Visitors to the little Rotter Glas factory are immediately aware that something very special is being created here. The company represents the philosophy of open manufacture. The visitor gets to see not only the impressive showroom, but also has an opportunity to see the engravers at work, look over their shoulders and to experience how glass art is created first-hand.
Artistry and experience
“Our glass engravers are not only among the best at their craft and know how to transform drinking glasses into fine art objects. They also bring their own creative skills and always come up with new variants that turn a glass into a visual and haptic experience,” said Birgit Rotter, owner of Rotter Glas, adding, “Until a glass engraver really masters his craft, he attends a course at the only specialized training centre in Germany and gains at least seven years of experience. Only then does he have the necessary craftsmanship and experience for our products.”
Rotter stayed in Lübeck thanks to delayed train
Carl Rotter, who came to Lübeck in 1948, founded the company. His father ran a glass grinding shop in Silesia with at least 40 skilled workers. His son, Carl, developed artistic aspirations at a young age and proved to be a technical inventor. Among his inventions was a method for grinding spherical structures very deep into the glass. This ball drilling process was patented in 1929.
Rotter and his family had originally been en route to the Bavarian Forest, which is still considered the centre of the German glass industry. But after failing twice to get a train in Lübeck, the artist decided to stay in the old Hanseatic city of Lübeck and set up the factory that still exists today.
There, he was finally able to realize the design ideas which had met with so little interest in his father’s business. Carl made his grinding process a trademark and quickly became widely known for his “ball cup”. This extraordinary drinking glass felt extremely comfortable and was hailed for its special, kaleidoscopic effect.
Glasses with artistic aspirations
Rotter Glas is now in its fifth generation of family ownership and the company considers itself a manufactory. It is a place where everyday, artistic objects made of glass are created. Distribution in Germany occurs through select, specialist shops for upscale residential needs. Rotter also supplies sophisticated, specialist dealers in several European countries and ships its products all the way to China, Japan, Singapore and the United States.
Rotter’s cup is still available today. Yet the showroom in Lübeck shows that the founder’s legacy has long since given rise to a wide range of different glasses that shimmer in many different colours. Rotter has also developed additional business fields and now uses three different technologies for glass finishing: engraving, grinding and sandblasting.
Group tours of manufactory
“Every single one of our glasses is hand-crafted,” says Kathleen Löbe, describing what sets the company apart from less sophisticated finishing processes. The latter focus mainly on cost-effective, chemical processes. Löbe is responsible for sales at Rotter Glas and believes: “The difference can be felt and seen easily.”
“Only 3,000 hand-finished glasses leave our factory each year,” said Claudia Schult, another employee. “They can be found in specialist shops and meet demanding glass lovers from all over the world. The glasses can also be ordered in our web shop or the customer comes by and is personally advised on site. In addition, we are happy to offer guided tours for smaller groups. We request advance registration for groups of more than five people.”
Wide range of products
Apart from refined glasses in several different colours, Rotter also offers a special Lübeck series with engraved motifs from the Hanseatic city. Small series for various occasions and individually made trophies for sporting competitions such as the Travemünder Woche are also available. The “Birth Cup” with the engraved name, time and date of birth make an ideal gift for parents.
Rotter Glas is a typical example of the diversity of craft, industry and commerce in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. The company that is steadfastly defying omnipresent mass production and addressing a discerning clientele that seeks out genuine, original and unique products.
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