Atelier NL challenges the conservative conventions of today’s glass manufacturing industry by sourcing and using naturally occurring sand from dunes, beaches and other sandy places in various parts of Europe. After intensive research and experimentation and thoroughly analysing different formulations, designers Nadine Sterk and Lonny van Ryswyck have succeeded in fusing locally occurring, natural sand to create unique objects made from glass. By experimenting with sand from different regions, AtelierNL shows that it is possible to make highly attractive products from sand available in nature, and that the result differs every time. Moreover, by doing so this research offers an alternative for the conventional glass industry, of which the sand quarries will become exhausted at one point. The objects make up the ZandGlas tableware range. Each glass object is stamped with the origin of the natural sand to emphasise the connection with the source. At present, AtelierNL creates glass objects from sand taken from the Sand Motor project and the Savelsbos Maastricht. The list of localities includes the Wadden Sea area, the dune area in Brabant and the Maasvlakte.
ZandGlas is a powerful expression of the thoroughness of the research carried out by AtelierNL. The approach adopted by the designers makes local prospecting relevant at national and international level and they also focus attention on urgent problems associated with our reserves of natural resources and production methods. This prolonged research into the use of materials is exemplary of AtelierNL’s way of working. Consequently, the committee not only recognises the company’s ZandGlas research through this nomination, but also shows its appreciation for the long and hard road these designers have had to travel in order to put local prospecting for materials on the map as a design and production method.
Atelier NL is renowned for its impassioned and exhaustive research methodology that explores alternative raw materials, and for its hands-on mentality. The jury applauds Sterk and Van Ryswyck for their thorough and time-intensive endeavours in spotlighting attention on research into local materials, and design and production methods. The panel encourages them to involve scientific institutions, in addition to exercising skills inherent to the discipline of design. Atelier NL has succeeded in formulating a new solution that may have enormous impact on the conservative glass industry. The glassware’s nostalgic design references both seventeenth century Dutch glass and painting, while at the same time encourages us to re-establish a sense of place: to literally become grounded. The resulting design is distinctive, and makes the underlying research readily visible to a broad general public.