Any idea how you’d make a recipe for glass? Sculptor Omer Arbel, who, when not busy with his personal projects, is the brains behind design-forward lighting manufacturer Bocci, brought in chemists to reformulate the substance and master glassblowers to shape it. Then he could get to the showstopping part: quickly pouring a molten copper alloy into the newly formed vessel, causing the metal to wash around in its still-hot container. When both harden, the glass cracks, and its altered chemical makeup causes it to fall off the alloy, leaving behind a frozen metal wave, caught mid-spatter within a bottle that no longer exists. “I wanted these pieces to, as much as possible, be a pure reflection of a chemical reaction,” Arbel says. “Materials are the artist here.”
And react it does. Because one side of the copper is exposed to the glass in the process and the other to open air, half of the final product oxidizes, while the other does not. The former is smooth and iridescent, while the latter becomes black and coarse, almost like charcoal.
The designer has long used substances in unexpected ways: concrete that resembles a slice of a tree stump, aluminum shaped into the coral-like arms of a chandelier and fabric pleats that replace the seat cushion of a chair. This latest series of copper-alloy vessels, dubbed 113 because, well, it’s Arbel’s 113th idea, will be displayed at Carwan Gallery in Athens, Greece, through November 7.
The pieces will be displayed on a large table in the middle of the gallery, so people can walk around and observe them from all sides. “They’re arranged in a way that I can only describe as being as intuitive as a constellation is,” says Arbel. “It’s not a grid, it doesn’t have any other order other than my own idea of which pieces look better than others.”
Check out more of Omer Arbel’s work below: