People usually engage with architecture once something is already built, but the final result is…
It’s the home of some of the most beautiful creations to emerge from Canberra, and now the Canberra Glassworks has a stunning new place to show them off.
The Canberra Glassworks has this week opened their brand new retail space, stocking a curated range of handmade glassware to shop and browse.
The selection includes creations made on-site at the Canberra Glassworks hot shop from local makers, as well as some curated Australian-designed accompaniments. It has long created a marketplace for artists to showcase their creations and develop a dialogue between the process of artistic development and the function of the completed product.
The Canberra Glassworks team were keen to breathe new life into the space, so they engaged local design studio Skeehan to complete the project.
The new retail space sits just off the foyer at the Canberra Glassworks, replacing the previous shop which has remained much the same since it first opened back in 2007.
“For more than 13 years we have worked within a retail space that was generic in its style and with poor wayfinding,” said Canberra Glassworks CEO Julie Skate.
“Our brief to the designer was to provide a solution for a retail fit-out that would reflect our brand image, showcase the extraordinary works that are made here and to create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. As we are displaying a variety of high-quality handmade glass, it required a carefully selected palette of colours and finishes that enhanced the beauty and transparency of glass. The result is a space that embraces the changing needs of the retailing environment while also providing an enjoyable experience for both the consigning artists and the public.”
While the store sits in the same space as before, it’s almost unrecognisable to its predecessor.
The front reception desk, which used to enclose the store, has now been relocated to one side to give the shop a new open-plan layout. One side is dominated by a sweeping curved plinth which flows around a corner, coated in a textured Venetian render, which is designed to reflect the circular and organic nature of the glass blowing process. The overall result is a gallery-like space, which disappears into the background and lets the glassware stand out.
“We wanted to really respond to the product and think about how someone experiences a glass object, what’s important when you’re viewing premium work like that, and how the space kind of just gets out of the way,” said Skeehan director Tom Skeehan.
“We didn’t want the space to be too influential and dominant, we still just wanted it to have a bit of unique language to it.”
The Canberra Glassworks is a not-for-profit organisation with a strong focus on community, so Skeehan Studio wanted to keep that community feel by bringing the project to life through strong local collaborations.
To complete the build, they teamed up with Josh Hunter from J.Hunter Carpentry, architect Charlie White, plus a range of local manufacturers including Joel Douglas, Capital Precision Coating, and the space also features a commissioned artwork by Matthew Curtis.
“Basically the same way we’d approach any bespoke furniture product, we just linked up with all these amazing trades and got them to do a little bit of what they’re specialists in,” said Tom.
“So that was the most important part of the project; that collaboration and people going above and beyond the paycheck and actually trying to do something that’s meaningful.”
Ms Skate said the Canberra Glassworks believes in both supporting artists and providing them an avenue to create income, and that the new retail space will help both the artists and the iconic venue to continue to flourish into the future.
“Making our retail space ‘hot to trot ‘in a very competitive market took many threads and much stitching, and judging by the response from the public, I think we exceeded expectations,” she said.
“It is so refreshing to now have a retail area that truly integrates with our historic building and where the space is utilised to its maximum.”
What: The refurbished Canberra Glassworks shop
Where: Canberra Glassworks, 11 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston
When: Open Wednesday to Sunday 10 am-4 pm
Website: Visit canberraglassworks.com