Magic, Glass And Life Sculpted: Sublime Jewelry For The Door
by Lisa Van Eyssen, Contributing Editor
When I first heard that my friend and designer Stacie Isabella Turk was taking a weekend glass blowing workshop, I thought (as you do,) ‘Oh good for her.’ Kind of the way you might react to a friend who enjoys delicious meals and decides to fly to Italy for an expensive cooking class. ‘How nice for them,’ you think with a slight smirk, ‘they’ll come home with a few pointers, pricey kitchen utensils and some nice travel snaps.
Rarely, however, do you know someone who takes a two-day workshop and then, armed with a life long passion for glass, turns it into a serious retail business. But that is exactly what happened. Turk’s fascination with the endless possibilities of glass have led her to create some of the most beautiful and singular objects for doors and cabinets. Each knob melds hand-made artistry with sophisticated design, resulting in one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces. Their function and beauty works together to literally open doors and our perceptions of how certain substances can be reinvented in our imagination.
Zietta Clara translates directly from the Italian into ‘Auntie Clara,‘ inspired by a beloved character on the popular 1960s television show, Bewitched. Aunt Clara, bumbling and charming, unable to cast her spells without unleashing total chaos, was never without her large tapestry bag of doorknobs, objects that allowed her to travel in and out of various dimensional doorways. It is plunged within this whimsical connection of nostalgia, magic and sheer inventiveness that Zietta Clara was born.
Over ten years ago, Zietta Clara launched its first collection of doorknobs called ORIGINALE. Rich jewel tones of wine, dark chocolate and olive green define this initial collection. Their shapes are organic, easily found in everyday life; an egg shape, a softened rectangle, spheres…some with sandblasting some with bevels. Focusing on moments, such as tortoise-shell sunglasses poised on a car dash or the way cream looks as it drops into coffee, Turk is inspired by flashes, colors, and reflections... then miraculously encapsulates them in glass. The ideas for the line came on day one of the glass blowing workshop, when she got a chance to make a solid paperweight. Once completed, she was staring at what looked like doorknobs and suddenly, Turk knew what she wanted to do.
The next two years were a whirlwind of research, prototypes, designing, and more prototypes. After much D/R, and multiple glass artists, Turk found someone who was a hybrid, a glass artist educated as an engineer, who owned his own glass studio. Soon after, ZC acquired a much needed business partner and the company was off and running.
By the time the ORIGINALE collection was ready to launch, the landscape had changed considerably. During the 2005 December opening month, the LoPresti Architectural Elements showroom introduced the ZC hardware line at Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, Western Interiors Magazine published the first of three pieces on the glass knobs, ZC received their first order, and oh, the business partner quit. Never to be deterred, Turk carried on the business solo, expanding her collection during the launch month to include cabinet knob versions of the collection and just like that, those first 56 cabinet knobs and 30 doorknobs were delivered to their new home in Rhode Island. (I helped her pack them myself!)
Turk spends much of her design time innovating, growing and showing the Zietta Clara collections. Newer lines include; ICE, a mix of cool mint, crème and mushroom colors, lots of clear glass incorporated into its 12 designs, and all housed in various versions of squares, cubes, and ‘Soap Bar’ ovals. The kiln cast collection going by the name of PEBBLE, fills out the industrial color pallet of charcoal grey, and stark white, and distinguishes itself with only five geometrically shaped designs.
Designers who choose the Zietta Clara collections will find they are working with a ‘living product’, one that is malleable to their design needs and custom made to order. One Carmel (California) designer/client found that the original size of the Rectangle pull from the standard PEBBLE collection just wasn’t large enough for her newly installed custom interior doors. Turk accommodated the request and the result is a stunning 12x4” charcoal Rectangle pull commanding the eye and juxtaposing the natural deep wood upon which it rests.
Each design can be modified for a specific project. The Egg knob ORIGINALE now has a towel hook version, and the Hot Square ICE can be sculpted to double its original size, transforming a cabinet door into a floating canvas for glass. Elegance and innovation in the Zietta Clara product means it is not just a high-end custom luxury brand, but also a company that makes accessible down-to-earth home-ware.
Even as ZC trades on its very original product, Turk has kept attuned to the need for parts that work with standard doors and cabinets. The hand-sculpted glass knobs, bronze rosettes, and sleeves are modular, allowing designers and customers to collaborate with Turk on finding the myriad of interchangeable options in hardware and plating offered by ZC. The pieces are so well engineered that when your hand contacts the knob, you never feel the metal hardware, but instead an entire piece of smooth glass resting comfortably in your hand.
Zietta Clara’s inimitable products have, since their inception, stood apart from every other glass knob collection. Magazines like Architectural Digest, LUXE, World of Interiors and SPACE, have regularly run press on each new collection over the years. The future for Zietta Clara is bright, reflecting even more contemporary styles, with flashes of whimsy and good old fashion artistry, offering gems for every type of customer and just a little dash of magic.