By Laura Goldstein
As graceful as a multi-tiered necklace, orbs of suspended light compose a chandelier’s planetary system of handblown Czech glass. And in a single lighting pendant, an abstract drop of dew is captured in multiple layers when the glass is molten then attached to a brass armature. It’s a jewel-like sculptural pendant the likes of which Mother Nature would surely approve.
“We emphasize the organic nature of glass and I try to honour the material in all my designs from lighting to accessories,” explains Karen Gilbert, co-founder of SkLO Studio from her California base near San Francisco.
A curated selection of SkLO Studio lighting and sculptural glass accessories are showcased at the SwitzerCultCreative showroom, 1725 West 3rd Avenue.
Although not originally a family business, “we have sort of turned it into one,” laughs Gilbert who is SkLO’s design director. Founded in 2009 with her husband, architect Paul Pavlak and brothers, Pavel and Petr Hanousek (the latter both based in the Czech Republic and oversee the glass-blowing team,) they strive to bring the great history, tradition and quality of hand-blown Czech glass into 21st Century interior design and décor trends. In fact, they take their moniker ‘sklo’ from the Czech word meaning glass.
“We really want to emphasize the craft of glass-blowing practiced by some of the best artisans in the world for SkLO and our aesthetic is one of subtlety and quiet beauty not overly designed pieces,” affirms Gilbert.
It’s not surprising to learn that Gilbert was originally trained in the crafts of metalsmithing and jewelry design with a penchant for intricate more delicate pieces. Combining those talents with drawing, painting and metal fabrication, she works with her husband who brings the larger architectural and sculptural structure of lighting pieces to fruition. The drape skirt 9 Chandelier consists of nine hand-blown pendants gathered together in a central brass skirt structure. The signature SkLO double-dipped, fire-polished mouths (where the glass leaves the blower’s pipe,) are each unique.
The drape skirt 28 Chandelier is a waterfall of 28 stunning hand-blown pendants supported by a series of four consecutively smaller brass rings. It makes a resounding statement suspended from the ceiling over a multiple-storey stairwell. Electrical cord is fabric-wrapped and available in a variety of hues.
Colourful float pendants do just that; hand-blown planets in slightly irregular one-of-a- kind translucent glass that by day, reflect the outdoors and by night, cast a subtle bewitching galactic glow.
Many of SkLO’s glass accessories trigger the imagination: wrap object is created from one sinuous length of handblown Czech glass and no two are exactly the same. Whether you see them as an elaborate sailor’s knot or a child’s twisted balloon object is up to the viewer. Join vessels are a kaleidoscope of colours and slightly distorted image: a fun-house of mirrors reflected in bottles. Two separate cylinders of glass in vibrant colours are fused together while hot. The top has an off-centre neck while the bottom cylinder is round with a polished edge.
“Women are becoming more and more interested in lighting design,” enthuses Gilbert. “I think I take it a step further because I also construct the prototypes that traditionally, have been a male domain,” she admits.
“We’ve been very busy working on our 2020 lighting debut at Light + Building in Frankfurt Germany one of the largest lighting fairs in the world and then Maison & Object in Paris,” says Gilbert. “In Europe they like to pair very modern lighting with furniture brands. Whereas in North America, clients are much more traditional in their tastes.
“It’s that difference in aesthetics that makes it a very interesting time for us!”