Glass—you can write on it, walk on it and, oh yes, look through it. And for the commercial interiors and design industry, the one place to find the latest products and styles for everything from office chairs to new possibilities in glass is Neocon. Running through today at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, Neocon is a three-day event that brings together more than 400 exhibitors working to educate attendees and provide new product offerings. Members of the glass industry are among those companies on hand at the show, providing a close look at how glazing products can enhance interior design.
“You can tell the economy is getting better by the quality and types of leads we’re receiving for our members,” says Ashley Charest, account executive for the Glass Association of North America (GANA). “There is a huge interest in decorative glass, what it is currently capable of, and the lengths we can go with the product to create new and unique designs. From the standpoint of application, the majority of our direct questions surround institutional settings such as schools, hospitals and senior living facilities.”
GANA member Cathie Saroka of Goldray is also at the show, volunteering in the association’s booth.
“The vibrancy on the show floor is really exciting to see. The decorative division of GANA has a booth on the eight floor and we’re showing samples of the beautiful work that some of our members have created,” says Saroka. “Our goal at the show is to educate designers on the different types of decorative glass that are available and the wide range of applications in which it can be used. We hope to come home with some solid leads for our members.”
Gardner Glass Products is also exhibiting, and Mandy Marxen, vice president of marketing, says glass is bigger than ever before.
“Companies are popping up everywhere that do little glass markerboards. But nearly every booth has something made of glass in it: cubicle dividers, table tops, markerboards …” she says. “The architects and designers understand more about glass than ever before. Five years ago when we started coming to Neocon we had to make the glazier connection for a designer when they liked our products. Now, they usually have ‘a glass guy’ that they use and trust, so that’s a big shift in my opinion.”
Marxen adds that she continues to see a strong interest in color.
“They love the color specification, and always love our color matching confidence,” she says. “And the acid-etched finishes are definitely gaining popularity due to glare reduction.”
Pilkington North America is also at the show, featuring a range of glass products. According to Michael S. Johnson, regional sales and marketing manager, the show seems to be very well attended. “We have seen a lot of traffic through our booth that has included architects, designers, glass fabricators, contractors, builders, building owners, etc.,” he says. “There has been great interest in our newer Pilkington MirroView™ and MirroView™ 50/50 TV/display mirror products, Optiwhite™ low iron and OptiView™ anti-reflective, Pilkington Texture Glass, as well as our many float glass colors and coated options,” he says. “Designers have a continued desire to find new ways to incorporate glass into their projects … glass expands their interior spaces, borrows light, and adds aesthetic appeal.”
In addition, a number of glass-industry companies are first-time Neocon exhibitors. These include Casca Glass, which offers products such as glass marker boards and accessories, The Sliding Glass Door Company, which offers interior sliding door systems.
The show opened on Monday and concludes today.