Marcantonio Brandolini D’Adda, Venice

A very young designer – the blown Murano glass and the relations his main fields of action – tells us about his life outside the celebrities or the fashion magazines where he is very often the subject of many portraits.

He here tells about himself outside the glamour which, I discovered, does not belong to him at all: he values processes and what remains after the action, he is not attracted from the évènementiel even if at his young age he is very keen of the weight of words and of the value of communication.

Few weeks ago we’ve told you how poetry and literature can often change the world even authors are paying the highest price for it. This week at Slow Words we want to tell you the untold folds of a story we do never deal here with – dynasties, heralds and aristocracy which never stopped, discrete, to change the world with uncanny twists nowadays.

I met for the first time Marcantonio Brandolini D’Adda during the opening of his first important exhibition of pieces branded by his Laguna B, the glass design company his mother founded and he took over once she unexpectedly died. Marcantonio was premiering lamps and vases made with a very elegant touch – unpolished and glowing at the same time – in a very aristocratic mansion among the most beautiful ones in Milan (it was an Airbnb design exhibition!). Those vases, 15 editions made in a few weeks, have been sold-out!

This story runs very fast between design and innovation of processes more than merely of products because Murano Glass has a millenary history.



I got very interested in your life – it is short given you’re only 25 years old – but I crave to read only what is not finding space in gossip magazines or in fashion outlets where you’re very often portrayed and told. I crave to read the very inner Marcantonio, the one is often left untold. I knew already you studied abroad and that you started to travel very early.

These 25 years have been flowing very quickly for different reasons. First of all, because I left home at 16 to study in a boarding school. And, then, because I’ve been quite spoiled (in a certain sense I’m still quite spoiled, but now I’m ‘independent’). Everything a youngster could have been living now, I did already before him. And therefore now I’m ready to settle and to have a family and sons.

I got very passioned with a city which I really hated before and I’m convinced that here you’re free to set and create what you wish because there is an incredible potential. I speak of Venice.

I was not loving Venice as a kid because I wanted to have a different life – when you are a teenager you blow your mind with splendor, journeys, parties, women, disco clubs and drugs. Back in those years, I hated Venice because she was denying me all those cliches. And also because when I was 14 Venice could not give what she gives me now, now that I’m changed.

Yes, I traveled a lot. I studied in Switzerland and then in London and, lately, I spent six months in Argentina.

Design has a double aim for me, like glass. It is important to design lamps, or vases, because I work in Murano. In a smaller scale, that island for me is the actual world: many companies are so selfish – and they have a very old mentality. Many entrepreneurs do not read the insane potential they hold in their hands. To succeed to do what we do (‘we’ are a team, I’m not alone at Laguna B) is, in that small scale, something like to change the world. What I am doing with glass can be done on any other product, I mean really any: from spare tires to bananas to French fries.

I returned very happily back to Venice, I have to say, afte this long pilgrimage. I had truly chosen her.



Laguna B is a project your mother started many years ago and that you’re continuing in a different way: not only functional glass editions – to buy online and offline – but a true synergy among glass masters, students and schools, new ways to strength relations and to change also the way to produce Murano glass…

It stands as a total refusal for what I lived in the past. I liked and like design but it is not all that matters. I’m more concentrated on the whole, on the system, on how to communicate and how to leave an example to the people of my age, to guys like me and, why not, to my future sons.



You have a series of responsibilities and duties toward a land where your family is rooted since XIth Century. Is this the way you make your bloodline, the aristocracy, the slice of the world you come from, alive?

I do not care about aristocracy, I hated all my life this world. I tell you, I’m a true burino. Politeness, extreme balance, no!

I have bonds with my family because they’re adorable human beings but I do not care of all what you mention! Of course I don’t bite the hand feeding me but my grandmother is just my grandmother and I love her for that, I love my father and my brothers for the same reason. They’ve all being terrific examples and they’ve taught me all I know. Another story is if I have to live as they were used a century ago….

(burino is a dialectal word we could translate as bumpkin. This interview takes place in a nice Venetian campo on a late and laid back summer afternoon, the light is shining red and blows around his curly hairs and the big tree leaves like a sparkle of fuse glass. 

He sits very elegantly on a little chair by never forgetting polite manners at our table and by keeping his voice on a low and graced tone: he is truly devoted to take care of what surrounds him not because he must: it is just because he loves to take care).



I really like all the Laguna B pieces, also the ones I saw in Milan

Laguna B is not only glass design. There is first of all the story of my mum and of her pieces. It is not only a design company, it is also a communication agency and much more. It has to be a community, it has to be many things. We’ve of course started not so long ago but we’re already stepping where we want. We’ve for instance accomplished the first experience with a school and its students (the Pilchuck Academy from Seattle, USA) coming in Murano by our invitation and together with us they’ve met six glass blowers and six different techniques.

It is the first exchange of this kind between America and Murano with the help of the workshops supporting us. As you start to work in Italy you’ve to know that institutions will never help you. After, maybe, long time you had shown you’re able to do something, maybe (I repeat!), they will probably back you.

Even if small, we aim to be an example of excellence. We also want the institutions help who is not able to start because has not enough means as us, after having properly observed the like of us and the small results reached in the field.



I also love your bravery in starting immediately hands on job, by learning from what you do at the same time. Of course, you have left in the bestseller pieces of your mother but you’ve revolutionized the concept (I also like your claim for Laguna B: you’ve one business on earth, to save souls – by rewriting a John Wesley’s sentence). And you add your pieces into the catalogue too.

Yes. The pieces you’ve seen in Milan are just the start. I started to work on and with Laguna B just one year and half ago, with my business partner Alvise.

Step by step, there will be new products within two weeks, which will be glasses. And then the project ‘The Artist’ where we add value for the Muranese masters, the real artists, we give them a design direction and they will follow it (we have also a program of documentaries: nobody knows, I speak of who comes for the first time in Murano, what is really behind this mastery).

Somebody thinks sometimes that Laguna B is just a playground of a rich kid, especially if this ‘somebody’ look at us from the very far. It’s not like that. I, therefore, want to tell you who we are and how we do what we do.

First of all we backed our start-up phase also by working for other companies (we design communication or sell other expertise).

Our aim is to create a factory with all the professional skills to serve the broader Venice. After me and Alvise, there is Tommaso (our other business partner, dealing with graphic design), then Zac dealing with video design and 3D with Rhino. And then Marco Filippi, web designer. There is also Alice (who speaks very well English and is coordinating the workshop with the schools and in general is very talented for managing any of our projects). I’m slowly bundling a group of talents who really bets on what they love and in this way we try also to repopulate Venice.

I observed a little while around me here: there are people to people movements born here for Venice and within the Venetians, led by youngsters or older citizens to help the city to reboot. I wish to follow them more but you know, life is a flow and is very depending from which moment I’m riding it.



I wish to ask you how do you see Laguna B in the next ten years

A very old 10.000 square meters Murano glass workshop in which I’m the happiest person in the world with lots of people surrounding me. A glass furnace, lots of synergies: the schools, a commercial gallery with lots of marketing appeal able to sell well the products we create via artistic residencies. A big factory never stopping to work and whose perimeter is not just ending with glass but includes music, dance, video-making. A place where you can find everything.

It must be a place like that here in Venice and I’m so astonished it is still lacking. I want this place exists and give peace. Exactly in Venice where everything is falling apart and, so, the act of resistance is even more valuable. To be sincere, it is always a good moment to do something which is stepping together with contemporaneity.

It is not a bad moment only for Venice, it is a tremendous moment for the entire planet. We’re loosing identity.

It is nice to settle in a place where anyone feels free to create and can feel useful in participating. It is exactly what I felt when I’ve been spending two weeks in the Seattle school I was mentioning before. I was surrounded by sane people who were sharing my same goals: to create beautiful outputs.

I’m not used to stop working but this is especially true when you’re in a fantastic place giving you all what you need (I do not of course mean things like luxury or materiality), in this way creation and concentration are never ending. From my viewpoint, the lack of what you wish pushes you toward craze, to be a workaholic. And when you’re in that dimension, you’ve time only for very important things. No fake or empty sentences on weather or on heatwaves or on icy days!

I aim to set a place all the Venice tourists can visit and where finally understand that what they do – like selfies and silly tours – is useless. I want to change the life of the people via new experiences. I imagine something like a museum, people walking from a side to another of long corridors with lots of papers in their hands…



Do you perhaps know that Murano is dead after 6 pm…everything shuts down….

I know it, and it is dead even before 6 pm. Because the people strolling there are not the people living there, so it is dead from any perspective.



Do you blow glass also?

I did some courses: first at Abate Zanetti, then in USA. And then you get that is better to do what you do better. I am more gifted in other tasks and you cannot make everything by yourself. It was indeed very wise to learn how to blow glass to learn about limits (of the glass and my personal ones). If you do not learn how to blow and enter a furnace, the workers will not respect you! You’re requested to learn the basics at least.



Which are the books and the music with you now?

I always had a problem in reading, I have a very low concentration. I’ve never been able to study a lot for this same reason. I’ve been more smart than talented in learned.

I’ve read The Old Man and the Sea five times. And that’s it. I’ve never read school books, I am not able to read.

I recently made a radical shift, I started a meditation course in Mestre which helped me a lot. I therefore started to read. Now I am at the third book. I’ve read Demons by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Il Deserto dei Tartari and that short story inspiring Apocalypse Now (Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad).

Music? Of any kind: I live constantly with music! I love especially Italian music, the classic one included.

I am like I am since not a long time: if you’re meeting me four years ago I was totally another person. I was always a good person but totally different. I totally erased what surrounded me at that time: useless people, distractions….



Is out there any secret location you would love to reach to read now that you started?

I like to read on a boat. Because the problem in reading, you might know it, is that you have to be concentrated. It is very hard nowadays, we’re always connected to something and when you are not easy in concentrating like me this becomes even harder. I of course compensate with something else and may think others do the same. Six months ago I was thinking: what the hell I will talk about at that dinner? I will surely talk 70% of myself and 30% I will be asking questions…so I do not have to talk of what I do not know…Because I always feel to know nothing.

If I had to read, I have to meditate first. I have first to track me in a specific mental state and hope that nobody will call me (I answer from 30 to 40 phone calls a day without mentioning messages and emails)….the other thing is that I am never able to be alone to read…

And you, when do you read?

(Diana Marrone) When I succeed to escape, I read very well on my boat as you. For instance yesterday I left my job for 30 minutes and I was delighted to read 80 pages of a book I wanted to finish (the only thing is that it is composed by….other 100!) and now I have to wait the other free moment I will find or to travel without internet….I was also very afraid to read so quickly those 80 pages because they, so, left a thiner gift inside me. I would be happier to have slowly tasted them…

(Marcantonio) I tell you: I would wish meditation will be scheduled at school. It is fantastic. If you will be enabled to get free, to breathe negativity out in the right way, it would be great! Meditation can be crucial also in the children education. It is tiring, of course, but it would be something able to stop all the wars.

I need a girlfriend, it has to be said!



(DM) I indeed need ‘the’ person. Not a ‘casual’ fling. I’m different at my older age. I’m too independent too (and too lonely for that, especially for the kind of job I was slave of in all those years). But, as you, I want to change now. It has to be said too that at my age is harder to find the right people around, they’re all a bit crazy. Or they’re coming from a previous failed marriage or from other lost familiar experiences.

I have a last question for you, which is the hardest!

What did you learn so far from life – a short one even if very oriented and determined? Maybe just one thing you’ve reached and make you calmer, something that is not anymore a challenging and mutating lava. Something that you did not understand earlier and that was troubling you because you’re not knowing it enough.



In truth, I did not learn anything and I was born as I am. And I am a good person. You cannot learn to be good, you are born in that way. For the moment, I maybe learned to relate with people, maybe I learned English (a very long list of things but none of them is constitutional, let’s say).

When I will learn to be really honest (with myself first and then when I have to say things as they are even if they wound the others, in a word to do not escape from troubles) I will be happy then.



Apart every day at work in Murano, you can meet Marcantonio on September 7 (until Sept. 17, 2017) at Galleria Alma Zevi (San Marco 3357, Salizada San Samuele) where he will premiere his new collection.

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