During the glasstec 2024 preview event, some of the exhibitors that will take the Messe Düsseldorf facility by storm this October hosted meet and greets.

by Abby Bowman, associate editor of USGlass magazine

Passing through United States customs on my way home from Düsseldorf, Germany, I had to shake three or four business cards out of my passport. Obviously, I don’t normally store business cards in my passport, but I had just attended a preview event for glasstec 2024. The show organizers invited two dozen journalists to meet and talk with 19 of the exhibitors who will be at the main event this October.

I happened to stuff all the cards I collected there in the inner pocket of my purse, which is also where I’d stowed my passport. The cards and all-important little blue booklet jumbled together during the 10-plus hours of traveling I’d done so far on my return trip.

Those business cards represent individuals from 12 companies, many of which have headquarters in Germany and others in France, Austria, Italy, Finland, and China, among others.

This trip further solidified two beliefs for me: First, being exposed to other cultures is critical to human development, so I want to explore other regions of the globe as much as possible. Second, I have a lot left to learn about glass.

Small Adventures

I arrived a day early to acclimate to the time change, so I had time to explore Düsseldorf before the event started. This was vital because it took me at least five minutes to figure out something as simple as turning on the lights in my hotel room. I had to insert my key card into a slot next to the door to get the electricity to flow, something I have since found out is common in Europe.

Once I sorted that out and recharged my own batteries with a nap, I began exploring the city. My meanderings that evening took me to Altstadt (Old Town), a popular section of the city filled with restaurants, bars and shops in quaint old buildings. The next morning, I traipsed around a few residential neighborhoods and public parks before taking myself to a small art museum near the Rhine.

This experience left me with an undefinable sense of enrichment, a sense that I’d learned a little of the manners, customs, art and architecture of another country, and I was better off for it. I also felt humbled that most people I spoke with at my hotel, in the city and at the glasstec preview spoke varying degrees of English and at least one other language, whereas I speak about one and a quarter languages, including English. That’s something I plan on fixing.

Glass is Global

During the glasstec preview event, some of the exhibitors that will take the Messe Düsseldorf facility by storm this October had tables where the journalists could visit them and ask questions.

One topic stood out among the exhibitors: sustainability. Some companies’ primary purpose was to facilitate sustainability within the glass industry; for others, it was a major consideration in their product development or business model.

In the past half-year in the glass industry, I have encountered the concepts of sustainability and environmental mindfulness regarding glass. However, this is the first time I have sat down and thoroughly considered their global importance. Sustainability cares for the planet we all share.

Speaking with individuals from each company about their products and business models and how they plan to pursue sustainability allowed me to explore the different facets of glass production, manufacturing and installation more deeply.

I thought about all the water involved in glass production and manufacturing, all the equipment involved in making glass and the work that goes into repairing or replacing it. I considered the intersection of decorative and practical functions in glass. One exhibitor even had me pondering glass on a molecular level.

I returned to Virginia with a more comprehensive view of glass and the global glass industry than when I left. I can’t wait to return for glasstec this Fall.

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