South Africa is a place I know well and love, with hot sun beating down on the rich colours and cosmopolitan vibrancy of the southern Cape. Cape Town was my focus and base whilst travelling around researching glass and being inspired by the magnificent scenery of Majestic Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. South Africa. These influences can be seen in the glass designs in our portfolio.
After a number of years of travelling around the USA and venturing into India, Ingrid was concerned that she needed to venture further in the quest for new inspiration. Ingrid embarked on a glass field study to Brazil, South America. Based in Sao Paulo, researching glass manufacture and techniques in this area as part of an Export Marketing Research Scheme run in partnership with Department for International Trade. Ingrid travelled to Iguassu Falls, on the boarder of Argentina, Paraguai & Brazil, which was most inspiring for my own glass designs which will have water elements and falls included in their surfaces. Ingrid also undertook a short trip to Rio to see ‘Christ the Redeemer’ and ‘Sugar loaf mountain’.
In the past twenty five years I have been very lucky to find myself travelling extensively for work and pleasure. I seem to be drawn to mountain ranges around the world; from the Himalaya to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. The magnificent scenery of the ice white frozen lakes and waterfalls in the winter and the soft powder snow and glaciers in -30°C conditions, managing to fit in a little snow mobiling, ice fishing and dog-sledding along the way, as glass research. Ice reminds me of glass. It is so opposite in many ways, but glass-like quality it beholds and the way you can carve and grind it like glass.
India is one of our largest markets. We work mainly with The British High Commission and private high net-worth individuals to create unique pieces of glass for awards, public art and for private collections of one-off designs and sculptures.
There is such a wealth of colour and experiences to be had in India and the buzz of the place brushes off to influence glass designs by Ingrid Pears.
PROJECT INDIA - statement by Ingrid Pears Glass Designer/Maker
It was back in 2006 where my 'India experience' began. In 2006 I was offered the opportunity to take part in a V.I.P. - UKTI Trade Mission to Mumbai. I went specifically in search of a new market. I was told before going out there, that it was a hard market to get into, especially for a creative industries and that I would not come back with any orders on my first visit, but instead, I went home with many! I got a taste of Indian culture and loved the experience so much so, that I decided to concentrate over the next few years on creating export opportunities to go back to India which is where my true ‘project India’ really began in 2008.
Whilst in Mumbai on business, I was invited by Vicki tradell - The British High Commissioner, to a reception evening. Where I met a Bollywood film Director, which set the ball rolling, in terms of my business success in India. I was invited to create some prestigious awards for ‘Bollywood’. This was my first lucky break in India. People seemed to be excitedly interested in my unique glass pieces which I create at my studio in Thoresby Park, Nottinghamshire, U.K. I developed a number of special business relationships, which have grown stronger over the years and allowed me to have a continued presence in India, even when I am at home in the U.K. I have
In 2008 my mission was to find a market for my design led glass amongst high end individuals in order to increase my turnover and up my design profile, as well inspire my work and feed my soul.
I started creating one-off designs inspired by travelling around the world making glass in the various locations, showing the richness of colour and fluid shapes to represent the culture, people and vistas. I spent twenty four months designing, researching and experimenting and secured a commission in Mumbai working with His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, The Duke of York. I was selected to take part in V.I.P. networking receptions aboard the HMS Kent in the port of Mumbai. After these experiences I felt ready for my own, stand alone export mission ‘Project India 2008’.
I met with many private individuals and businesses in Mumbai and Delhi showing my portfolio of glass. Afterwards I was invited to travel with a British Doctor, Dr John Llewellyn, whom was based in New Delhi at the British High Commission. From the foot hills we went into the Himalayas over rough terrain, in a Diplomatic 4 X 4 vehicle, along the river Ganges, past many lakes and points of interest. Such as the statue of Shiva on the Varanasi river. Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the “Golden Temple,” dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
On and on, we travelled on long winding roads for sixteen hours at a time. Driving so close to the cliff edges, with nothing below. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. It felt at times like our lives were in the balance. All in search of inspiration and the chance to create that 'special' unique piece of glass. The pilgrim resting place in Silkyara, which was relatively close to Dharamsala (Dalai Lamas village, which became important to me later on that year, when I was commissioned to make a special piece of work for the Dalai Lama and host him. I was chosen by Nottinghamshire County Council to design and make a unique piece of glass for his holiness the Dalai Lama in July 2008).
Himalaya, was going to be a place I would visit many times. I am thankful for this experience and for the knowledge and experience Dr. John gave to me about places and life when travelling. I will be forever grateful for this life experience and for the subsequent journeys I have made to Himalaya.
Environmental sustainability is also a great consideration in my business practice as a glassblower, as the making of glass is a high fuel product and therefore, I feel an obligation to the worlds future to try and lower our carbon footprint. Through my own work I feel environmentally bound to develop furnaces that are sustainable and I like to create fair trade opportunities. Leading to a greener practice, using 40% energy saving furnaces built by myself and our waste glass recycled on, by students at colleges and universities.
Overall ‘Project India’ has not only given me the wings to fly in my own business and grow my soul as an individual, but it has also in a small way put Nottinghamshire in the headlines, as I continue to have high profile visitors from India and all over the world to visit me in my humble studio at Thoresby park, which is also good for local tourism too. It is important to always remember where you came from and give back to the communities that nurtured you and helped you grow.
Singapore continues to welcome Ingrid into a world of immense possibilities, where people, technology and ideas converge together to create great value for her business.
Located at a geographical vantage point, Singapore attracts global businesses and is seamlessly connected to almost every part of the world.
An amalgamation of cultures, robust commerce, leisure and lifestyles, visitors will be enriched by the vibrant exchange of knowledge in this fertile business ecosystem.
Being at the right place at the right time can spell success for your business. Ingrid Pears knows this only too well when she was offered the opportunity to promote and sell her glass designs in Singapore by British Airways and UK Trade & Investment. "I constantly look for business opportunities for myself to promote my glass pieces and enrich peoples knowledge of this amazing molten material. I spend many hours per month attending business networking events in the UK and overseas developing links with people and business. I believe word of mouth is the best form of advertising - My customers advertise my work...I let my designs speak for themselves. I have found myself in many 'lucky' positions from creating awards for Bollywood to a piece for His Holiness the Dalai Lama....I believe we all create our own luck and success "
Founded as a British trading colony in 1819, Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963, but withdrew two years later and became independent. It subsequently became one of the world's most prosperous countries, with strong international trading links (its port is one of the world's busiest) and with per capita GDP above that of the leading nations of Western Europe. From the rich vibrant colours of the orchids in the Botantic gardens to the green palm trees that line the roads...Singapore is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that never sleeps. It is going to be one 'Ingrid Pears Hot Glass Studios - Uk' new selling venues.
It is possible for Ingrid and other businesses to expand their networks by connecting with the more than 7,000 multinational companies and gain entry to the fast-growing Asian markets and beyond. And there’s no better time than now. With Singapore’s excellent location and strategic trade links, abundant prospects and opportunities for knowledge exchange are all within reach. Ingrid has spent her time in Singapore and Malaysia creating buinsess opportunities to start selling a range of her unique design led glass pieces for the corporate market for the purpose of awards, giftware and art for the boardrooms. Ingrid is also developing ranges for the private market through galleries, stores and interior designers, all for the purpose of art and decoration.
Singapore possesses incomparable strengths in key industries that include Information and Communication Technology, Electronics and Precision Engineering, Aviation, and Banking and Finance among others. Increased attention has been given by the government to research and development for emerging industries including Digital Media and Environmental Technology. As a result, Singapore paves the way for potentially high growth avenues and opportunities for business. In Ingrid's case there are very few outlets selling glass in Singapore and creates a wealth of opportunity for Ingrid to secure outlets to promote and sell in as this a fast growing area. This includes business and private clients to work with. Glass is a very niche market, however it is an emerging market with glass being seen as very fashionable and a high value art source now.
Article by Ian Halstead for UK INDIA BUSINESS COUNCIL. BUSINESS EXCHANGE MAGAZINE.
Talent allied to tenacity will take you far, but Ingrid’s remarkable journey, from the rural hinterland of Nottinghamshire to the foothills of the Himalayas, has been underpinned by her softer skills.
Mandy Rait, the UKTI international trade officer who ushered Ingrid onto the global business stage, from her hot-glass studio in the East Midlands, recalls her first steps.
“I spent years saying India is a long-term market, where you must spend time on research and identify the right partners, and even then, you can run into red tape and unexpected hurdles. “Then Ingrid goes to Mumbai, to a reception at the British High Commission, and just wows people through her personality".
“It isn’t only about creativity and commitment, Ingrid is a real ’people person’, and everyone buys into her. It was awesome. We fly back, and she’s already won orders, and been invited to make the awards for the Bollywood film industry. ”Whoever she has met out there since - the British High Commissioner, the Duke of York, entrepreneurs, or pilgrims in the Himalayas - she treats them all the same. Everyone just takes to her.
“When we met in 2002, Ingrid didn’t sell overseas, but in 2012, she received the MBE for services to exports, which shows just how far she has come.”
It is a remarkable achievement, although Mandy had an inkling that Ingrid wasn’t one to let opportunities pass. “She signed up for UKTI’s Passport to Export Programme, attended the workshop and listened to everything very diligently. But she also managed to sell her glassware to other people at the event.”
As for Ingrid herself - it’s easy to be impressed, as she recounts her journey from undergraduate studies to a brand ambassador for British business, with a beguiling blend of honesty and passion.
“I wanted to be a dentist, but took a year out, went to art college and was introduced to glassware. When I first saw molten glass, it was like golden syrup and I was absolutely captivated,” she admits.
“I changed my course, and studied 3D design specialising in glass. People might think it’s an art, but there’s a lot of science involved. If you want to make the process work properly, for example, you have to know about the co-efficiencies of expansion.”
A subsequent scholarship from The Frederick Stuart Memorial fund and London’s Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers, followed by successful post-grad research at the International Glass Centre, in the Black Country, underlined the merit of Ingrid’s decision. Her innovative output was noted by Dartington Crystal, who offered a chunky corporate package, which would surely have tempted many. However, Ingrid rejected the offer of a full-time position, but offered to create glassware on commission basis.
“They didn’t usually work that way, but two weeks later, they agreed. I still supply designs, they are all branded as Ingrid Pears by Dartington, so it helps build my own business brand, and I get royalties, which is great because Dartington sell to almost 60 countries,” says Ingrid.
The support of her family was also critical; at the practical, and at the more instinctive and entrepreneurial level. “Dad had always run his own companies, as has my mum, and my brother Andre'. When I was at university, I did my dad’s accounts, so I learnt about accounts and marketing too, I owe a lot to them, especially when I wanted to set up my own studio.
“Dad is an engineer and knew about metal technology. He gave me lots of advice and we all used to sit around the family table thrashing out ideas and plans. They helped me build many pieces of equipment alongside a close friend Stephen (also a glass maker) who was strategic in the design, planning and build stages as we studied postgraduate furnace technology together.
My brother also built special canopies and vents to take away the heat and even my workshop benches were made by my family.”
For the last two decades, Ingrid has been based at Thoresby Park; home to the Pierrepont family for more than four centuries, but which now also houses a range of enterprises, including a hotel, wedding venue, craft workshop and heritage centre.
“I work from the estate’s former coach-house, inside an old courtyard, and it’s great because people can watch their own pieces being created out of the hot furnace. You also get a lot of visitors at the hotel and the park, and I’m very happy there. I signed a twenty year lease to secure my space in order to allow my business time to grow. Each year it has grown, so much so, I have purchased my own flagship building a Medieval Church from the Church of England. I will continue to make the majority of my glass pieces in my Thoresby studio and I will use my church for the very special designs and VIP commissions. The majority of the pieces we make are for private clients, although we do have over fifty galleries world-wide that stock our work,” says Ingrid.
However, her thoughts are often back in India. “I’ve been travelling with a British doctor for over fifteen years in Himalaya, who has a resting-place for pilgrims in
the foothills of the mountains,” says Ingrid. “He’s taken a disused goat shack and brought it back to life as the pilgrim resting place it once was, and in a rich colonial style. This venture inspired and ignited a desire in me to have my own special building in the UK and possibly in India. The idea is to successfully complete the build of a glass-making furnace in the Himalayas, which has been a long term project. The rarified atmosphere is one challenge, but my dad’s created special nymonic burners. “I’d like to be one of the first artists to make glass in Himalaya, we’ll also be training local people in craft skills, and we’re getting sponsored crucibles which have been designed in the USA and sponsorship through The British Council and The British High Commission. It has been rewarding, life-changing and humbling, meeting so many kind people along the way"