Talent, tenacity and twenty years of experience have put designer Jo Downs at the forefront of bespoke fused glass design.
Few contemporary craft makers have ventured into the rarefied field of fused glass on the sort of scale that Jo Downs has been able to achieve. In a design area such as this, talent must be teamed with technical knowledge and a significant investment in studio space and equipment, including super-heated glass-fusing kilns large enough to accommodate six square metres per firing of exquisitely crafted, hand cut glass.
At her studio in the rural setting of North Cornwall, where she lives and works, Jo cuts a slight figure amongst the vast layout tables and flatbed kilns that facilitate her work. Hers is the life of a designer-maker – sketching, experimenting, testing and creating spectacularly beautiful bespoke works for private and commercial clients, as well as her seven handmade glass galleries.
Having recently celebrated her twentieth year in glass design, she has an enviable client list and has seen through some impressive projects: two astonishing eleven metre glass ceilings on the cruise ships Arcadia and Ventura have been admired by many thousands of people since their installation in 2005; an amazing contemporary backlit glass desk continues to welcome visitors to offices at Westminster Tower in London; the private home of world famous soul and jazz singer Joss Stone boasts several bespoke Jo Downs windows, as does the luxury Flying Boat Club restaurant, spa rooms and swimming pool on the Isles of Scilly. She has also completed stunning public commissions for the Matisse exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London and installations for a string of international head offices including Microgaming Software Systems, British Borneo Oil and Gas and pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. Right now, she is beginning work on a commission for University College London Hospital, creating glass wall panels to enhance the educational space and inspire the patients and students, as well as working on private commissions attracted by the launch of her stunning new fused glass chandelier designs which she showcased at London’s 100% Design exhibition in 2016.
Since graduating with a BA Hons in Glass and Ceramic Design from Sunderland University and setting up her first glass fusing studio in London in 1996, Jo has truly become a specialist in her field. Through the bespoke side of her business, Jo Downs Architectural Glass, she works one to one with interior designers and private and commercial clients, creating original artworks for both interior and exterior spaces. With her dedicated architectural team, which includes specialist glass workers and a full-time project manager, and her wealth of design experience and investment in some of the largest kilns available, she can create “just about anything. There’s not a private commission, no matter how challenging, that I’ve had to say no to. People come to me with some really big ideas – outdoor murals, swimming pool floors, three storey windows – or more simply they want beautiful wall panels or fine art installations to enhance their home or working space. I think clients, like all of us, want to express something of their own identity through their design choices. The space a business occupies, for example, should reflect the identity and aspirations of that business. A public venue needs to create an environment that speaks to and inspires its guests. A family home should express the character of the family that live there, and reflect the cultural interests or the aspirations of the people who created that home. Commissioned works are really a reflection of the client, and it’s my job to create work which they feel strongly connected to. There a huge commitment in terms of time and energy with private commissions, but each project is all the more rewarding for that. It’s a totally fulfilling experience for me to see a project through from my very first drawing to the final installation.”
For further information on Jo Downs Architectural Glass contact email@example.com or see architecture.jodowns.com.
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