June 13, 2019

Q&A with Massimo Crema of Melogranoblu

For over two decades, Italy’s Melogranoblu have been crafting works of art, transforming the lighting world and carrying fine Italian craftsmanship and glassblowing into the 21st century. From their now iconic Soap pendant to the subtly Art Deco Gotham collection, each Melogranoblu piece serves as a sculptural form, both on and off. Fine art fixtures are one thing, but more recently their larger-than-life multi-light glass installations have become a sort of specialty. We caught up with Massimo Crema, co-founder of Melogranoblu, at Salone del Mobile to chat glass, craft and the quest for iconic status.

You founded Melogranoblu in 1997 with Ermanno Rocchi - what was the spark that lead to this?

I started doing lighting in theatre, for the Opera. From there, I headed to Murano with Ermanno, and began working in the local laboratories. We immediately fell in love with the craftsmanship, Murano glass is an incredible material. We decided we wanted to study this together, to build something, so we designed our first object and headed to our first fair in Verona.

What is the first piece Melogranoblu created?

A glass candle holder, small enough for a tealight, resembling something of a lantern. We started with a collection of objects; the first lamp we created wasn’t until 2000. During that period, we experimented with different forms of glassblowing, moving from Murano glass to borosilicate glass; it captures the light in a truly unique way. Over time, we developed a treatment for the glass where we sand the exterior. This treatment embellishes the glass, creating hundreds of unique points that each reflect light, giving it an overall softer, brighter glow.

Melogranoblu abides by the “Made in Italy” standard - what sets Italian craftsmanship apart from other parts of the world? What are some of the challenges to making everything in Italy?

As an Italian, I wanted to work closely with local artisans. With Italian artists, there’s always a story, a tradition and passion that’s appealing to me. It’s difficult, because the cost is really different respective to other countries, but it’s important to not lose our story, our history. If Melogranoblu doesn’t give work to local artisans, we slowly lose that tradition with time.

How do you balance making something that’s beautiful and sculptural while also making it functional?

We think of the design first and foremost. We want it to be a beautiful object, an interesting object that looks nice in the home. Sure, I make lights, but they’re also works of art. Soap - for example - we added a metalization layer to assist with the function, to help with the reflective quality. This was done to help with the functionality, but it’s truly magical when you turn it on and off. The bubbles sort of appear and disappear. We wanted the piece to look as stunning off as it does on.

You’re known for creating larger-than-life systems, custom made for several incredible projects. What is your favorite custom project you’ve worked on?

One is the Westin Hotel in Bombay. That was the first big installation with the Hydra system. The new Hilton in St. Petersberg is another favorite. Oh and a Pekingese restaurant in Taiwan - they decided to fill the entire ceiling of their restaurant with our light system, including a VIP area with a gold leaf ceiling. That was one of the best.

Tell us about your new pieces, showing here at Euroluce.

Our big launch here is the Diapason collection, designed by Giorgio Soressi. This is the first time that we tried to create a chandelier. Curves of glass and vintage shapes in precious metals create subtle balance. It’s a play with symmetry and asymmetry that is unlike anything we’ve ever done before.

What’s on the horizon for Melogranoblu? Where do you see the company headed?

Of course, every company wants to operate smoothly and continue to grow. We work hard to maintain that status quo, but we want our pieces to become classics. The Soap, for example, has won several awards, and is one of those truly unique pieces that you begin to recognize over time. For us to become timeless - iconic - that is our goal.

Shop Melogranoblu

Soap Sphere Pendant
by Melogranoblu
Opium Pendant
by Melogranoblu
Rapa Nui Small Table Lamp
by Melogranoblu
Serendipity Pendant
by Melogranoblu
Perfume Sphere Pendant
by Melogranoblu
Soap Dome Table Lamp
by Melogranoblu
Gotham Multi Light Pendant
by Melogranoblu
$9,280 - $12,800