CO GLASS JEWELLERY is a small Amsterdam-based contemporary glass Jewellery company by Venetian artist Cosima Montavoci.
Style is elegant, bold, chunky and sculptural, Cosima is the maker and thinker, takes her inspiration from people, from her art practice and always listens to what the glass has to say, she’s giving Murano glass a contemporary look and getting rid of the dust and stereotypes that come with this beautiful material.
Cosima Montavoci, Head of Co Glass Jewellery, mind behind the Jewellery and hands behind each bead. She talks to us at House of Coco and tells us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Co Glass Jewellery was officially launched in January 2016. Although I have been working with glass since I was 16 years old, after I graduated in Fine Arts in 2015 and finally had time to think what to do next, I was suddenly drawn again towards this material in a wiser and more sculptural way. This is how Co Glass Jewellery was born, but it’s evolving everyday and we are working on new collections that highlight the beauty of glass through the contamination with other materials to express our ideas and the full potential of glass.
What’s your background?
I was born in Venice, Italy and, maybe also because of my beautiful hometown, I’ve been interested in Fine Arts since I cannot even remember.
My interest in Arts was always very clear and when, at 14 years old, I decided to study in an Art High School nobody was really surprised. At 16, almost by mistake, I encountered glass, a material I quickly fell in love with.
Despite my love for traditional glass craftsmanship and Art, both my school and the training I had in Murano turned out to be too traditional for where I wanted to push myself.
In 2007 I started working at the Greek Pavillion of the Venice Biennale finding myself thrown in a totally different context, perhaps closer to my what I was looking for, but not yet ideal. While I was seeking for my own halfway, I decided to apply to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, a very prestigious and open-minded school, where I could explore with a wide range of material, experiment with bigger sculptural and installation works, and learn how to guide the visitor’s reactions. I somehow unlearned everything I knew so far just to find my own way to process both traditions and contemporary art.
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Right now Co Glass Jewellery is still a family business. I am the “Maker and Thinker” responsible for the design and the creation of the jewellery, including each single glass bead that I make myself, while my partner Luca Bontempi takes care of the marketing and ecommerce development. Although we cover a wide range of skills, we are not superheroes ☺ we do need help of other professionals every now and then.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I think mistakes are natural, and properly dealt with can bring you in very interesting places you wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
Even though we have made mistakes and some choices that were definitely not the easiest, we are very happy of where they have brought us and what they have taught us.
Our journey with Co Glass Jewellery has just begun and keeps on being adorned with wonderful surprises.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
The hardest challenge was, and actually still is, the common (mis)conception of Murano Glass Jewellery. Often is seen as something for only a mature crowd, full of colours and flowers and what not. We want to change that conception, and highlight the beauty of glass in a respectful way for the material itself, and we are seeing more and more interest from a younger audience. We are confident though, we are lucky enough to live in times where people are more and more interested in craftsmanship, small-batch productions and unique products.
Finding a balance between an ancient tradition (did you know that glass beads were one of the first forms of currencies?) and innovation is also reflected on how we approach the market: we mainly sell online, but we want to remain human and talk with our customers even if behind screens. It’s being very much appreciated, which is heartwarming! We also offer assistance in case there is any problem with the jewellery: high-quality products should come with a high-quality and personal service.
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Beside creating Jewellery I am also still active as a contemporary artist, making sculptures and installations.
If my jewellery adorns the body, my sculptures are sometimes made of body parts. For instance, the sculptures I’m currently exhibiting in Italy are covered in over 10000 casts of my teeth. Another example is my reinterpretation of the traditional Flemish Vanitas with bread skulls: while Vanitas capsules time passing by in a still life, I’ve taken its main element and make it decay beautifully over the course of the exhibition.
2017 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
This year was for us very fruitful to create a strong foundation for our company, now that we have a well-working ecommerce and solid basic collections, is finally time for us to have fun and make new collections that really reflect us and build the brand. For the rest just keep on going with all the love and passion we have.
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Even though our path with Co Glass Jewellery has been full of wonderful surprises, I think the biggest highlight so far was to be contacted to be featured on Glamour UK before we even finished uploading professional product pictures. It made us realize everything is going pretty fast!
Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
Being born in Venice and now living in Amsterdam, I feel more at home in more human-sized environments. Don’t get me wrong, I love visiting these cities, there’s everything and more happening there, but I would be more of a Bristol or Edinburgh kind of girl. The most important thing is to be close to the sea!
Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Chanel red lipstick in my bag, just in case of emergency, handmade natural moisturiser, cold-pressed olive oil hand cream (Idea Toscana).
Be yourself, feel gorgeous and overdo it if you feel confident, if you don’t it shows! Having a critical eye definitely helps in choosing clothing that highlight your strengths, but mostly, accessorize!
Best thing about London to you?
I love the museums and the free ticket policy in the UK, culture should be accessible to everyone. Every time I visit London I make sure to pass by the Borough Market, which I particularly love. The Beigel Shop in Brick Lane is also a must!
Fun fact: my phone was stolen on the Tube by a drunken chav who later realized it was a brick and dumped it somewhere. Many friends and weird encounters later, I crossed the whole city but I managed to find my beloved brick in Woodside Park.
Statement shoe or statement bag?
Statement shoes and Statement necklace of course! I’m a big fan of Chie Mihara and United Nude.
If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
Definitely dresses, all colours and sizes. Lately beside the dresses I am always wearing Centouno Grey Choker and stud earrings for my everyday look, with some classics you cannot go wrong.
Favourite love song?
Since it’s many years I’m away from Italy, I have to go for “Un’avventura” by Lucio Battisti. If I had to pick an International one, it would be Nothing but Flowers by Talking Heads.
Best place for a coffee?
Trieste is the place. Many think that Naples is the capital of coffee, but it very much depends on personal taste. Trieste offers amazing sweet blends and it’s very difficult to find a bad coffee. It’s an underrated city but has a unique royal and decadent atmosphere.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
I have to first understand what I want to express before worrying about aesthetics.
If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
On a deserted tropical beach somewhere in the south of Mexico.
In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
We have started an inspiring collaboration with Martina Novak, a very talented photographer, to work on visuals that actually represent what we have to say.
Now that the foundations have been laid, I want to bring my artistic practice and the jewellery closer together. I’m experimenting mixing new materials with glass and planning a “body parts” collection: glass teeth, eyes and breasts will surely be part of it.
Where can people find out more? (website/social media)
On the website you can also subscribe to our very non-invasive newsletter to keep up with the latest news and collections ☺
If you want to know more about my artistic practice, you can see selected artworks at: