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GLASS DESIGNER PATRIK ILLO'S WORKS COMBINE CENTURIES-OLD TRADITIONS WITH MODERN TRENDS

Simple in beauty and heavy in function

TALL wineglasses swing on rounded bottoms. The curve of the glass is shaped so the wine poured into it moves only slightly but does not spill over. The edge of the base, as well as the glass's top rim are gently ground, but only to such an extent that the liquid in the glass remains the main focus.
These objets d'art are produced by Slovakia's largest glassmaker, Rona Crystal, in the northwestern town of Lednické Rovne, and were designed by one of the firm's own designers, Patrik Illo.
Illo, 28, started learning the craft of glass design and production at Rona Crystal while still in high school, and he has been a full-time designer for four years.


IN HIS work, Illo experiments with shape, colour and kinetics.
photo: Táňa Hojčová

TALL wineglasses swing on rounded bottoms. The curve of the glass is shaped so the wine poured into it moves only slightly but does not spill over. The edge of the base, as well as the glass's top rim are gently ground, but only to such an extent that the liquid in the glass remains the main focus.

These objets d'art are produced by Slovakia's largest glassmaker, Rona Crystal, in the northwestern town of Lednické Rovne, and were designed by one of the firm's own designers, Patrik Illo.

Illo, 28, started learning the craft of glass design and production at Rona Crystal while still in high school, and he has been a full-time designer for four years.

His functional designs, based on experiments with shape and colour, are used in a significant share of Rona Crystal's handcrafted and factory-made products, 96 per cent of which are exported around the globe.

"Illo is one of the most talented [Slovak] glassmakers," says Viera Kleinová, the curator of an exhibition that is currently displaying Illo's works in the country's capital.

The artist, alongside his colleagues from Rona Crystal, student glassmaker Marika Berkyová and photographer Táňa Hojčová, is currently exhibiting his works - mainly vases - at the ÚĽUV Design Studio in Bratislava.

Entitled Style is Still Alive, the exhibition clearly shows the current trends that shape modern glass design, serving functional as well as aesthetic purposes. As the curator put it, "They should define the space they are in, however, their beauty should not overpower their functionality."

Having the opportunity to work right at the source, the Lednické Rovne glassmaker that was founded in 1892 by Josef Schreiber und Neffen, Illo is able to experiment with traditional techniques, which he applies to his modern designs. In his work he revives the grid technique, which is slowly fading in the world of Slovak glass design, and draws inspiration from the firm's old designs.


THE ARTIST in his studio.
photo: Táňa Hojčová

"He tries to rediscover glass techniques, which face extinction because they are less and less used in modern glass design and because the glassmakers who used them are no longer living," says Kleinová.

Illo was drawn to glass at the age of 14, and applied to the High School of Glass in Lednické Rovne. During his studies of glass art at Bratislava Fine Art University, he also attended glass courses in Great Britain, Italy and France. He has won several awards for his work, which has been exhibited in many countries across Europe.

"The philosophy of my work, simply, is to know the technology. Then I can propose products that work with a specific glass technology for a specific glassmaker," Illo says.

"The objects I present at this exhibition are my aesthetic-technological experiments. Technically, they're very difficult and that is why I work with the best glassmakers. They [the works themselves] combine old glass techniques with contemporary aesthetic-decorative strategies."

And it is this detail that plays the most important role in Illo's glass designs, as it does in his other art works; his paintings, drawings and installations.

What: Style is Still Alive - glass exhibition.
Where: ÚĽUV Design Studio, Dobrovičova 13, Bratislava.
When: Open Mon-Fri 10:00-18:00 until October 25.
Admission: free.
Tel: 02/5296-4153.
Patrik Illo's works are permanently exhibited at Slovenské sklárske museum (Slovak Glass Museum) on Schreiberova 365, Lednické Rovne (north-west of Púchov).

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