artist, nina nørgaard’s career in the glass art world took off with a collaboration with noma in 2012. then came inquiries from restaurants like acme in new york, stores like corso como in milan, garde in beverly hills, the luxury site matchesfashion.com and many others. the colorful artist is known for her craftmanship, thoroughness, and eye for detail.
holmegaard, denmark. a new focal point for glassware art in scandinavian will soon see the light.
this is also where we meet up with artist nina nørgaard, 34, to learn more about why she fell in love with glassware art, what defines her creative style, her view on sustainability and of course, how she ended up creating 2.000 handmade glass for one of the elite restaurants in the world, noma.
but first things first what is so special about glassware that takes her breath away?
“glass can spread light and puts color in the world. it’s something we all come across every day. it’s inevitable. you see the raw materials and feel the nuances. it’s also channeling and difficult craft to master. it’s not easy to do; some say it takes ten years of training to master. it’s hot, it’s dirty, you get burned, you get cut, it’s just hard work. but yet, it’s magical!”
from very early times glass has been used for various kinds of vessels. wherever the industry has been developed, glass has been produced in a great variety of forms and kinds of decoration, much of it of great beauty.
the attraction of glass lies deep in the human - and already at a very early age, nina knew that this was something she wanted to do:
“my aunt is a glassblower, and i was five years old when i first saw her work. it was with pernille bülow on bornholm, and i was caught right away. i clearly remember finding glass in its liquid form kind of magical. i still do! it’s like a dreamy, flowing fantasy,” she says.
from that moment on, she began her journey. first, she went to paris during a summer break in high school. and already years before getting educated from the highly acclaimed kosta school of glass in sweden, she had internships in both paris and venice.
when she got back to copenhagen in 2011, she had to start all over again. it was in the midst of the global economic crisis, and it had a grip on the glass industry as well. factories closed and no one brought in any assistants, nina remembers.
the only option was to do it on her own. giving up on her dream was simply not a choice. she then opened a small glass gallery at østerbro in copenhagen from where she sold the work of friends and other artists because it was too expensive to make her own.
an acquaintance of hers than suggested that she should try to sell her designs and ideas to restaurants. confident and ambitious as she is, she went for the best - why not?
in 2012, nina was allowed to show her designs to rené redzepi chef and co-owner, who immediately liked it, but noma did not lack any glass at the time. it didn’t stop her though. she spent a whole day sitting in the restaurant drawing everything she believed the place was missing; a water bottle, vases, an oil lamp - you name it.
she was unavoidable. first, they bought the tea and coffee glasses – but the wine glasses were still way out of question. a wine glass should be as thin as paper, noma firmly believed. an answer she would not accept. so of course, she tested them: “try this and taste the wine now.” before long, none of the staff would drink wine from glasses others than hers. shortly after nina handmade 2.000 wineglasses to noma - a masterpiece.
now she got international attention and ever since she has been pushing the limits of what is persuaded to be even possible regarding glassware art.
“i’m probably un-nostalgic. as soon as a project is complete, i want something new. i am driven to the adventure of it. if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way,” she says and continues:
“glass is a natural material, fragile but still very strong. and with elegance and softness to it. i like to keep some of the magic that glass has in its raw and liquid form - and refine it a bit. using your imagination can take you far.”
we live in a time of great focus on sustainability. and nina is very conscious of minimizing wastage in her work. she works from a premise aiming for 0% waste.
it pleases her that consumers have become more conscious - for as she says; it’s healthier for the climate and better for both the art and us humans:
“before, glass was something you inherited, and then put in the cabinets. the relation to glass has changed for the better. now it’s getting used and put on display. it has become modern again because things now have to last, the principle of sustainability. before the crisis, there was a tendency to buy a lot; there was this use-and-throw-away-culture, but we have gone from that to now wanting something with more quality,” she says.
that’s maybe one of the reasons for nina being an essential part of holmegaard’s new project. holmegaard works uses preserved glassworks and has the largest glass collection in scandinavian on display. the main purpose is to show the industry’s adventures and to reintroduce the craftsmanship and quality of danish culture, as well as inspire future generations of glassware artists.
alongside several exciting projects in the pipeline, there’s no sign of slowing down for nina. glass is her craft, and if she really wants to do something, she’ll find a way to achieve it.