As a glassblower, Matteo Gonet works in a trade that appears to be dying out in the age of industrial mass production. A brief look at his client list highlights just how sought-after his skills seem to be – it is peppered with the names of famous designers, artists and companies. For instance, despite his young age Gonet has already collaborated with artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, designer Mathieu Lehanneur and architects Buchner Bründler and Miller & Maranta. Gonet’s craftsmanship always comes into play when what is called for is more than mere off-the-shelf products. And this was the case with a joint project developed by faucet manufacturer Axor and students at the École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne (ECAL). Adeline Seidel spoke to Gonet about the students’ unusual faucets and his enthusiasm for the material of glass.
Adeline Seidel: Apparently you decided to become a glassblower when you were just 15 years old. How did that come about?
Matteo Gonet: I did. It was by chance that I chose the profession – and my family hoped that it was only a brief phase I was going through. (laughs) It was quite simply the case that the workshops really impressed me. Glass, that fragile material, the fire and that macho attitude. And then, when I discovered that I would have to go abroad for the training – there just weren’t any apprenticeships to be had in the trade in Switzerland – the prospect suddenly appealed to me all the more. After all, I wanted to travel, which I then did, for four or five years.
So glass as a material played no part in your choice of profession?
Gonet: In fact, I didn’t find out about it properly, so to speak, until later. To begin with, it was the actual work, the mechanical skill that impressed me more than the material itself.
And what’s the situation today?
Gonet: It’s a craft that it is very difficult to learn. For the first few years you need to practice a great deal. It’s only later that I started asking questions: What exactly is glass? What are the limits to its malleability? Etc. etc. That kind of question still preoccupies and fascinates me. There are many different types of glass. It can be hard, opaque, transparent, colored. It can be very fragile but then again very solid. We like to experiment both with different uses and with the different properties of the material. And I do find that so very fascinating.