November 18, 2015

Simon Pearce: An American Glassware, Tableware, Lighting, and Home Decor Company!

Read all about the Quechee, Vermont-based glass-blowing and home decor company Simon Pearce, and then enjoy a Q&A with James Murray, the VP of Product Development for the brand.

by New York Spaces


Simon Pearce

In 1971 Simon Pearce opened his first glassblowing workshop in Kilkenny, Ireland. Ten years later, Pearce moved his business to Quechee, Vermont where they continue to operate today amidst the natural beauty of the state. Coming from a long line of artisans, Pearce values the quality of handcrafted design above all else. Each piece is lovingly made and each collection is named after a New England town—highlighting the brand's dedication to American-made products.

In 1983 Simon Pearce expanded to open his eponymous restaurant, also in Quechee. The utterly charming eatery serves seasonal farm-to-table cuisine and overlooks the area's waterfall. Just this last August, Pearce added "The Bar," a contemporary space designed by James Murray, the VP of Product Development for Simon Pearce. The Bar, of course, would not be complete without Simon Pearce stemware and barware, so get ready to sip your libations while enjoying the artisanal barware from the Westport Collection.

The Simon Pearce Restaurant

And just in case you thought Simon Pearce's Irish heritage was not prominently displayed in the collections, Pearce has designed what he has termed the perfect Irish drinking glass—inspired by Pearce's godfather's collection of antique Georgian drinking glasses. The Woodbury Whiskey glass is Pearce's interpretation of the Georgian glasses he loved so much. Although Pearce originally created the Woodbury Whiskey glass to be enjoyed solely by his family, Murray convinced him to add it to the line. And so there we are. Read on for James Murray enlightening Q&A on the fascinating brand below.

Q&A with James Murray

Simon Pearce Cordials

NYS: As the Head of Design/Creative at Simon Pearce, what does your usual day look like?

James Murray: Each day starts with, the design group convening in our studio. We typically have various layers of projects going on simultaneously. So in that sense, constant communication is the key to our success, much like a beehive. Each day is hectic and includes drawing, refining ideas, and meeting with the various departments to keep development on track.

Since glass-blowing is done in the building next to ours, the relationship between the designer and the craftsman is completely integrated

NYS: How did you begin working with Simon Pearce and what do you think makes the company and the collections so unique?

James Murray: I first began working with the Simon Pearce team in 2010. At the time I was working in New York City but I was thinking about moving to Vermont with my wife. I was familiar with Simon Pearce and was always impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of their glass—each piece has a unique character. I decided to give Simon Pearce a call to ask for a job and I was hired shortly thereafter.

NYS: What are you working on now?

Woodbury Whiskey

James Murray: We are now working on the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 product lines. We are expanding and modernizing the existing collections and working on introducing new ones. We are also constantly pursuing the idea of creating product with uses beyond the dining room

NYS: What do you see as the future of Simon Pearce?

James Murray: For over 40 years, Simon Pearce has been designing handcrafted products from the finest materials. With a commitment to these values, there are so many areas to explore.

NYS: How much of the American-made glassware and pottery is handcrafted?

James Murray: All glassware and pottery from Simon Pearce is handmade in America.

NYS: You also offer lighting. What informs the SP lighting designs?

James Murray: Like the rest of our glassware collections, all of our lighting is handcrafted to create modern designs while using time-honored techniques. Simon Pearce offers a wide array of pendant lights, lamps and hurricanes— offering a simple, elegant way to light up a space. Our pendant lights are extremely popular, particularly our new Woodstock Pendant and the new Woodstock Hurricanes.

Lighting by Simon Pearce

NYS: What are items you would recommend for Fall entertaining and why?

James Murray: We have several new Fall items that would elevate your entertaining. Ascutney is our modern interpretation of classic barware. We introduced an Ascutney carafe, a pitcher, and a large vase. We've also been playing with the scale of the Woodbury collection, a favorite silhouette, by adding both extra large and extra small bowls to the product line.

One of the things we love about our entertaining pieces is the variety of ways to use them in your home, from serving your favorite dish to creating a centerpiece on your table.

NYS: We love your Westport Cordial! It looks incredibly simple but very unique. What goes into making a piece like this?

James Murray: This design concept came about by trying to take the proportions of classic design (which also reference Simon's Georgian glass collection), and transforming it into pure simplicity. The result is a very unique and modern cordial.

After sketching it in my notebook, we make CAD drawings. We then create and refine wood molds to form the base and overall shape. We then have the glassblowers try to make the piece.

Woodbury Decanter

NYS: We love mostly everything on your website, but we were immediately drawn to the Woodbury Copper 5-Piece flatware setting. Can you tell us about the finish and what inspired this design?

James Murray: With this design, we wanted to reflect the feeling of a handcrafted item in steel. This complements the crafted nature of what we do with the glassware and dinnerware. The finish showcases a weathered patina that feels timeless and warm. It was inspired by the rustic hardware we encounter throughout the landscape of Vermont.

NYS: What items would you most like to take home with you today?

James Murray: I live in a loft-like space though it is set in a 1960s mid-century home. We have a very large white oak table in our dining room. Subconsciously, I must have created the large Nantucket hurricanes for the table.

It's the perfect blend of a simple cylinder with a hint of something classic. The scale of the piece is great for a table set in an open space.

NYS: Do you create the dyes in house for the Emerald Green/Indigo Blue Napkin and the Ombre Citron Napkin? The colors are fantastic!

James Murray: We mix our own glazes for ceramics, but, we don't mix dyes for napkins. We prepare color palettes for each season, and use that as a guide for what we do with our table linens. We work with other companies get the textiles made.

The Simon Pearce Restaurant is located at 1760 Quechee Main Street, Quechee, Vermont.

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Simon Pearce