As I write this, it’s Saturday, July 1 and I’m sitting in my Helsinki, Finland, hotel room in anticipation of my flight home in the morning. By the time I’m there tomorrow night I will have been gone a week. It’s a long trip, to what may seem like a faraway place—less than 2,000 miles from the North Pole—but if you’re in the glass industry, the  reason to go is incredibly worth it.

I’m heading home from the every-other-year Glass Performance Days (GPD) conference. The event includes in-depth workshops, seminars and presentations, networking and social activities, all within the surroundings of the gorgeous Finnish scenery. The days are long and the nights are even longer, topped off with nearly 24 hours of daylight. There’s nothing else like it and it’s THE place to be if you want to be in the know with the future of architectural glass.

This year GPD is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Jorma Vitkala is the man who makes it all happen. He and his team work tirelessly to create an event where participants can go to learn, share knowledge and build new contacts.

Jorma Vitkala, chair of the GPD organizing committee.

As part of its anniversary, this year’s GPD featured a number of changes. It moved to a new and bigger venue and featured a new program focused on what was called Step Change. The intent was to bring startup companies offering a technology or solution that can be ported into any part of the glass business, before the established glass industry audience. Organizers hoped to see developments that would “rattle” an industry “which desperately is in need of innovation.”

It’s often been said that the U.S. industry is slower to advance in new developments compared to Europe. Innovation was a hot topic this year. One of the buzz words was “anisotropy.” If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will. This basically refers to the visual appearance of glass and some of the common issues (i.e. iridescence). Several sessions focused on the subject and a day-long workshop was dedicated to it. The questions many are asking is how do we know/determine what’s an acceptable level of anisotropy? The challenge, though, is that at this time there are no standards, guidelines, etc. to go by. This is something discussed at the workshop, with participants pointing out that if the industry doesn’t step up and address this, someone else ultimately will.

There’s always something to learn at GPD and always good times to be had … of course you never know what you’ll get … kind of like the vodka shots in eggshells at the conference dinner or the amazing fire dancers at the farewell party. GPD is one-of-a-kind and definitely worth it.

Eggshells hold shots of vodka during the GPD conference dinner.
The GPD farewell party featured amazing entertainment from a group of fire dancers.

Check out the links below for a look back at GPD 2017 and keep an eye on™ for more to come.

GPD Opens in Tampere

Hot Topics at GPD

Focus on Fabrication