This Autumn, at London’s Decorex International, British designer Jo Downs unveiled brand new work at the cutting edge of contemporary glass design, exhibiting spectacular pieces from her bespoke interior and architectural fused-glass business. For twenty years now, her reputation as one of the UKs leading designer-makers has positioned her at the forefront of interior fine-art glass, winning her commissions from international hotels, corporate headquarters, and private homes around the world, and she continues to work on a growing portfolio of large scale interior commissions.
Centre stage at Decorex was an exhibition of Jo’s unique new concept chandeliers. Designed and launched as part of her new business venture, Jo Downs Architectural Glass, these works mark the beginning of a creative partnership between Jo and design company Northern Lights, who have been creating inspiring lighting solutions for the hospitality and retail sectors since 1987. Launched initially at London’s 100% Design exhibition in 2016, followed by Grand Designs Live at the NEC, they received a wealth of attention from industry leaders and design firms. “The chandelier concept has been in development in my studio for several years now” says Jo, “and we launched it only when the process had been perfected. These works are created from hundreds of individual pieces, so it’s pretty intensive work requiring multiple firings and incredibly detailed finishing.” This attention to detail, combined with her unrivalled knowledge of the glass-fusing process, and investment in some of the largest industrial kilns available, has made Jo the leading specialist in her field. “We have built on that specialism with the launch of Jo Downs Architectural Glass” she explains, “a dedicated service designed to work with interior designers and their clients, offering them the chance to incorporate bespoke glass artwork, windows, walls and ceilings into their designs. My small team and I have the skills and facilities to create just about anything - there’s not a private commission, no matter how challenging, that I’ve had to say no to so far. People come to me with some really big ideas – outdoor murals, room sized partitions, three storey windows, back-lit glass ceilings – and between us we find the balance between what they want and what’s possible in fused glass.” Commissioning artwork like this represents, for many, a personal statement, or expression of corporate ideals, and accordingly, Jo understands that each commission requires a tailored design focus. “It’s crucial that a piece of work reflects the feel of its final space. I make site visits and look carefully at the interior we are working with. I spend time with my client discussing ideas before creating a series of sketches and samples for them to consider. Every commission is different” she says, “but all of them, large or small, are a wonderful challenge. Commissions really are my passion, and it’s a totally fulfilling experience for me to see a project through, from my very first drawing to the final installation.”