Alberto Donà and the Donà family

I met Alberto and his wife Loredana last time I was in Murano. It is always a pleasure to meet up with them.

Alberto has not changed over time and has a very humble, gentle way of talking.

He started his company in the 70s after working at and learning from many companies. The name of the company reflects his style, not Vetreria Artistica, no coat of arms, simply Componenti Donà.  Walking through the furnace, when making new prototypes, you can see that from the gaffer to the cold shop person everything is based on working in a team. His son David now is running the piazza.

He hosted the Santillana brothers Laura and Alessandro after Venini was abruptly bought-out by Gardini in the 80s and allowing them start a new company: EOS. Lino Tagliapietra, after leaving Effetre, found his space here. Dale Chihuly’s first experiences in Murano was inside the Donà walls.

There is a skill that Alberto developed among the Murano maestros and that everyone credits him for that: the ability to stretch and create large pieces with a perfect control of the shape. This is true both in massiccio and in blown pieces. His control of pulling glass is not only in shape details but also on colors, using a special technique to avoid fading colors, similar to filigree. Whoever worked with Alberto ended up adding length to their pieces, and definition on the colors.

His glass is harder and has a better “shoulder”. It is like the difference between honey and caramel. There is less soda and more potash in the mix, and brings about a better optical quality (transparency and refraction), no cords and annoying soda spit that sometimes happens to very soft glass. The color palette is different and he can get unusual greens and ambers, achievable otherwise with the mezzetinte technique. The drawback is that his glass is not compatible with Effetre standard rods and murrinas; so on the one hand he can’t play with embedding canes, frits and do piera working, but on the other hand this limitation ends up making his pieces unique and elegant.

As many in Murano, he never even thought about signing his pieces. I was probably the first to ask when we started working through Oggetti. I believe I might have written his first biography. Slowly his works are attracting collectors’ attention and “signed Alberto Donà” has become a plus on every piece.

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