The Glassology by Libbey Class of 2018, l-r: Kenji Jesse, Thomas Ryan, Lewis Parry, Pedro Ribeiro, Yochen Verbeeck, Mihals Minckovsis
You may argue that the world doesn’t need another cocktail glass. But we, along with the good folk at Libbey disagree. Sure you can get a Martini, Highball, Collins, Rocks, Flute and Coupe glass pretty much anywhere. However, much like a suit, dress or pair of shoes – one design does not suit every occasion.
As our name implies, we love a cocktail. If we had to pick a favourite – a dry gin Martini with a twist wins every time. Now, does it taste the same when drunk from a bog standard v-shaped vessel or does our perception of the drink and our enjoyment of it change when it’s sipped from a fine stemmed glass crafted from delicate crystal?
Diego Ferrari tests Mihals Minckovsis Precipice glass
This is the thinking behind Glassology by Libbey. Unlike most competitions that we write about where the emphasis is on what goes inside the glass, this one is about the glass itself. Bartenders, baristas – in fact, anyone who works in the service industry is invited to submit an entry for a design that they think cuts a dash in the looks and functionality department. But a nice drawing and what we novices might think is a cracker of an idea is the easy part. Transferring it into something that can be produced and actually used is another thing entirely.
Pedro Ribeiro with his design, Eri
More than 350 people from around the world entered; 24 made it through to the two semi-finals which were held in Amsterdam and Lisbon earlier this year. After presenting their ideas and getting feedback from the judging panel and the Libbey tech team, six concepts made it through to the grand final which was held at the Perfect Serve show in Amsterdam on 28th May.
It was a very cool affair. More so because each of the finalists were able to see, touch and feel their designs which were recreated in high-grade plastic, printed in 3D. Not that you’d know that they weren’t the real thing – each groove, each chink, each unique detail that they’d sketched was captured perfectly. All the better for serving the drinks that each of the them had devised as the perfect serve for their one-of-a-kind vessels.
Mihals Minckovsis (Latvia), Pedro Ribeiro (United Kingdom), Lewis Parry (United Kingdom), Thomas Ryan (United Kingdom), Jochen Verbeeck (Belgium) and Kenji Jesse (United Kingdom) each had ten minutes to talk through their ideas and we, along with Simon Difford, Tara Garnell, Frauke Timmermans, Deigo Ferrari and Robert Schinkel who made up the judging panel, had the tricky job of scoring them.
Kenji Jesse showcases his copper and glass creation, The Swirl
The overall marks were based on a number of factors including the strength of their design, the concept, whether the glass was functional and indeed commercial. There were other things tto consider too, such as whether the glass aligned with Libbey’ core values, could it be extended into a bigger series, did the cocktail suit the glass, was the presentation good and lastly, the name given to it. Pretty tough stuff, made even harder because all of the designs were thoughtfully conceived and delivered.
Mihals Minckovsis gave us an elegant Champagne coupe based on an idea where the sand at the bottom of the sea is brought to shore to produce a glass, while Pedro Ribeiro offered a geometric, multi-faceted flute for a modern era. Lewis Parry served up a vessel with a rounded base and short stem, specifically designed to cradle a hand-carved ice ball, and Kenji Jesse’s design incorporated glass and a spiral of copper so the drinker could choose to sip from the cool metal side or from the warmer, textured glass. Thomas Ryan took inspiration from the stars for his bespoke Collins glass whereas Yochen Verbeeck looked to his grandmother’s glass cabinet as the starting point for his glamorous, Art Deco-esque tumbler designed with male and female drinkers in mind.
Yochen Verbeeck with his winning design, The Gatsby
It was Yochen’s strong, sleek and stylish creation that took the top prize. Elegant to look at but robust at the same time, his Gatsby glass will be available to buy next year. Check the Libbey website for details. And not only has Yochen earned bragging rights was the second Glassology by Libbey winner, he’ll be receiving 250 of his designs plus a ticket to New Orleans as Glassology brand ambassador next month. Nice work!