Volume 44, Issue 3 - March 2009

Feature

Definite Details
A Look at Architectural Trends with Patterned Glass
by Cathie Saroka

Textured, patterned glass has long been used as a way to introduce light into a space, while maintaining privacy. These products give any application a unique voice and make the design stand out. 

“By using design in innovative ways, we can actually become the originators of a design trend,” says Joel Berman of Joel Berman Glass Studios in Vancouver. “When we create a pattern or form into glass and offer artistic privacy to the work space this, in effect, causes the work spaces to change and results in developing trends.” 

And just what are some of the biggest trends in patterned glass? A few industry experts shared their thoughts. 

Green Design: As a design concept, patterned glass lends itself well to green design. By transmitting daylight into the workspace, glass can be a renewed light source, reducing the need for electric light. Some kiln-formed and cast patterns also use recycled glass in the manufacturing process, making them eligible for LEED® credits. 

Non-Traditional Uses: The use of textured glass in applications other than buildings is also escalating.

“The outdoors has been in the forefront for us,” says Berman, who adds that hotel, casino, restaurant and bar designs also increasingly use patterned glass. 

Building Bigger: An increase in the available sizes of patterned glass products has had an impact on its use in commercial construction. At one time the majority of textured glass products were only available in 4-mm (5⁄32-inch) thicknesses. “This was not strong enough for commercial use without laminating, which added extra cost to the project,” says Greg Saroka of Goldray Industries. “Many patterns are now available in 6-mm (1⁄4-inch) and 10-mm (3⁄8-inch), expanding the applications in which the products can be used.”

And with larger sizes now available, patterned glass can be used in massive exterior glazing facades. Donald Jayson of Bendheim points to some large European projects, for example, that have used patterned glass in significant curtainwall applications. “If your project is a minimum of 25,000 square feet some manufacturers are willing to devote a day’s production to a custom pattern,” says Jayson.

The inherent texture of patterned glass is also a design plus. “Its increasing use in spandrel, wall cladding and elevator interior applications illustrates the design flexibility that can be found with this product,” says Saroka. “The combination of metallic coatings and the texture in patterned glass can really make the design stand out.”

Interior Elements: Designers continue to expand the use of patterned glass in innovative ways for interior applications as well. Saroka says that in addition to traditional uses, such as partitions and room dividers, he has seen patterned/textured glass used increasingly for glass floors and stairways. “The use of patterned glass in flooring systems allows designers to use the diffusion of patterned glass, and yet still allow light deeper into the building,” Saroka says. 

Limitations
As with any building material, there are some limitations to using patterned glass. Saroka says the biggest drawback is the limited supply available from North American companies

“If we have a job of any size, we often need to bring the glass in from overseas, which results in either drastically increasing our inventory levels or dealing with longer lead times,” says Saroka. “Neither option is very attractive for us or the contractors.” He adds that the sheet size available from North American suppliers is also limited. “Eighty-four inch stock sheets can be used for shower and railing applications or for those using mullions in the design, but it limits the use of textured glass in commercial applications.”

Still Popular
Patterned glass has been popular for many years. One way to ensure continued use, according to Berman, is to always look at design from a current point of view. “Some designs are always timeless, but as a designer, when the venue changes, we must be able to work with new architectural and cultural changes,” says Berman.

Donald Jayson of Bendheim agrees. “Patterns may initially be very popular, but have a definitive life span of growth, plateau and, eventually, decline. We must evolve constantly to maintain interest in the product.”

Belinda Bennett, an interior designer and principal of the Bennett Design Group in Houston, says she sees a “back to nature” trend when it comes to patterned glass.

“With the welfare of Mother Earth pushing to the forefront of design projects, patterns in glass are becoming more natural and organic,” she says. “Since glass itself is organic, it is only natural for the glass to evolve into what it wants to be, instead of man forcing it to be uninteresting and flat. It is as if glass has finally broken free of our once forced boundaries.”

Commercial or residential, new building or renovation, interior or exterior, textured glass gives designers the flexibility to develop spaces that use light, texture and privacy in unique and creative ways. 

Cathie Saroka, MBA, LEED AP, is the marketing director for Goldray Industries Ltd., in Calgary, Alberta.

Going for Gold
One on One with Zach Weiner, President, of Goldray USA

Colonial Glass Solutions, a family-owned glass business based in Brooklyn, N.Y. for 80 years, turned over a new leaf when it joined forces with Calgary’s Goldray Industries last September to become Goldray USA. The new company was formed to manufacture and distribute architectural glass products into the Northeastern United States and New England, with extensive investments slated to add decorative glass manufacturing capabilities. 

Zach Weiner, then president of Colonial and now president of Goldray USA, talked about the decision to become a Goldray company, how his company is different now and what it’s like to become more involved with the growing decorative glass business.

Having been a family-owned and operated business for so long, what made you decide to become a part of Goldray? 

I was trying to get Colonial as far away from a mom- and- pop business as possible. In this new business environment only the world-class companies will survive and I did not feel comfortable that I could make that transition alone.

Was this a difficult decision for you? 

It was not. I had known that I wanted to partner with someone ever since I took over control of Colonial Glass. The only decision I had to make was who would make the best fit. After meeting Greg [Saroka, president of Goldray Industries] and seeing his facility in Calgary, the decision was easy.

Is there anything in particular you’d like for the industry to know about the changes in business?

Yes. I want customers to know that the biggest change relates to the improved quality and reliability of our existing products—tempered glass, insulating units and Herculite doors. That was the main reason for this partnership. The icing on the cake is now we have become a premier supplier of decorative glass products.

Goldray is a significant player in the decorative glass market; how much experience did you have working with decorative glass previously? 

We hadn’t done much with it and that was a big reason for this partnership. I saw the interest that my customers had in decorative glass and wanted to take advantage of these opportunities in the Northeast market. I knew that doing it myself would be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. When we became Goldray USA we had instant decorative glass credibility and have already supplied many of our customers with many of the decorative products we produce right here in Brooklyn.

Now that your branch is going to be doing more on the decorative side, what are some new opportunities you will be exploring? 

Right now we are starting with providing our current customers with some new and exciting decorative products in addition to our existing product line. However, the more I learn about decorative glass, the more applications I see that will be a great fit for our new products. Our focus is mainly on expanding the areas in which glass is used. It’s an extremely versatile product and decorative glass products can be used to replace many other building materials since it has unlimited design flexibility, high durability, is cost effective and low maintenance.

What are some of the trends you see taking shape with decorative glass? 

The biggest trend I see is really the increased use of decorative glass as a building material mainly due to flexibility of design. Because this is such a versatile building material, I see its use being expanded in new and interesting ways. The new imaging techniques and huge range of durable colors and effects that can be applied to glass really make the products very desirable to designers.

Many people working with decorative glass say they have not seen the sharp downturn that traditional building materials have experienced. Do you agree?|

During challenging economic times, commercial vacancies rise, companies often downsize and building owners will offer incentives to lease space that include renovations. The trend toward renovation rather than building new is one of the reasons that we see the decorative glass market as the area with the most growth potential. Because glass has so much design flexibility, it offers a new palette for designers that was only available in a limited way 20 years ago. The opportunities in this market for decorative glass are much more diverse than other building products that rely on new construction.

USG
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.