Contemporary Glass Design with a Pop Culture Spin: “Small Tales” by Leo De Carlo

Born and raised on an island world-famous for its glass design, Venice, the designer Leo De Carlo has made it his mission to not only keep the tradition of Venetian glass art alive, but also to reinvent it through a pop culture twist. Through the method of mirror engraving and his avid, creative universe, he manages to “offer a playful, at times, disturbing vision of the contemporary world”, according to the artist himself.

In the “Small Tales” collection, De Carlo marries imagery of Star Wars with cartoonish swords and typical Italian symbols, such as the Bialetti coffee maker, with the overarching theme being his desire to articulate a certain period of his life in an autobiographic way.

Consisting of the “Pink Story” and “Pop Story” consoles as well as the “Past Green Story” side table, the “Small Tales” series proposes the idea to think about one’s life through memories materialized in artistic, handmade furniture. De Carlo distils moments in his past and the thoughts that accompany him every day into a visual narrative through symbolic elements and realized through the skilful craftsmanship of Venetian workshops. “Each piece of the ‘Small Tales’ collection narrates a period of my life,” the Italian designer explains. “It is possible to transform the flow of thoughts that accompanies everyday life into material, freezing them and making them tangible in this work with a pop vein, my poetic code”

When asked about the values that guide his work, such as the “Small Tales” series, De Carlo emphasizes a desire to support the craftspeople of Venice. “I think a lot [about] how craft skills will be lost relatively quickly. […] It has always happened. What I want, however, is to leave a testimony to the skills that risk getting lost through my work, “ De Carlo points out. A fundamental element of his practice is the relationship he has fostered with local, like-minded artisanal workshops that also express a similar interest as him in using their craft in unexpected and unique ways.

Visit Leo De Carlo’s showroom for more of his handcrafted design objects

“I am trying to create physical evidence of endangered craft skills.”

– Leo De Carlo

Shop the “Pop Story” Console

Unabashedly maximalist and unafraid to push the boundaries of traditional craft techniques, the design objects by De Carlo, particularly the bold and colourful “Small Tales” collection, showcase the artist’s unique visual language. His so-called “pop vein” is the visible leitmotif throughout all his endeavours, which opens a window into his life and craft, thereby, innovating contemporary glass design.

“>Discover Leo De Carlo’s “Small Tales” series and his wider oeuvre through ADORNO’s curated selection of his work. Visit De Carlo’s showroom and explore his pop culture-influenced crafts >


Leo De Carlo, born in Venice in 1972, graduated in Industrial Design at the Milan Polytechnic. After an experience in the field of goldsmith design, he arrived at Philippe Starck’s studio. In Paris, he became fascinated by designs capable of expressing traditional craftsmanship in a contemporary way. Back in Italy, he started to pursue these expressions by collaborating with companies in which manual skill is a distinguishing element of production. As the son of antique dealers who specialised in Venetian glass art, De Carlo re-elaborates the different craft traditions with which he came into contact through his personal creative universe.

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