Design Indaba alumnus Shaakira Jassat created a collection of trick glasses inspired by social distancing and caterpillars for the Nationaal Glasmuseum

South African-born designer Shaakira Jassat, the founder and owner of Studio Sway, was commissioned by the Nationaal Glasmuseum in Leerdam to design a contemporary take on 16th and 17th-century Dutch ‘joke glasses’ that both surprise the drinker and function as an icebreaker. 


With very little information about the glasses available, Jassat worked closely with glass expert Kitty Lameris and glassblower Marc Barreda to find out more about both the historical context and technical requirements, and after months of experimentation, she finished her collection titled ‘Morphosis’. ‘Morphosis’ is currently exhibited as part of the ‘Glas als Ijsbreker’ display at the Nationaal Glasmuseum in Leerdam, Netherlands. 

Jassat’s conceptual process also involved writing a poem to gather a sense of how she was feeling about the present moment. The poem, seen below, served as a catalytic point for the rest of the project. 

Morphosis by Shaakira Jassat 

Uprooted – no one in balance

A state of transition

Unsettling –



Collectively we have never been more apart

Individuals searching,

Searching and searching for answers

We don’t know the question; yet we keep searching

Perhaps we long for it, and we will forever long for it

A firm footing – that comfortable space


The world was endless –

Dreams reached

Just closing and opening our eyes

Goals attainable

It took only a determined soul


We had it all

Apple boughs laden with blossoms

Thunderclouds and caterpillars

Everything revolved around us 


 Uprooted – no one in balance

All so near yet further apart

This state of transition  

Unsettling –



The ‘Morphosis’ collection is a reflection on connection in current times, aiming to inspire participants with a renewed sense of collaboration. Inspired by the painting Vrolijk Gezelschap in de Buitenlucht by Gesina ter Borch, which shows a man courting a woman by tipping a drink with a glass connected from his mouth to hers, Jassat designed a glass that cannot be used alone. The 1.5m long design also kept in mind ‘social distancing’ requirements. Two users have to use this glass together – one controls what and how much the other drinks, requiring a heightened sense of trust. 


Jassat’s schertsglazen also celebrate non-human life, particularly that of caterpillars. Caterpillars have interesting compositions: they have individual segmented body parts that come together to create a whole, their inner gut propels their outer body forward, and they can also stack themselves on top of each other to form bigger groups known as rolling swarms. As they move in perfect synchronicity, they travel much faster. The ‘Morphosis’ glasses portray the aspects of a caterpillar’s body in an abstract way, also drawing inspiration from their individual yet collective existences.  



Read more:

Glass act.

Algae Window by Olafur Eliasson.

Shaakira Jassat pilots her Acquatecture.


Credits: Studio Sway