Q&A WITH CATHERINE URBAN OF CASARIALTO

Luxury Glasswork and Table Pieces. Designed in Italy, Handmade in Venice.

Born in France but raised in Argentina, Catherine’s early life was spent studying Political Science at University and then a Masters degree in Fashion. This was then followed by a period of 12 years where Catherine worked with some leading fashion brands including Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Since Catherine was young, she has always shown an interest in design and how products are made. She was captivated by the beauty of materials such as glass and she began to study shapes, forms and products that could be manufactured from this versatile material. In 2003 Catherine decided to pursue her love of making products, beginning with handmade cashmere clothes for babies. This project continued for of eight years. It was when Catherine moved to Treviso near Venice, her passion for creating turned to the use of glass and it was in 2008 that Casarialto was launched. Since then, Catherine has continued to expand her knowledge on the various products that can be made from glass, exploring the craft of glassblowing and glass design to produce intricate tableware and luxury home accessories, all using glass. 

The Casarialto brand is based on the development of home accessories that convey quality, uniqueness and purpose, combining tradition and innovation along with the Italian approach to creative projects. Casarialto has continued to go from strength to strength. Catherine uses glass because it is an eco-friendly product and it can be recycled too. While it is a complex material it has incredible potential to be moulded and shaped into many different forms.

All of Catherine’s work starts with a detailed sketch where she can articulate her creative product ideas. Once the sketch is finished, Catherine then starts collaborating with an artisan to make sure that it is viable for the product on paper can be brought to life in glass. Each item always serves a practical purpose combining utility with beauty and Catherine draws on expertise from a variety of sources including artisans who specialise in transparent glass, coloured glass, glass painting, engraving and more. 

What is your background?

My nationality is French and I lived with my family in Argentina for 15 years when I was child. I studied Political Science at university, then a Masters in Fashion in Paris. I worked for 12 years for Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

How did you start Casarialto?

I started in 2003 with a great desire to make products. The first project began with the birth of my child Asia. It was a line of cashmere handmade clothes for babies. This project went on for eight years. Love and curiosity for different materials lead me to launch a line of table linens. Moving to Treviso, near Venice, this passion moved naturally through to glass.

Why is glass your preferred material when designing your products?

Glass is a simple and complex material at the same time. It is eco-friendly. It can be recycled, for its nature is composed of minerals and it is natural. It is complex and has big potential as well as its limits. It is a material with many contradictions. It is a plastic material when hot, you can work with it as you would with clay. But it becomes cold and solid very quickly, so you have only a short time to work with it. You can't do many things with it. Glass working needs great expertise.

Where do you get your inspiration for glassware designs?

There is no calendar, no program, only a strong need to say something. And when this comes a new line is born. Things arise naturally. Ideas are pretty much more than products that come to life. The items always have a purpose of beauty and utility. Works start from a sketch. Afterwards I study the design with an artisan to see if it can be made and how. We work with many different expertises: artisans who make the transparent glass parts, another for the coloured subjects, another who paints the glass, another who engraves it...

What is the most unusual commission you have received?

De Vecchi asked us to re-make their Multi 8 candle holder in glass. Multi 8 was originally made in metal. It was a big challenge for us, because we produced a big quantity of glass candleholders, handcrafted, made one by one, following a strict range of sizes. It was really complicated but very satisfying.

What do you find the most exciting part of your work?

Definitely when the idea becomes a prototype. When artisans make the first sample following my sketch and under my supervision.

The Design Buzz invites you to view all of Casarialto’s glassware available for sale here.