Glass blowing is a fascinating art. Ask Zuby Johal, who experienced a child-like excitement when she saw a lamp blower at work for the first time. “I got a formal start in glass design as a student of Industrial Design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. Little did I know that this class would open the door to a medium I would long to explore for the rest of my life! “
She reminiscences, “I watched in fascination like a small child as the lamp worker melted glass rods and then from a shapeless mass created beautiful forms. It was spellbinding. From then on, I knew glass was something I wanted to do.”
The seeds of Studio Avtar (named after her mother) were sown back then. Rajiv Subba, also an NID alumnus, constitutes the other pillar of the studio.
The duo set up the ideal team – from their highly qualified and motivated design staff to collaborations with designers and artists to produce unique glass collections.
It is interesting to note that contrary to popular practice, where one starts small and then goes big, they started doing large-scale glass installations and then went on to design smaller products. “I was always very fascinated with scale. I wanted to create large-scale installations and art pieces,” she shares.
“My first break was when I was approached by Adani Power, Mundra to design an installation depicting the nature of fire in context to energy flow. The satisfaction and elation I felt was so gratifying that I had become greedy to experience it over and over again. In India, large-scale glass installations are rare to be seen,” she explains.
The studio explored the potential of installations almost completely, and that has been a great boost. They now want to address the gap in the market when it comes to glass home decor products.
“While there are various retail as well as online stores selling glass products, there is a lack of combining authenticity of glass craft with innovative technologies and creative craftsmanship. I want our products to become a small taste of luxury that everybody desires to own,” explains Zuby.
The studio also produces mixed media products with diverse materials like bamboo, teak wood, metal, marble, granite fiberglass, silicone, cloth, copper, brass, shisham wood, ceramic etc.
Glass blowing has it’s share of challenges. Formal education is required to understand various techniques and temperatures required in handling glass. Practical knowledge is vital in creating pieces and communicating with craftsmen. The scientific glass industry of India has skilled artisans and craftsmen and bringing that segment into the world of decorative and functional objects has been something that the studio has tackled.
But, a lot of challenges have to do with with perception and psychology of the buyers. The belief that Indian glass is not as good in quality in comparison to murano or Bohemian glass is one that she has often encountered. The studio constantly attempts to break this notion as good quality glass can be produced in the country where craftsmanship and skill is of the highest quality.
“Glass, by its nature, is organic and unpredictable hence each piece has its own quality,” explains Zuby. Respecting this intrinsic quality of the material, the studio attempts to search the commonality in glass and nature.
Refusing to rest on the grand scale laurels, Studio Avtar is pushing the boundaries further. In the pipeline is a collection of glass furniture. “We have used massive blown glass pieces with diverse materials to create these unique pieces of art. Functionality and technology hVE been a pivot as we have explored things like sensors and solar panels,” reveals Zuby.
This may be the next step, but the long term vision is clear – their aim is to transform glass into breathtaking light and design experiences and share the intense beauty of glass art with the world. Having explored different scales and dimensions in glass making is not enough. Studio Avtar is destined for bigger things.
“In the coming years I would like to build up a studio where artists and people could come and learn this art form and explore the material. The space would be open to all, as I believe each one of us is a born artist. In my imagination it would be a crazy place with a lot of hustle bustle, laughter and creativity,” concludes Zuby.
Text By Dhanishta Shah
Currently the Studio is at Narayan Nagar,
Paldi in Ahmedabad
as well as White Field in Bengaluru.
Contact no: +91 9902750055, +91 8042002461, +91 7567159322