Stew Langer, UroGlass
When Stew Langer started working for his friend and fellow band mate’s stained glass business in the early 1970s he probably never imagined that he’d be operating his own decorative glass company more than 3o years later. Early on in his glass-industry career Langer worked with stained, leaded and etched glass, but a trip to Australia gave him a new view on decorative glass. And in 1998 UroGlass® was born in Kansas City,
“Australia is the art glass capital of the world,” says Langer, who explains he worked with companies there to learn these warm glass technologies, which he later brought back to the United States. Over the years he’s seen the industry grow and evolve due mainly to both market demand and technological
Q: What have been the biggest changes to this market?
A: The biggest change is that the growth of the number of decorative glass solutions has been exponential. There are now so many ways to tweak these products. So much has been made possible by new technology. The whole concept of [printing on glass] was born of the computer age. Another change has been the need to combine functional performance with decorative
Q: Why is decorative glass exciting and fun to work
A: It’s not so much the specific attributes of each medium as much as it is the many choices that are available. [What’s exciting] is having so many options and challenges to find ways to work with them
Q: The architectural and design communities have a lot of interest in decorative glass products, but not a lot of information and knowledge about them. How can the industry work to change
A: Because architects are required to earn a certain number of continuing education credits (CECs), the decorative glass industry has a great opportunity to help them fulfill those requirements by going out there and teaching them about our products. We should take these products to them because [the excitement] is contagious.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about decorative glass
A: I think if there is a difficulty in getting the products to market it’s born of reluctance by people to do something new. They think it’s more difficult to glaze or that the products are at a different price point … some people have a million excuses to not get involved and the industry has to get them past that. Look at all the solutions that are available and don’t discount what you don’t know anything
Q: Environmental awareness is such an important issue right now. How might this cross over to affecting the decorative glass
A: Decorative or not, glass is a renewable resource. And there are designs, patterns and treatments that can be done to the glass that make it aesthetically pleasing and they are still in tune to the needs of the environment. Looking ahead, I see combinations of all these elements … multi-layer laminates, switchable glazing, solar glazing … all being brought into one product that works together—a combination of form and
Q: Generally speaking, what’s in store for the future from
A: Where our company is going is not so much in the direction of new products as it is broadening what we already do with our existing products, such as color and post-production treatments to the glass. We’re evolving into a more solution-based company … if a company is a comprehensive decorative glass source you can easily respond to the needs of your clients without being locked into just one solution.
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