Object of desire In Vienna last week I fell in love, it happened in the split second when I picked up a glass of water to drink.
In Vienna last week I fell in love. Leaving aside the countless great attributes of that beautiful city, it happened in the split second when I picked up a glass of water to drink. I was in the boutique of Augarten, the celebrated porcelain manufacturer, where a carafe of water and tray of glasses are set up for shoppers (how civilised) and already surrounded by beautiful and delicate things. But the glass - It was like nothing else.
Almost ethereal in its lightness, it was given weight only by the water it held. The curve of its base fitted perfectly into my palm; its smoothness that of the finest, most highly polished marble pebble. Its extremely fine rim - only a millimetre thick, I think - turned the simple gesture of sipping water into an act of pure pleasure. This, surely, is the essence of beauty. A short walk to the shop of its maker, the 186-year-old family-owned crystal manufacturer Lobmeyr, revealed more: a choice of four soft, barely-there colours and a deep garnet red - all with a matching pitcher of equally pure-lined form.
It's hard to believe that this ultra-modern looking collection, called Alpha, is more than half a century old: it was designed in 1952 by Hans Harald Rath, a Lobmeyr family member. Equally surprising, since nothing bears the apparent "flaws" so characteristic of craftsman-made things, is that every piece is mouth-blown. (The secret of their perfection being that they are blown into a mould.) And, perhaps most amazing, given how fine they are: you can stack them - indeed, they were displayed in stacks of three and four on the shelves. That is due to the quality and strength of the "muslin" glass from which they are made. Delicate and strong. And perfect.
Alpha water tumbler approx US$74 (Dh272) and pitcher $174 from J&L Lobmeyr, Kärntnerstrasse 26, Vienna; www.lobmeyr.at