“We are getting more and more creative and complex with decorative glass. Our members are doing amazing things.”

Mandy Marxen lead a discussion on decorative glass trends during the GANA Fall Conference.
Mandy Marxen lead a discussion on decorative glass trends during the GANA Fall Conference.

That’s what Mandy Marxen of Gardner Glass Products said this morning during a presentation on decorative glass trends during the Glass Association of North America’s Fall Conference.

Marxen, who spoke during the decorative division meeting, took a look at what’s been driving some of the trends. For one, she said architects and designers are becoming more involved directly with fabricators and manufacturers. She added, “They [architects and designers] are naturally inquisitive,” and often ask about “what else” glass can do.

“They are willing to take artistic risks,” she said.

Addressing the question of “what else can it do?” Marxen pointed out that glass is easy to clean and care for; it’s also durable and will last a long time. It provides environmental benefits and can be used in daylighting design among many others. “And it’s artistic,” she said. “Glass [can be used as] a focus wall, as art, as graphics, etc.”

She also said the evolution of technology, such as application and ink developments, substrate developments, and film developments are also driving the increasing trends in decorative glass.

“There are a lot of manufacturers pushing the envelope to see what’s next,” she said.

She also talked about the increasing interest in graphics on glass. These, for example, can provide an opportunity in areas such as wallpaper design, signage, etc.

Metal and fabric within glass are also popular.

“Metallics are big right now,” she said. “Laminated mesh, woven papers, fabrics that would be too fragile on their own, sandwich them within glass and they can do so much more.”

Other trends she said include iridescent glass and finding ways to get color in different ways; controlling light and glare; traction/non-slip features that allow glass to be used as flooring; and many others.

Then, she pointed out, companies are taking all the many processes and can combine them into one product. “That’s really where I think the decorative division shines,” she said. “Once you have the process, [it’s a question of] what can you combine it with [to do more]?”

So what’s next for decorative glass? Marxen said there are a lot of technological advances taking place that could impact glass products. For example, this could include working with in conductive inks that could become a part of the product and operated by user control. “Not just an LED,” she said, “but something usable and customizable …”

Another option is in the expanding touch screen technology. Imagine, she said, storefront and interiors that can become interactive, giant iPads. Glass is also becoming thinner and more flexible. “What happens to our products in conjunction with that? It can become a whole new realm of art when we’re talking about 3-dimensional.”

The GANA Fall Conference will take place all this week in Toronto. Continue to look to USGNN™ and usglassmag.com for event updates.