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AGlassActAs chief designer for Simon Pearce,
James Murray makes beauty transparent
ames Murray can remember the
heads of s...
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James Murray


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James Murray

  1. 1. AGlassActAs chief designer for Simon Pearce, James Murray makes beauty transparent ames Murray can remember the heads of spatulas and the texture of paper tablecloths on which he sketched in Parisian restaurants, the feel of fabric on a Danish mod- ern chair upon which he sat decades ago, and the width of the tines of a fork while spearing romaine leaves at dinner years earlier. No design detail is too small or inconsequential for Murray, vice president of design for Simon Pearce, the Vermont-based maker of fine glassware and other home and decorative objects. Murray is responsible for developing 150 new products every year and keeping some other 800 extant products relevant and up to date design-wise— from terrariums and soup bowls to hurricane lamps and glass polar bears. The dashing 45-year-old Murray, who lives near the company’s headquarters with his artist wife and two children, can often be found wandering the factory floor as glassblowers are trimming and molding molten orbs and resident potters are busy spinning their wheels. On a more existential level, Murray believes, “we should process everything we come into contact with and be engaged by it. It’s a tough endeavor at times, but if we don’t do it, we’re retracting from living.” He believes, too, that the sundry objects we encounter daily in our lives—glasses, utensils, plates—“somehow shape us. The designed environment influences us and our sensibilities.” Although Murray wanted to be a painter and sculptor while growing up on Long Island, he quickly discerned the importance of industrial design while a student at Pratt Institute. “When I found out that an artist could design things like cars, I thought, ‘That’s the kind of sculp- ture I could pursue.’” In his work as design director for Bed Bath & Beyond, where he developed 1,500 new products every year, and before that as a designer for Macy’s, Murray never lost sight of his painting and sculpting skills. “My life at work is predominantly about aesthet- ics,” he says. “No matter what I may be designing, I’m always trying to provoke what’s possible. The greatest contribu- tion any creative person can make is to leave some fingerprint of oneself.” — David Masello James Murray Woodbury rectangular bowl Woodbury Pure Wrap vase GLENNSUOKKO WATCH! | FEBRUARY 2015 97 FdCW0215_097_MUSE_Murray_V1.indd 97 12/19/14 11:01 AM