Artistic director of Orrefors glassworks, Sweden
Simon Gate (1883 – 1945) was a Swedish artisan and designer. Gate was born in S. Fagelas, Skaraborg, Sweden, the son of a farmer. He was a glassmaker and designer for Orrefors Glass Factory.
He studied at the National College of Art, Craft, and Design in Stockholm in the early twentieth century. From around 1909, at the Royal Swedish Academy Art School, also in Stockholm.
Gate began his long affiliation with the Swedish glassmaking firm Orrefors in 1916. He worked as an artistic director and built the firm foundation for Sweden’s substantial modern glass industry alongside Edvard Hald, Vicke Lindstrand, Knut Bergqvist, and others.
Gate designed a wide range of utilitarian and decorative glass during his three decades at Orrefors, including delicate goblets in soft hues (these and other functional wares were often made at Orrefors’ Sandvik subsidiary). The plain, heavy-walled vases and bowls; and handsome exhibition pieces are crisply engraved with art deco style neo-classical figures. The “Slottsglas” Footed Bowl (1918) typifies these elegant pieces characterised by subtle delicacy in form and colour. The Orrefors wine glass (1920) was a tall faceted stem. The bowl was cased in green glass cut with flutes. The stem is faceted to a hexagonal section with a twist in the orientation of the planes halfway down.
The sophisticated Graal technique was invented around 1920 by Gate, Hald, and master glassblower Knut Bergqvist (the term is related to the “Holy Grail” and relates to its elusive properties). Graal art glass was created by encasing a thick transparent glass core with a thin-coloured coating that was then cut away to reveal a design surrounded by the clear “background.” The vessel was heated again to give it a smoother, more “liquid” appearance, following which it was encased in yet another layer of clear glass and blown into its final shape. Internal ornamentation of flowers or human figures was typical on these Graal sculptures, which were often multicoloured.
Gate won a Grand Prix at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. His designs are in the collections of major museums.
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