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Claude Glass

Jon Stam's project Claude Glass was unveiled last week at Design Miami/Basel as one of the projects in the 2013 W Hotels Designers of the Future Award.

By Katie Dominy / 20-06-2013

Jon Stam, Seung-Yong Song and Bethan Laura Wood were the three designers chosen by a W Hotels and Design Miami/ jury and this year each one was given a specific brief to solve a particular design challenge or need at a designated new or renovating W Hotel. Jon Stam, fresh from his Master in Social Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven, spent some time in the Swiss village of Verbier, where W Hotels will open its first ski retreat later this year. 

Between June 11-16, 2013, Canadian-born Jon Stam's work Claude Glass is on display in Messe Basel alongside Seung-Yong Song's Wheeljek Collection and Bethan Laura Wood's Crisscross. Claude Glass is a large blackened mirror that takes its name and inspiration from the 18th-century tinted mirrors used by artists to help them paint landscapes, named after the 17th-century landscape painter Claude Lorrain. In the perfect mountains of Verbier, Stam considered how he could, like the Claude glass that reflected the landscape in a picturesque manner, make the beautiful 'more beautiful' and took photographs of reflections of the landscape through windows - playing with light and reflections.

Can you tell us about your experience at Verbier?

“My experience in Verbier was very different than my experience at home in Amsterdam and in my studio. I live in Amsterdam East, way below sea level. This was way above sea level in the most beautiful mountains that I have seen. Verbier is a very small village but their visitors come from all over the world. Going to Verbier in late spring made me want to experience it all through the seasons as many of the locals were talking about the beauty of the summer and how the snow may or may not be there but then it becomes completely green and lush and speckled with flowers.”

What was the design issue you were asked to address at Verbier? 

“The general brief for all three winners was 'making connections'. For me in my practice, this means looking at unique characteristics of a certain place, trying to bring history together with what is going on now, so it was very similar to how I approach my own work. The W Hotel Verbier is now under construction so my inspiration was focused more toward the outside. Through conversations with the owners I got to understand their ambitions. They see it as a year-round retreat, while most people only experience the destination in the winter.

“I think my project 'Claude Glass,' tries to addresses this. Claude Glass' is an abstract timepiece that captures the landscape of Verbier. I collaborated with local photographer Guido Perrini to capture 24-hour time-lapses throughout the seasons. These appear as constantly changing digital images on the shiny, blackened glass of a large, circular wall-mirror, where one can speed up or reverse time by turning the object. A computer behind the mirror runs customised software that I developed with a hardware specialist and programmer. Once started, the time-lapse sequences run continuously, but viewers can physically turn the mirror to alter the image sequence. As most tourists experience the destination during its world renowned ski season, Claude Glass provides a medium for a different kind of travel, showcasing the picturesque all year long.”

In addition to being showcased at Design Miami/ Basel, the newly commissioned, site-specific works will later be installed at their specific designed-for location, Jon Stam's in Verbier,  Seung-Yong Song's in Bankok and  Bethan Laura Wood's in Mexico City.

1 Seung-Yong Song, Bethan Laura Wood and Jon Stam
2 Claude Glass & Jon Stam 
3  -Jon Stam in Verbier
4- 7- Inspiration image from Jon Stam Residency at W Hotels Worldwide Verbier

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