Ghiró Studio (Michele and Domenico Ghiró) glass and crystal artists
Born in Bari, Italy, in 1957 Michele Ghiró developed an interest in glass from a very young age. He moved to Milan in 1957, where he had a succession of jobs working in glass, developing his artistic abilities while experimenting with the medium’s material properties and expressive possibilities. In 1996 Michele started working for internationally renowned glass designer Giorgio Berlini, eventually taking over the company upon Berlini’s retiring. Michele continued the company’s traditions, looking for new processes and improving the existing ones. In 2004 Michele founded his own workshop, which he conceived as a “Glass Academy,” with the mission of preserving the historical traditions of the craft, manufacturing curved glassworks according to ancient techniques, blending manual crafting and design. Here, together with other artisans, including his son Domenico, he produced a number of masterworks, including large monumental pieces and international commissions, establishing the reputation of the Milanese workshop and garnering numerous exhibitions.
Michele Ghiró’s workshop became reputed for elegant design and precision detailing, implementing a wide range of techniques, such as bending, molding, grinding, engraving and silvering, and producing equally diverse works, including ribbed vessels, jacketed glass, transparent glass, aquariums, veiled pots, fountains, handles, rings, necklaces and medallions. Drawing inspiration from the animal and plant kingdom, with a traceable lineage to Art Nouveau, Michele created symbolic forms and sensual abstractions - objects and furnishings as richly imaginative as they are technically refined. He incorporated opalescence, iridescence, and superb polychromes, together with splendidly hued friezes and trims, rendering glassworks of expression and impact on a par with any of the fine arts, but with an aesthetic that is unmistakably Ghiró.
Michele has collaborated with many esteemed artists, including Bruno Fael, Sabino Ventura, and Roberto Giulio Rida, as well as doing restortaive work with the most famous antique dealers in Europe. In 2008 he teamed up with painter Bruno Fael to create a painted palm tree sculpture with carved trunk and multifaceted leaves, leading to the commissioning of three palm trees for an “oasis” in the lobby of a large Egyptian hotel. A work of considerably more gravitas, Michele’s "Christ" is a crystal sculpture of Jesus on a reflective glass cross, every muscle on the body painstakingly chiseled to spectacular effect. His crystal “Wave” sculpture, meanwhile, evokes the movement of a breaking wave through the detailed chiseling of ten segments of various shapes. One of Michele’s most novel projects is his series of glass sculptures of famous soccer players, each carefully detailed portrait handmade at the Glass Academy. In 2011 Michele won the Arts Award for Design at the Circolo della Stampa Milan. In 2014 an exhibition of Ghiró glassworks entitled "Splendors and Transparency,” curated by Contemporary Art historian Carlo Franza, was presented at Artestudio 26 in Milan. By 2015, Michele’s son Domenico, by now also a skilled and accomplished glass artist, had come more to the fore of their creative enterprise.
Domenico Francesco Ghiró
Domenico was born in Milan in 1992, and as a child showed considerable creative and graphic abilities. During high school he attended his father Michele’s artisan workshop, benefitting from four decades of artistic glasswork production. He went on to commercial art school, and learned computer graphics and design. His passionate interest in Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo inspired his early experiments with glass, and subsequent encounters with books on Max Ingrand, Gio Ponti, and Fontana Arte, focused his inspiration on 20th-century design. Drawing from classics of the period, he reworked them in his own unique fashion while maintaining the integrity of their style. Working alongside his father, Domenico quickly exceled, and their first joint projects, notably their wall mirrors, won them immediate recognition. In 2014 Domenico’s first exhibition in Rome proved a success, and in Milan that same year he won the Award of Arts and Culture XXVI 2014 for best new artist. Appointing the prize was Carlo Franza, who also curated an exhibition at Palazzo Borghese in Florence entitled "Visible Transparency," focusing on the unity and continuity in the work of two generations: father Michele and son Domenico. 2014 also saw the Michele and Domenico relocate their workshop, calling it simply Ghiró Studio. While the Ghiró name was already known on the European market, Donzella 20th Century Gallery pioneered the American market, first showcasing works by Ghiró Studio in the 2015 Collective Design Fair in New York to distinct acclaim.
Like his father, Domenico is always looking for new forms and materials to utilize in his unique and meticulously produced handmade pieces. He is especially fascinated by thicker materials that have more intense color (blues figuring prominently), and by large blocks of unusual glass and crystal from different sources. Each project begins with a study of shape and scale, with nothing left to chance. Among Ghiró Studio’s noteworthy commissions is the sculpture "Life by the Sea" for the Palazzo della Regione Lombardia in Milan. Currently in the works is a design project for a new hotel in Dubai, as well as commissions from architects and important design galleries not only in Milan, but throughout Italy and internationally. The Studio’s unique furnishing designs include many mirrors, bowls, tables, and lamps. Among the newest of these are the “Grazia” lamps: smooth, sensual forms in hand-carved, polished glass and brass made exclusively for Donzella 20th Century, and first debuted by the Gallery at the 2016 Collective Design Fair.
While Domenico continues to experiment with new designs and new materials that he can incorporate into his vision, he cites his most important example as that of his father Michele, who loves his work and passed on his knowledge, artistry, curiosity and dedication to his son. “Our projects do not just happen,” Domenico explains, “but are the result of continuous research into the works of the past as documented in magazines and books of the time. The rest comes from over 30 years of working experience. All this is channeled into the present with the help of technology to develop an idea and present a first view of what we want to achieve. Of course it’s the actual making that best defines the ideas and concepts: the skilled hands, guided by the eyes, give rise to something magical and unrepeatable. Each step - cutting, grinding, coarse grinding, fine grinding and finally polishing – is strictly performed by hand to create something wonderful and refined.”