Lalique

Some Lalique jewelry at the Gulbenkian

Innovative, original, sometimes even disturbing, it fascinates and… tires: it’s hard to see how it can be more than a passing fancy, how one may not suffer a surfeit of it. The traditional designs are duller, as if quenched, and they… never tire.

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Some Lalique glass at the Gulbenkian in Lisbon

Having established his reputation as a daring designer of jewelry — one often using innovative glass effects alongside gems — Lalique devoted himself to mass production of cheap collectible glass. One suspects one reason for this was the economics of design: even today great brands make more money in $15 T-shirts (where the volume is) than they make in haute-coulture dresses at $5,000 a pop (where there ain’t). But one also suspects Lalique liked to work in glass more than he liked to work in jewels. These — at the Gulbenkian — are extraordinary; and my favorite is the one at the top.