Mdina Glass - Beauty in the glass

Mdina Glass enjoys a well-earned reputation for innovative design and enduring quality. Hotel Management International talks to Mark Warner, the firm's marketing manager, about the company's Maltese origins and its growing relationship with hoteliers across the Mediterranean littoral.

Could you tell us a little bit about the history of Mdina Glass?

Mark Warner: Mdina Glass was founded in Malta in 1968. At the time, there were no firms on the islands creating handmade, decorative glassware. Raw materials and equipment had to be shipped over and an ex-RAF hanger on the disused Ta'Qali airfield was turned into the firm's base, where we're still headquartered.

A local workforce had to be trained from scratch and, as the company grew, experienced glassmakers were brought in from the UK. One of the first Maltese trainees, Joseph Said, bought the company from one of its co-founders, Eric Dobson, in 1985. Mdina Glass has thrived as a family-run business ever since.

In what ways can quality glassware enhance a hotel stay?

When they stay at a hotel, guests love to be surrounded by beautiful things and comfort, and coloured glass as a material has a wonderful quality to it that makes it come alive in daylight or through ambient lighting. The way in which a hotel is presented throughout, from those first impressions to be had when entering the lobby to the way a relaxing area with sofas and subdued lighting is accessorised, all speak volumes about the hotel's intentions in making the stay an enjoyable and memorable experience.

Glass is also a very versatile material through the use of various production techniques. This makes it very possible to create custom-made items for clients, be it through glass sculptures, a bespoke range of vases and bowls, candleholders for a restaurant or bar, and lighting products from table lamps to chandeliers.

Why should hoteliers choose Mdina Glass for their glassware, instead of your competitors in the marketplace?

Mdina Glass is an innovator when it comes to glassware. Our portfolio of standard production glassware demonstrates this. At the same time, we are very keen to work on new ideas that a client might have for a custom-made project.

Moreover, our production methods use a team approach. This means that various stages of creating a single piece (from the first gathering of glass, application of colour, initial shaping and then finishing) are done by a different craftsman. This makes us efficient, which, in turn, has a cost benefit for the end client.

How do you envision your relationship with the hospitality industry evolving over the next few years?

We make handmade glass, so we're more about quality over quantity. That's not to say we cannot take on large orders when it comes to producing handmade glass for hotels that want decor running through their premises that has a consistent look or theme. At Mdina Glass, we also see our lighting products as a very interesting prospect with plenty of potential, either as mood lighting with table lamps, a statement piece like one of our chandeliers in a lobby or a special installation piece covering a ceiling in a sea of colourful glass balls.

Can you give any examples of such installations you have created in the past?

We created a 7m Christmas tree from around 2,000 glass baubles that has become an annual attraction in Malta's capital city of Valletta and has been included in international media. We were also commissioned to create a smaller version for a building's lobby area. One of our glass Christmas trees would certainly be fitting in a hotel lobby, greeting guests with Christmas cheer as they arrive to check themselves in. In the past, we've also created other diverse pieces, including a water feature made of spiralling glass, and contributed to window display installations at Harrods in London and the Sachs department store in New York City.

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The Ribbons chandelier by Mdina Glass gracing a corporate lobby.
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