The lighting designer comes out with a monograph cataloging her work and inspirations.
BY RACHEL SMALL
Few people see glass like American designer Alison Berger does. It’s simply too easy to look past. But she prefers to gaze directly at it, studying how it bends light or casts shadows. Out this fall from Rizzoli, Alison Berger: Glass and Light is a monograph documenting the most impressive lighting fixtures, furniture, and other objects incorporating the material that have come out of her Los Angeles studio since she established it in 1995. In its pages, glass takes hundreds of forms— including its most rudimentary, as a glowing bubble fresh out of the kiln. “Glass in its molten state is so beautiful,” she says. “There’s nothing like the honey color of the glass moving.” The book also gives context to each completed project by way of its inspiration. Choosing one is the essential first step in Berger’s process, for the references she hones in on—setting no parameters for herself except “historical” and narrowing it down to something as specific as a 17th-century Chinese abacus—become the aesthetic touchstones that inform yet-to-be realized pieces. “Whether it be scientific or cultural, anthropologic or natural, they all have that baseline,” says Berger. The abacus resulted in an interior screen comprising crystal beads suspended within a metal framework. In 1997, an installation for Comme des Garçons’s Tokyo flagship took cues from Alberto Giacometti’s 1932 sculpture “The Palace at 4 a.m.” Two years later, a tabletop line commissioned by Hermès featured items shaped to be extra user-friendly, a riff on the original Hermès slogan “only the horse knows how the saddle fits.” In another instance, antique glass photographic plates (she collects them as a hobby) became the outer shell of a chandelier that, when turned on, illuminates each snapshot, depicting scenes from bygone times. It’s enough to warrant a second glance.
(Photos: Courtesy Alison Berger Glassworks)