Brand Innovator Twenty Centuries Ago

According to Christopher Lightfoot, the curator of Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Karol Wight, the internationally renowned scholar of Roman Art, curator of ancient and Islamic glass and executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass, and contributions by others, the invention of glassblowing in the late first century B.C. was one of the most significant technological advances in the ancient world.

These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who “signed” the molds.

Two-handed cup signed by Ennion, blown in a four-part mold, 1st half century. A.D. Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36. Photo by The Corning Museum of Glass

What does glass molding and glass blowing have to do with today’s technological innovations, branding and creativity?

What if you could trace your professional lineage to a glass producer who lived twenty centuries ago? Do we 21st century strategists define, design and market premier brands any differently than an innovative master who lived two thousand years ago?

Lightfoot and Wight answer these questions with the grouping of the most innovative and elegant known examples signed by their maker, Ennion, the producer of the finest ancient Roman mold-blown glass. The name, Ennion, is featured prominently in the early literature on ancient glass, and his products were quickly recognizable. His rare, surviving glass mold-blown vessels are unmatched in the history of art, technology, design and branding.

I was extremely pleased to view The Metropolitan Museum’s marvelous exhibition of Ennion’s exceptional accomplishments.

Lightfoot explains that Ennion was quite groundbreaking. Ennion perfected the use of molds for blowing glass and making multiples copies of the glass. His work is remembered not just because he put his name in the molds, which allows us to identify his pieces, but because of the technological invention and the authentic design differentiation from all other Roman mold-blown glass.

Cup. Close-up Signature. Ennion, Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36.
The Corning Museum of Glass

Ennion knew the value of what we 21st century marketers think of as a “brand name”. He was the first glass artist to sign his works, incorporating into his designs a prominent inscription in Greek that reads: “Ennion Made [It].” He did not just sign his pieces, and he made his name a part of the work much as we experience a famous label.

Ennion, the first century glass mold-blown innovator provides a link between the ancient and the modern worlds of technology, art and branding thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Corning Museum of Glass. ENNION: MASTER OF ROMAN GLASS is must-see exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass for modern day business, technology and branding innovators.

Shlomo Moussaieff Collection

ENNION: Master of Roman Glass,
The Corning Museum of Glass
Opens on May 16th and runs through January 4, 2016.

ENNION: Master of Roman Glass
Largest Ever Exhibition of Mold-Blown Glass from Ancient Rome
The First Brand Manager was a 1st Century Roman Glassblower
Alain R. Truong

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