Whole volumes could be written about the history of the Royal Glass Factory of La Granja, located in the province of Segovia, and each of its pages would be full of interest. From its foundation in 1727 as a small oven located in a barrack during the reign of Felipe V, going through the fire and subsequent reconstruction in 1770, with Carlos IV settled on the throne, until reaching the emblematic institution in which it has been erected today. It is a fascinating journey through which an accurate map of the history of Spain can be drawn and which can be found wonderfully narrated on the website of the Royal Glass Factory of La Granja. But today we have something even better before us: living history, the woman in charge of all this, the commercial director of such an emblematic institution. She is Carmen Aguirregomezcorta, who has invited us to celebrate with her the 250th anniversary of the Factory. An honor and a privilege that we could hardly pass up.
First of all, the inescapable question in these times: how has the pandemic affected the projects that you had planned for such a special year? “It has been a complicated year, without a doubt, that is why we hope to be able to extend during this 2021 the celebrations that we have not been able to carry out as we would have liked”, says Aguirregomezcorta. “On the other hand, we have detected that glass is an increasingly popular product, so its sale has not been particularly altered. It is a matter of approaching the trends that predominate today, such as environmentalism, remaining faithful to our criteria of quality, excellence and beauty ”.
All the history, nobility and tradition that are bastions of the Royal Glass Factory, can be found during the months of December and January at the ABC Shopping Center, located on Serrano street in Madrid. “It is an emblematic site”, congratulates Aguirregomezcorta. “We have wanted to bring the store closer to Madrid, to this privileged area that also allows us to scrupulously comply with all the sanitary measures that are required in recent times”. From here we launch an invitation to all Madrilenians and non-Madrilenians who have the opportunity to get closer, because the place well deserves it. And it is that not every day you can visit a foundation declared in 1989 as an asset of cultural interest.
The responsibility of being the oldest glass blowing institution in the country must be heavy. “The glass blowing industry dates back to before Christ. We are the only ones who have been able to continue with this technique together with another factory, Gordiola, which is located in Mallorca. It is a great responsibility, of course, but also a huge privilege. Not only make this product, but also continue to train people in this technique to prevent it from disappearing ”. Should we worry about the survival of this ancient technique? Carmen Aguirregomezcorta is clear: “As long as we continue to train future generations to give continuity to this tradition, we have nothing to worry about. But it is important to find the replacement, to foster interest among young people and to make them see that this tradition is very much alive and has a huge future ”.
The products they manufacture have always stood out for their quality, for that characteristic shine and, above all, for the craftsmanship that permeates the entire process. A craft that, by the way, is not at all at odds with modernity. Carmen is grateful that you emphasize this: “Craftsmanship and modernity are perfectly compatible. What craftsmanship is at odds with is industrial manufacturing, but not with modernization. We effusively proclaim innovation and design. What’s more, we have a project that will consist of opening a laboratory within the Factory where we can develop the concept of modern and quality craftsmanship. We are always open to collaborations with different artistic branches, such as sculptors or jewelry designers such as Chus Burés, who have produced wonderful pieces ”.
It is precisely these unique collaborations that have helped to spread and establish the good name of the Royal Glass Factory. Fields as varied as sports – “we have been making the trophy for the Cycling Tour of Spain for years and we have also made a trophy for the Segovia Open, we love to collaborate with the world of sport” -, the raffles – “on November 26 we took out some coupons in collaboration with ONCE in which a picture of our factory came, it was a very nice experience that also had a lot of media coverage and sold very well “- or the European Heritage Days -“ are carried out annually coinciding with culture week. This year we have had less assistance due to the pandemic, but in general it consists of a series of activities related to the glass manufacturing sector and in which we welcome groups that come to experience the factory and train in different techniques and treatments. of the glass ”.
In addition to all this, the Museum that houses the Royal Glass Factory has become an unavoidable cultural destination, welcoming nearly forty thousand visitors annually, a truly impressive number that this year, due to the usual circumstances, has been diminished. This has not prevented them from carrying out a series of activities in collaboration with different museums such as the MUSAC (Museum of Contemporary Art of Castilla y León), Museums without Borders or the Loewe Foundation, among others.
Among so many and so diverse activities, what are the star products that remain, those that have already reached the status of immortality? “The one that everyone relates to us is glassware, it is what most people buy and replace frequently. Many young people come to us saying that their grandparents had the glasses that we sell and they want one just the same. The Master Cup is a classic for institutional gifts, which is what the Master of Furnaces has to do to obtain the title of him. The lamps, of course, with which we have recently made a beautiful Christmas tree. We are lucky to have a wide catalog of timeless products ”.
This 2021 we will toast with their drinks. The same ones in which Isabel Farnesio, that Italian aristocrat who became queen consort of Spain, liked to serve the wine that she had brought from Parma. We will toast to a year that will be new and better and will come loaded with hope. We will toast to tradition and modernity, two concepts more friendly than people think. And we will toast Carmen, the Royal Factory, the History that is reflected in the glass that hides behind the brilliance of a legacy that is ours and is eternal.
Text: Alex Merino Aspiazu
You can see the full interview here