Client: The Inn at Harbor Shores
Location: St. Joseph, MI, United States
Completion date: 2014
Artwork budget: $45,000
The Inn at Harbor Shores
Susan Wlczak Art Consulting
Studio North Architectural Design
El Sol Lighting
The Inn at Harbor Shores sits along the shore of Lake Michigan and is inspired by the classic coastal architecture of 19th and 20th-century lakeside cottages. Michael Wood, the owner of The Inn, commissioned April Wagner to create a work of art to act as a focal point in the inn’s lobby and add a ‘wow’ factor to the space. “L’eau de Vie” is a hanging sculptural work made of hundreds of hand-blown glass bubbles and waves, inspired by the colors and movements of the nearby great lake.
"L'eau de Vie" is a custom, site-specific sculpture and hangs from the second story of the inn's lobby. Wood required that the sculpture be a safe distance from patrons' grasp and that the artwork capture the feeling of water. Additionally, Wood requested that the sculpture be mindful of the overall style of the hotel as a gathering place for upscale and casual occasions with a respectful nod to the past history of the region. Measuring 8' W x 12' H, the sculpture hearkens back to the grand and elegant chandeliers that might grace the entryway of a traditional inn but use contemporary design aesthetics to add a sense of wonder and excitement. "L'eau de Vie" complements the building's classic interior, as well as converses with the inn's location on the shore of Lake Michigan.
April worked with the clients to conceptualize the qualities of water - brilliance and motion. The sculpture includes over 300 'waves' or pieces of blown, hand-sculpted glass, and approximately 150 blown glass bubbles. Using primarily blues, opals, and transparent aqua hues with touches of violet, yellow, and seafoam greens, April created a palette that complemented the inn's waterside location. The bubbles and waves were hung on stainless steel cables and each was held in place by a collar stop at various heights. El Sol Lighting designed a custom round stainless steel ceiling plate embedded with LED lights from which the cables were hung. Because the cables varied in length, the overall form of the sculpture tapered toward the bottom. The result is a mass of glittering glass that seems to twist in a spiral shape. The combination of glass waves and bubbles suspended together creates the energy of water surging and breaking on the shore.