The essentials: 20 of the best vases

Emblem of a container devoted to apparent futility, the vase has accompanied humans for thousands of years. Today, it constantly renews itslef thanks to the rapid acceleration of technology, by turning characteristics that are considered unchangeable into a sensitive mirror of time.

The vase is object-container since prehistory, an archetype that all cultures have learned to recognize and make their own, and one of the most familiar objects in our domestic landscape. Once abandoned the function of amphora, over the centuries it has been transformed into a decorative object to be displayed alone in all its iconic appeal, or to be softened with a bunch of fresh flowers.

However, the prejudice of uselessness to which it has often been linked has never managed to interrupt a process of continuous technical and artistic experimentation which, regardless of the materials used – bare or enameled terracotta, porcelain, silver, blown glass – has made the vase the object of a sometimes maniacal virtuosity and obsessive contemplation by collectors and painters. Every season or movement in the history of design has focused on the vase, transforming it into a sensitive barometer to narrate new visions and formal suggestions.

In recent years, the vase has regained a certain importance thanks to the organization of many exhibitions and the interest of many young designers which not only rediscovered its ornamental value, but also experimented with the effects of the most recent technical and technological innovations. As a result, transformed by an artifice that contradicts its very nature, the 21st century vase has taken on unexpected sensory qualities, such as softness, expansion, fluctuation. Again, thanks to new speculative research, the vase has become capable of expressing a real narrative, or even active collaborative relationships not only with its user, but also with other living species. These are perfect occasions to reflect not only on its timelessness, but also on the impossibility to downplay its importance because, in spite of all the changes it has undergone, the vase continues to arouse wonder and desire for contemplation.

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