From the very beginning, Laguna~B stood out from the Murano glass scene for its bold, unorthodox approach to preserving an old-world craft. Sara Pierdonà meets CEO and art director, Marcantonio Brandolini d'Adda, to discover the story of the family-run brand, and what the future holds.



Laguna~B's new store in Dorsoduro, conceived with architect David Leclerc as a white, minimalist shell where colorful glassware can really shine. © Enrico Fiorese


From the very beginning, Laguna~B stood out from the rest of the Murano glass scene. The studio, founded 30 years ago by Marie Brandolini and run since 2017 by her son, Marcantonio, had an unconventional, unorthodox approach to the old-world craft, eschewing traditional rules. The result was an extravagant, almost pop-art design, firmly anchored in the quality standards of the old masters.

"The irony is that neither my mother nor I were particularly interested in glass. It was always a matter of finding a way to express oneself...and I suspect that in these cases one material is as good as another," says CEO and art director, Marcantonio Brandolini d'Adda, who has come to master the craft of glassmaking so expertly that he’s exhibited his creations in galleries across London, Milan, and New York.


Laguna~B founder, Marie Brandolini, at the foundary © Laguna~B 


There is a beautiful, tender family portrait of Marie when her children were young. Eldest son Guido jumps on the sofa, while little Marcantonio laughs looking at the camera, both watched by their adoring parents. They are in their Venetian palace; damask fabric is just visible and, enveloping them like an alcove, a fresco evoking a chapel in the style of Tiepolo, conceived by Mongiardino, created by Lila de Nobili.

Marie is dressed to match the setting, in a glamorous black and gold gown, but the Laguna~B founder looks just as striking wearing her work apron in another photograph on the brand’s website. In this one, her shirt sleeves are rolled up and she is focused, handling the tools with which molten glass is shaped inside the furnace.

"You have to imagine a woman who grew up in Paris, with flaming red hair, arriving in the extremely conservative and male-dominated environment of Murano, and as if that were not enough, she has ideas...ideas that seem to everyone unexpected, provocative," he says. The first were gotos - brightly colored glasses that were a reinterpretation of those that local artisans made for their own use, employing scraps from other productions before carelessly mixing together the various colors in random combinations. "Then everyone copied them from us," he notes – but without acrimony, because there are precise distinguishing marks to recognize and safeguard the originals, of which only connoisseurs and collectors are aware.

A couple of years ago, the Brandolini d'Adda family had an auction at Sotheby's featuring many of Marie's original one-of-a-kind pieces. The sale was a huge success, and on that occasion Marcantonio realized the allure of limited collections, which have now become "one of the hallmarks of the brand," he reveals.

This year Laguna~B will present six, but Marcantonio would like to make far more in the future, “because this is the kind of production that stimulates creativity and innovation the most”. Past numbered editions include, for example, the 'Sunset' glass (with the intense degrade of a California sun) and 'Haru' (meaning 'spring' in Japanese, in honor of the craquelé typical of raku pottery), decorated with a myriad of floral murrines.

My favorite among the upcoming collections is an homage to the glass of all Italian families: the classic, humble and ironic Nutella glass, decorated to delight children with images of Disney, Peanuts or Wacky Races. "To make our version we not only imitated the shape of the original Nutella glass, which is squat and pot-bellied, but also involved a writer from Milan whose graffiti were ideal for playing on the 'illustrated glass' effect,” says Marcantonio.

Following in the footsteps of the great enlightened industrialists of the past century, such as Olivetti, Brion or Benetton (all from Veneto), Marcantonio thinks that a company should not limit itself to billing but strive to be "a culture-bearing entity."

This explains his decision to keep creativity in central Venice, rather than on the islands – where he believes production would become more mechanical – and eschew most brands' primary communication channel, Instagram, for a personal, documented newsletter that explores disparate topics: contemporary art, glimpses of Venetian life, and digressions on sources of (often surprising) inspiration.

Also striking and avant-garde is Laguna~B's new store in Dorsoduro, conceived with architect David Leclerc as a white, minimalist shell where colorful glassware can really shine. Like jewels in a safe, many of the brand’s models are not on display, but are stored in hidden drawers, ready to be revealed in an explosion of colors.

Elsewhere, Enzo Mari's essential chairs and a very special steel fountain, similar to Marcel Duchamp's bottlerack, are displayed for passersby to marvel at; it was made by Carlo Scarpa's elderly blacksmith, the craftsman who worked on the wonderful Olivetti store in Piazza San Marco. And then there are the books: niche publications on art, the environment, feminism, which, as in a public library, are lent out to anyone who is curious about them. "I liked the idea of the store also having a second use, and a more diverse catchment area," says Marcantonio.


Interior of Laguna~B's office in Venezia © Enrico Fiorese


A few steps from the store: Laguna~B HQ, an atmospheric space where ideas are born. Shelves upon shelves are filled with glasses (including prototypes of the collections developed with Cabana), while sketches are taped to the walls, and desks are engraved with Street Art-style writings and drawings. The container of this hotbed of ideas is an imposing palace protected by high walls from which ivy shoots float and beyond which tree tops sway gently (from one of Venice’s wonderful secret gardens).

Amidst the greenery, there’s another unexpected sight: one of Marcantonio's works of art, placed in a discreet corner where it reverberates bewitching reflections. It was a friend, gallery owner Alma Zevi, who encouraged Marcantonio to make art, seeing his creativity. “I like manual labor and anything that is raw, at the formless stage,” says Marcantonio. “My works are based on what is called cotisso in technical language. It's the primordial stage of glass...they look like ultra-pigmented nuggets or pieces of rock. It is this kind of beauty, simple, unartificial, yet stunning, that I seek."

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