Theory & Reseach – Alison Berger, Designer
Written by Kamei Chan, Senior Designer
Born in Texas, Alison’s fascination with light came as a child, where she created makeshift lanterns by catching fireflies in mason jars. Whilst cycling when she was 15, she found a glass-blowing workshop in Dallas and she joined the class. Whilst being taught glass-blowing, she continued in school and apprenticed for renowned artist Dale Chihuly. After studying architecture in the early nineties at Columbia University, she went on to work for Frank O. Ghery. Combining her passion of architecture, which is precise and balanced, her knowledge of glass-blowing and her obsession with light – she founded Alison Berger Glassworks in 1994.
Rather than using industrial processes to make perfectly uniform pieces. Alison doesn’t use moulds. Taking damp newspaper to hold hot liquid glass, she creates shapes using fruitwood blocks and steel tools. The process is intense and time-consuming and can take months to create a shape that she is satisfied with; but it’s the journey, the mistakes and the accidents that can lead to something unexpected. Experimenting and pushing boundaries using old world techniques to try and tame glass, which is unpredictable and will naturally behave as it wants. Afterwards, the glass is cut and polished to the same precision as a diamond and finished with contrasting bronze hardware, individually sized to each delicate piece.
The focus of Alison’s lighting remains to explore the qualities of light and shadows, how they behave at different times of day, and that being held in a vessel to capture that essence. Her creations are an analysis of atmospheric illumination, where the created source can be used as a standalone glowing sculpture and not just as a task light. This epitomises the balance of form versus function.