DMTV Milkshake: On the Magic of Glass With “Artisan Manufacturer” John Pomp

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John Pomp identifies himself as an “artisan manufacturer,” and for Pomp, the seemingly oxymoronic description just makes sense. Pomp was a fine art student at the Columbus College of Art & Design when a trusted instructor suggested a glass blowing course: “I didn’t really know what it meant, but I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll try it,’” Pomp says. “He mentioned that it would make a lot of sense to me.” And indeed – for Pomp, the experience was revelatory. “In the first minutes of touching molten glass, I fell in love with it, and I knew that it was what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” he adds. “It felt like all of my favorite things, at that time in my life, when I was 20 years old – it felt like it combined skateboarding and action painting. It was both of those things, rolled up in one. It was just magic.”

Now, Pomp runs a facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that earns him the rare distinction of an artisan who’s also a manufacturer, all while employing 50 fellow craftsmen to create his sculptural lighting and furniture pieces – like chandeliers made from “puddles” of rippled-glass crystal and cocktail tables made of hand-poured glass on a sculptural metal base. Pomp came to Philadelphia after first establishing himself in Brooklyn, New York. “I really wanted to expand my studio – more space, more creativity, room for more tools, just more blank space,” says Pomp, who already knew the city having taught at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University. “Philadelphia has an amazing arts and crafts community – it’s very vibrant.”

That’s not to say it was always easy. Pomp bought his building during the global economic catastrophes of 2008. “It was a really rough time,” he says. “But I have very fond memories of me and my wife moving all of our glass blowing equipment and everything from Brooklyn back here to Philadelphia. We set up the glass shop and didn’t really have anywhere to live – we lived in the studio and slept on the floor for about a year. We didn’t even have a kitchen because I was still building out an apartment for us – and so I bought a barbecue grill at Home Depot and I put it in the glass shop, which has really good ventilation – and that was our kitchen for a year and a half. That was one of my most humbling moments, but also one of my proudest.” For more, tune in!

Diana Ostrom, who has written for Wallpaper, Interior Design, ID, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets, is also the author of Faraway Places, a newsletter about travel.

Milkshake, DMTV (Design Milk TV)’s first regular series, shakes up the traditional interview format by asking designers, creatives, educators and industry professionals to select interview questions at random from their favorite bowl or vessel. During their candid discussions, you’ll not only gain a peek into their personal homeware collections, but also valuable insights into their work, life and passions.

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