Creative Director Helle Mardahl on the Magic of Glass + Light

Helle Mardahl makes glass pieces – tableware, lighting, and art objects – that look sweet enough to eat, a fact referenced by food-centric product names like Bonbonniere and color names like Milky Rose, Blueberry Ice Cream, and Olive Punch. A Helle Mardahl cake stand is one part functional tableware, another part light-filled sculpture, Alice in Wonderland meets Versailles. A Bonbonniere vessel looks like a child’s candy: light and bright and decidedly organic. It’s no mistake that her new exhibition, The Sensory Society, takes inspiration from Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a pastel-colored confection in its own right. It’s easy to imagine Saoirse Ronan’s baker stepping into the space, which is filled with pieces from Mardahl’s Candy Collection: hand-blown pendant lamps in robin’s egg blue and Pepto pink, plus rows of bulbous baubles that recall exquisite pastries.

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In this week’s Milkshake, Mardahl joins us from Copenhagen to talk us through her collection, which was born when she admired a certain glass lamp but had some notes: a different, more organic shape, brighter colors: “I thought, ‘Oh, it’s such a shame – what if it was a pink color, a purple color, a green color that I liked?’” she says. “Then the idea would just be absolutely amazing. So I made a different lamp, but with an organic shape, and that was the beginning of it. Suddenly, it became a bonbon, a candy world, right here, right now, in front of me.”

tiered display of two-toned bulbous glass objects

interior room featuring multiple displays of colorful glass objects and lighting

Now, she says, her aim is to engage all the senses with her pieces: “I see glass as full of senses: You have the taste, [which here] means that all colors are named after something you can eat. We have Milky Rose, we have Lavender, we’ve got Caramel, we’ve got a Blueberry Ice Cream. You can suck it, you can lick it, you can hold it. It’s cold, it’s organically shaped. It’s weird – it’s all that. Basically I think the more you can get of that, the more fun you can have, there’s so many layers to it. I’ve always thought like that: The more, the merrier.” For (even) more, tune in!

interior room featuring multiple displays of colorful glass objects and lighting

interior room featuring multiple displays of colorful glass objects and lighting

display of quirky and colorful glass goblets hanging upside down

tiered display of two-toned colorful glass objects

tiered display of two-toned colorful glass objects

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.

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