Saint Heron introduces Small Matter: Form Glassware 001, the second range of glassware designed by multidisciplinary artist Solange Knowles. Made to support the leisure of routine, day-to-day use, the form collection aims to shape environments and grow personal collections of Black art through thoughtfully choreographed design. Each object draws inspiration from the histories and futures objects contain, and translates the time/process-capturing memories of glass through direct engagement with the material’s unique properties; how glass bends light, reflects the characteristics of its beholders, and refracts the colors of its surrounding environments. In the most poetic way, these objects live through what they represent: aesthetic-forward expressions of traditional, experimental and intuition-led design for everyone. Small Matter: Form Glassware 001 conveys Small Matter’s design language in a line of signature glassware for home. Saint Heron’s design studio and gallery, Small Matter, explores sculptural and architectural vigor within a range of signature works for commerce. Small Matter’s design language represents Saint Heron’s uninhibited innovation and ethos through small-scale functional sculptures, architectural objects and design collections.



Going from initial sketch, to 3D renderings, refinements, to the initial round of prototypes, then to the final product took almost two years. Super rewarding to have seen this process through to fruition!” — Conway Liao (Founder, CEO & Creative Director of Hudson Wilder)

Small Matter: Form Glassware 001 is made from borosilicate glass (commonly known as Pyrex) and was produced by master glass blowers in a generative manufacturing process dedicated to extending quality design’s reach through relatable, Black-created objects that inspire and broaden notions of personal art collections. The glass blowers begin with tubes of raw borosilicate glass poured into heat-torched graphite molds, which protect and perfect consistent uniformity between the objects’ forms. After meticulously blowing into and rotating the torches’ fired-mold ends, each blown piece is fed into a furnace-like oven to fuse parts that complete the final object. The resulting collection materializes multiple dimensions of beauty in transparent and onyx-hued, lustrous, durable and lightweight glassware that is harder and stronger than soda-lime (typical manufactured, everyday glass); and has low coefficients of thermal expansion for safe consumption of both hot and cold beverages.



While the Small Matter: Form Glassware 001 objects are decorative and functional statements of glass art, they’re designed for the purpose of effectuating home’s atmosphere in communion with objects’ own narratives — themes Solange Knowles has spent time in conversation with through her musical and physical art practices. Her most recent full length album, 2019’s When I Get Home, sonically surveyed her relationship with her hometown of Third Ward Houston, Texas. The album simultaneously marked Houston’s impact on Knowles as an artist, and alluded to a vital element of her personal life and creative autonomy: the implicit and explicit power of connecting with the places and spaces we call home. This collection builds on that with contemporary glass incarnations of a new design heritage; the artist’s own design articulations intertwined with musings on the lives, memories and histories of material objects, and the energies they hold and emit in our spaces.

Solange Knowles’s discipline-spanning artistry is mostly diaristic and solitary during ideation. Her contemplative and imaginative approaches to intentional creative expression are sharpened privately with a devotion to necessarily-paced time, historical and cultural studies, and practice. Then, with the intimacy of process established, she attunes her artistic sensibilities to expressions of collective empowerment. While visiting Third Ward earlier this month, we had the honor of witnessing the warmness of the artist’s native neighborhood. “It’s good to see you home,” and “Nice to see you taking care of yourself. We need you,” and other very affirming greetings met her nearly everywhere she went. It feels as if that convivial warmness is exactly what she hopes to extend to our community through this collection; a tangible warmness of culturally significant, quality design that promotes personal space curation. 

For our latest dossier feature, Saint Heron's Executive Writer and Editor, Shantel Aurora, spoke to Solange Knowles about the new Small Matter: Form Glassware 001 collection.

Saint Heron: Space and time have been a recurring theme in your visual and performance art practices, and you often speak fondly about the presence, lives, memories and energies of objects; both, in relation to space and throughout time. How did you arrive at surveying the consciousness of objects and where did your affinity to commune with objects in this way come from?

Solange Knowles: Objects, much like architecture, have been a grounding tool for me in a lifetime of constant moving around. I love the memories associated with an object, and the way our senses can respond to those. I think about the ways we use objects to give [different] spaces a sense of home and belonging. One of my earliest memories of this was decorating my 6th grade locker. I used all of my little tickets at Dave and Busters to collect slinkys, or furry things, or glitter balls, just to occupy the space. I think we all relate to the way that objects are a marker of time and how they become part of our identity, or tell stories about ourselves. I have distinctive memories about how the corners of a clock felt in my palms. The way things feel in our hands. The weight of an object. These are all things I've paid a lot of attention to over the years, and the ways they make me feel safe. Safety, I’m learning, is one of the most valued compasses of mine. So I used that in this process of creating an object with my own ideas and thoughts. 



SH: Practicing in multiple mediums, you’ve developed and sharepened your sculptural and architectural design sensibilities for visual/physical art. Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to begin working with glass?

SK: Yes! A few years ago I actually started working on resin sculptures. I initially started with making my own silicone molds out of objects I found around the house, and then I began to make my own small objects; cutting wood, or sometimes plastic or cardboard. I've always been fascinated by Fred Eversley’s ideas about luminosity and [I’m] attracted to transparency. Transparency in our human lives is, I think, one of the most generous and loving things you can share with someone; and the way that transparency in an object can be so reflective. So I began that relationship with creating objects in resin. Then I began to think about how those ideas could be translated into glass, and the ways that that could change them.

I went to Florida on a retreat and ended up taking glassblowing classes. Immediately, I felt the lessons learned through the material. Glass is a material – you always have to be constantly moving and finding that song and dance between the heat and the fluidness, and knowing this is a material in part created by earthly elements. It's a real surrender and there's a sense of control you must give up to work within that space. Control is something I have a complicated relationship with. On one end, it's kept me safe, and on the other it's made me miss out on a lot of potentially beautiful moments. I am presently learning the very hard lesson of letting go and that's been difficult for me.

So finding healing in that metaphor of the process of glassmaking really hit me. I knew this was a material I wanted to work with and evolve with, so I started with the process of designing the shapes and silhouettes, and playing with repetition and sacred geometry – and all of these elements that have been recurrent conversations through my visual work. To translate that from set design or printed matter into something that will actually be lived with, and experienced within fellowship, and hopefully even celebration is such sacred work I cherish so deeply. I feel forever grateful for the access to expand and have support while doing so. 

SH: What I love about this collection is that, much like Saint Heron’s overall ethos, it moves the rhetoric of diversity, equity and inclusion into actual systems that function to prioritize Black artists and Black collectors. This collection does that by literally concentrating the imagination, beauty, sophistication and expression in Black art, and placing it Black hands and homes for Black ownership. Can you talk about why it’s important for intentional and creative design to be accessible by everyone and how this collection speaks to that?

SK: Well, I think about my mom and her relationship to objects growing up, how on Easter and Thanksgiving she would pull out the really nice plates and glasses. And this was a signal to us to get dressed, and that we were gonna sit down and have an important meal. It signaled, “this is an occasion,” and one to make memories out of. I think about another time when she was obsessed with cherub angels, and how we had all of the little porcelain angel statues – most [of which] she’d painted black, cherub clocks, and even wallpaper borders.

Also, one year for Christmas, all she wanted was a Fabergé egg. It makes me reflect on all of the possibilities of collecting objects made from our own ideas and thoughts about the world, and crystalizing that into an object of matter. I think about ways objects are another important way for us to take up literal space and how deserving we are of having black collections preserved and revered and even studied by future generations as a means of opening up more ways to say, “We were here.”  

SH: There’s a Kodwo Eshun quote that you referenced during Saint Heron’s Passage project with Woolmark. “Centuries from now people could look at this room, and if we are all gone but your tripod is still here, and if you were gone but your book was still here, they would be able to reconstruct us from the constellation of postures that we left behind. All these things [objects] are living, but are living at a different perception, living at a totally different rate from us. Often, I try to think from the viewpoint of the object. It’s a matter of understanding that the whole world is enchanted at different levels.” What does that mean to you?

SK: I sat with a lot of Kodwo Eshun’s philosophies about objects. Thinking about what a chair may say to another chair once I leave the room, imagining secret languages between objects – these objects witness us at our best and at our worst. I believe there is spirit in everything created. That's why I call these objects "small matter". It’s about the energy force between the origin of thought into the completion of creation, and how that gets materialized through the way we interact with these creations. That is sacred no matter the scale.

SH: This collection, from idea to tangible product has been a couple of years in the making to perfect the final finish and form. And a common theme among many glass artists is how the crystallization of glass objects sort of freezes moments and captures time in the material. I’m curious to hear how your awareness or consideration of that is translated through the material and how relevant that is for you during creation? (Or how your awareness of that deepened your practice in the medium.)

SK: That's why these exist and what I hope to strive for with any one of my creations. I see these glass objects as evidence of a time in my own personal journey. A time stamp. It is my hope that they find their way into people's own personal moments of time that can be reflective and grow and evolve with people through various stages of their own lives. It has been an honor to create this kind of connection, from process to existing, within the hands of my community.