Craftsmanship in motion: Esque Studio
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” It is with this sentiment that we are featuring this series of profiles in craftsmanship. Photo essays of passion, dedication, sweat, and an obsession with detail. In the same manner we approach shoemaking, these talented creators and makers are proving that design can be simultaneously timeless AND original.
Glassblowing is a unique art form—but it wasn’t Andi Kovel’s first love. “I have a degree in sculpture and museum education,” she says. “I was at NYU, and saw that Parsons was offering a glassblowing class, and thought it would be an interesting material for my toolbox.”
It turned out she had a knack for it. She was offered an apprenticeship—a good, steady job for an art student. “It was just a job at first,” she says. “I wasn’t drawn to glass as a medium.” But as she learned about the art form as a whole, Andi realized that glassblowing had some solid boundaries that hadn’t been tested, pushed, or even considered.
I became interested in what glass as material could do. It wants to be round, wrinkled, or stretched. I wanted to catch material in mid process and stop it at a point that is really interesting. And people told me I couldn’t do that, and when I asked ‘why,’ I was told, ‘That’s not what you do.
Esque, a glass studio producing modern, minimal, functional glasswork, was born out of that conundrum. She and her studio/business partner—glassblowing is a partner art—were interested in making their own designs versus adhering to existing techniques and patterns.
“For me, innovation becomes a philosophical viewpoint,” she explains. “It’s really important to take your art further, and to reflect the time you’re living in. That makes it relevant and important.”
Andi would call herself a designer before she calls herself an artist or craftsperson. “I put so much attention into details, angles, sizes, colors, and techniques.” The extensive planning leads to a signature style for Esque Studio: the absence of human hand.
The thickness of glass, the lack of flaws in the glass. There’s ways you can make the glass less tortured, or tooled—so that it looks like the glass is making itself. And sometimes the design element is that you can see the tool work; and sometimes you can’t get away from the tool mark. But when the piece looks like it was made with ease? That’s elegance.”
That said, Andi appreciates the appearance of quality in something like a KEEN shoe, where workmanship is apparent through something like a stitched detail. “The knowledge that the shoe has been touched by a human hand; I appreciate that.”