THE GLASS HOUSE
MARCANTONIO BRANDOLINI IS ON AN ARTFUL MISSION: TO SHATTER CLICHED NOTIONS OF HIS FAMILY’S NATIVE VENICE WHILE PRESERVING ITS SINGULAR TRADITIONS.
Marcantonio Brandolini is on a mission to shatter clichéd notions of his native Venice while preserving the legacy of his late mother’s glassware business.
G reat hosts and hostesses have long shared a colorful, albeit transparent, secret: their glassware. In lime green with swirls of gold, or emblazoned with pineapples and palm trees, with delicate lilac filigree, or with crimson millefiori in perfectly proportioned shapes, tumblers and goblets by Laguna B are instantly recognizable in a sea of imitation Murano. Another reason for the line’s popularity was its famous founder, Marie Brandolini, a raven-haired descendant of the Rothschilds who called Venice’s Palazzo Brandolini home. When Marie died suddenly of cancer, in 2013, the future of her business seemed uncertain. Until, that is, her dashing son Marcantonio took the helm two years later.
For Brandolini, now 25, keeping Laguna B alive is as much a way to pay tribute to his beloved mother as it is about embracing Italian craftsmanship and saving the world’s most renowned glassmaking district from extinction. “Many workshops here in Murano are disappearing, shutting down because there isn’t enough work or because the new generations don’t want to continue the family business,” he says.
Since moving back to his childhood home in the palazzo he has become something of a glass savant. He set up a creative studio in the palazzo’s rooftop bedroom, which was a frequent haunt of his family’s decorator, Renzo Mongiardino (who decorated the home of Brandolini’s grandparents, Brando and Cristiana Brandolini d’Adda).
Brandolini also established the brand’s most significant and welcome push into the 21st century so far: a new shoppable website. And he is taking Laguna B in a personal direction, too, continuing all the beloved collections his mother created (Goto millefiori and the striped Berlingot being the most famous) and introducing elaborate one-off glass pieces.
“Venice cannot be known only as a postcard city for tourists or for contemporary art, for the Biennale,” Brandolini says. “This is about history and tradition.”
clear thinking twenty-five-yearold Marcantonio Brandolini is continuing his mother Marie’s glassmaking legacy. t&c
ancestral tables the gardens of the Palazzo brandolini, on Venice’s Grand canal. below: samples of laguna b glassware in the rooftop atelier.
design lineage The windows in the palazzo’s airy living room face the grand Canal. Below: a vintage photograph.