Design Perspective – Laura Quinn

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From the Autumn edition

In Laura Quinn’s small residence in the Cotswolds, pages of sketches are pasted on the walls. Pencil, charcoal and pen describe potential new work to be made at a time when the glass furnace studio is next available. The drawings are the starting point for her wearable art pieces, theatrical confections of leather, rubber, metal and intricately worked glass reminiscent of the energy of Sonja Landweer’s jewellery.

Laura Quinn is currently employed as a glassblowing assistant in a small production workshop in Cirencester. It’s hot hard work, helping resident master blowers create their production of glass tableware. She works all day gathering glass from a furnace that reaches 1,300 degrees, making the studio temperatures soar to 45 degrees in the summer months. For Quinn this is a means to an end, a rare apprenticeship for which she had to pass a three-month trial period before being offered a year-long contract. The training allows her to have valuable hours at the hot glass furnace where she can hone her making skills and develop new ideas in hot glass. In part exchange for her labour, she is given some hours each week to experiment on her own work. She blows, cuts and assembles many small components to create new objects. Of late, working along themes of daily rituals, both wearable and sculptural pieces have emerged.

At age 23, glassmaking has created an opportunity for Laura Quinn to travel to unusual places, learning new skills while broadening her general knowledge. In 2014 she spent a trimester as an exchange student in the Southern Illinois University glass department under Jiyong Lee before graduating in 2015 with joint first-class honors from NCAD. Her degrees in Art History and Design and Craft Design, included a specialism in glass design and making. With a showstopper of a degree show, Quinn’s striking work attracted public attention. The OPW were quick to purchase a piece for the State Collection on the opening night (Fig 2). A month later selection for the Brown Thomas designer showcase ‘Create’ launched her work in the front windows of the store alongside other established artists. This was quickly followed by a selection for the National Craft Awards at the RDS.

Following her degree she won an internship at the prestigious Corning Museum of Glass, working alongside professional artists all summer long. Next it was a trip to Estonia on an Erasmus scheme, where she spent three months working as an assistant at a small glassblowing studio. Now she is working towards taking a Masters in jewellery to build on skills in other materials. With a hunger to succeed and an ability to adapt to new situations, this young designer is one to watch.

Róisín de Buitléar is a visual artist, educator and curator.