milan design week 2017 exhibition

Talisman: Contemporary Symbolic objects


The Talisman exhibition is by invitation only. Atelier NL recently took part in InResidence Venice and was invited to present a special talisman for the 2017 Milan Design Week group exhibition. According to the InResidence invitation, talismans are "small in size, often kept in a pocket, the Talisman-object has accumulated and layered human beliefs and legends over the centuries, conveying them into the contemporary age; its hybrid and multidisciplinary iconography has been seamlessly passed on from one community to the next, symbolically combining knowledges and observations belonging to different spheres, in a signifying web composed, among other things, of astronomy, geometry, literature, alchemy."

Name: Zandglas Coin

Material: Natural sand glass

Technique: Raw sand melted in a glass kiln, formed into a droplet, and stamp-impressed by hand

The ZandGlas Coin is a talisman of alchemical transformation. It is the mint proof a dream manifested into physical form. Starting in 2009, Atelier NL took a sand journey, collecting sands from the dunes, beaches, deserts, mountains, and sandpits along old Roman glass trading routes. In ancient times, glass was made from natural sands, yet in modern times the art has been practically lost. Atelier NL began by using a ceramic kiln to melt sands in small earthen vessels. Eventually, they repurposed an industrial glass kiln to make workable quantities of glass. After thousands of tests to melt the sands into viable glass, Atelier NL refined their recipe and created their first glass objects from Zandmotor, a beach near Scheveningen, Holland. Since ancient times, glass blowers have marked their work with a custom stamp, carefully applying the right amount of pressure at the right moment to the molten glass. This first droplet of sand glass tested the pressure of Atelier NL’s mark and the nature of their new glass, creating a talisman that became an amulet. Hold it in your hand; you can feel that alchemy as an art is still alive for those who seek the transformative secrets of raw materials from the earth.