Vitrum is the latin word for both glass and the woad plant, yielding indigo.

 

Colour is an immaterial phenomenon. It is generated by our senses through seemingly paradoxical mechanisms of reflection and absorption of light. When we modify material to appear colourful this volatility becomes very tangible.

The journey into colour as a matter of design started with the woollen wall-coverings in the blue room of Schloss Hollenegg that have almost completely turned into a moss-green. Solely some areas masked from daylight bear witness of the colour once intended. The analysis of the transformation process of what once was blue, led to the understanding that the immaterial colour as we perceive it often has a very material origin; except that is for the screens we use today. Physical colour is made from minerals, retrieved from plants, extracted through chemical reactions between organic and inorganic materials or microbial processes. Throughout the ages we have shown a deep desire, done relentless efforts, manifested feverish economic interest in developing colour recipes with ever brighter hues and versatile applications for the design of a more colourful environment.

From the Egyptians to the “barbaric” Celts, blue has a history of its own. But if it weren’t for the acceptance of blue by Christian religion, neither the cobalt blue stained glass windows of the Basilica of Saint Denis nor the altarpiece of Van Eyck would exist as we know them today. As an installation, Vitrum is designed to materialise the colour and significance of some of the most important moments in the history of blue. Similar to a painter’s canvas, glass sheets are suspended to depict each portrait. Vitrum is realised in partnership with WonderGlass using carefully crafted cast glass; vitrifying the colour, to become alive only when exposed to light.

 

Vitrum was commissioned by the Design Museum Ghent for the exhibition Kleureyck, Van Eyck's Colours in Design, 2020

 

With the collaboration of

WonderGlass

Schloss Hollenegg for Design

Institute of Natural Sciences and Technologies in the Arts, Vienna

Historische Farbstoffsamlung, TU Dresden

Videography by Heleen Declercq

View of the installation during Kleureyck, Van Eyck's Colours in Design, 2020

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