For Interior Designs owner Carol L. Simon, working with blown glass is more than just a means to making a living. From finding vintage pieces in obscure locales -- like the pair of lamps she spotted on the top shelf of a Ponchatoula flea market -- to seeing the pieces painstakingly brought back to splendor as fine lamps by her collaborative counterpart, artist/designer C. Daniel Fox, Simon's relationship with glass is part treasure hunt, part rehabilitation and part design dream come true.
Simon met Fox, who had been working in architecture and fresco painting, in the mid-'90s. Sharing an interest in glass, the two collaborated on Simon's vision of creating a line of lamps from the strong craftsmanship and smooth contours of the blown-glass medium.
"As a designer, I have a very clear vision of what I want to see in interiors," Simon says. "Glass attracts me because it reflects light and has a solid presence while being translucent. I didn't want anything to distract from that. I wanted it to be about the glass."
Since the debut of his first line, Fox has become a national design figure for his work with blown-glass lamps. The creative process starts with a thorough scouring of estate sales, flea markets and warehouses to look for glass pieces. First-rate finds are Italian blown-glass vessels -- preferably from the island of Murano, where the art of glass-blowing originated. Some are one-of-a-kind, while others are production pieces, meaning they were individually handcrafted as part of a line for a design company.
"He's so knowledgeable about the glass," Simon says. "He's got this savvy for seeing beneath the grime and recognizing potential beauties."
Once he finds the vessels, Fox begins the restoration process. Some pieces are so dirty and unrecognizable, it takes a month of soaking and gentle washing to revive them. While some of Fox's working vessels were originally conceived as lamp bases and require no alteration, the designer also converts vases, bowls and other objects by carefully drilling holes for the wiring. Fox attaches them to a Lucite base, installs the wiring and crowns the piece with one of his simple, yet geometrically powerful shades. Those lampshades, Simon says, are meticulously designed to complement the unique character of the glass.
The finished pieces have a clean, sleek look and stunning individuality that have made Fox a leading designer in his field. While the artist has been living in Houston since before Katrina, he still claims New Orleans has his "heart and soul." Although his work is sold at a design shop in Houston, he cites Interior Designs as his "exclusive retail presence in the country."
C. Daniel Fox's unique blown-glass lamps range in price from $900-$2,500. They are available exclusively at Interior Designs Inc. (3814 Magazine St., 895-5110).
- Cheryl Gerber
- This lime green swirl lamp base is made from vintage Murano glass. The lamp, designed by C. Daniel Fox, retails for $2,000.