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Murano Glass: from the Venetian Lagoon to the World
This is a story going back nearly a thousand years, with its origins in the beautiful lagoon of Venice.
It is the story of artistic glass-making in Murano, one of the finest forms of Italian production and long exported to every part of the world.
Many years have passed since, in 1291, the island first became important for manufacturing artistic glass.
This was thanks to a decree by the Venetian Republic, which sanctioned the transfer of the glass furnaces from the city. In fact, on more than one occasion, these furnaces had been the cause of serious fires in Venice, exacerbated by the fact that the buildings at that time were mostly constructed in wood.
As the president of the Promovetro Murano Consortium, Luciano Gambaro, explained, production has been continuous from that time onwards, and the tradition of artistic glass-making has been passed down from father to son, although not without moments of difficulty.
Indeed, the economic crisis that has plagued the world economy in recent years has also been felt in this industry. As Luciano Gambaro explained: "Artistic Murano glass has many applications, ranging from jewellery to chandeliers, and to ornaments and mirrors. It's a unique product with no equal in the world, but it cannot be termed a basic necessity, and for this reason especially has felt the effects of the crisis." According to the president of the Consortium, improvements in technical and commercial skills are the best way to overcome current difficulties, as well as the promotion of team work.
As Mr. Gambaro emphasised, it was precisely for this reason, and in order to pursue a more systematic approach, that the Consortium was created.
The organisation includes 80% of the businesses involved in primary processing, comprising about 45-50 companies.
Together with the Consortium, a brand name was also adopted. This remains the property of the Veneto region (and so is institutional and private) and was created especially for producers of Murano glass.
As the president explained: "The brand has an important function as it serves to both identify the product and to protect it, giving a clear idea to the consumer what 'Made in Murano' actually stands for". Use of the brand name is conceded for three years with a possibility of renewal, and the group is concentrating increasingly on computerisation, allowing access to all the information regarding product traceability.
This is no small achievement when you consider that this artistic glass, with its various applications, attracts orders from all over the world.
For a long time, the island's main trading partner was the United States, but now, as a natural development, there is also increasing interest from other emerging countries, such as China, India and Russia.