Subscribe to USGNN!

USGNN Original StoryDecorative Glass Presentation Draws Big Crowd in Las Vegas

Although attendance on the trade show floor was sparse, a surprisingly large crowd showed up at the Las Vegas Convention Center this past Wednesday morning for a GlassBuild America panel discussion on decorative glass. Moderated by Steve Schiamara, national sales manager for World Glass, the presentation included four panelists who each talked about the growth of the decorative glass market. Panelists were Belinda Bennett, principal with Bennett Design Group; Randy Brooks, president of Gardner Glass Products; Stew Langer a designer and founder of UroGlass®; and Victor Trnavskis, president of NGI Designer Glass.

Bennett, the designer of the panelists, talked about the importance of communicating and working with interior designers.

"You [the glass supplier] don't want to be just a vendor, but one who helps create the design solution," said Bennett, who also offered some advice for glass companies interested in getting involved in decorative glass.

"Sponsor an event and open your showroom to get designers in firsthand," she said. "Designers need to [be able to get to] know glass companies and we need to work with [glass companies] we know will follow through."

And for companies that do not have a showroom, she encouraged them to open one as it can help establish a permanent presence within the architecture and design community.

Overall, though, Bennett emphasized how important it is for glass companies to be a part of the entire design process.

"You can keep your product on the project by communicating with the designer," said Bennett. "Work with us as a team."

Randy Brooks was the next presenter and he took a broader approach to the subject of decorative glass.

"The [glass] industry is dealing with a lot of scarce resources," he said, referring to how in the past few months a number of float plants have closed, while others have been shut-down for re-builds and repairs. "All of this is changing the dynamics of the products we have available. Plus, the primaries don't want to make commodity clear glass anymore and we need to think about what glass is available and how we are going to use it," he said.

Brooks next talked to his audience members about how they can best utilize the resources they have. He suggested companies should learn about lean techniques.

"That does not mean doing the same work but with fewer people," he said. "Lean is for all types of businesses and it enables you to be more nimble."

When it comes to trends, Brooks pointed out that when home starts are down, remodeling often benefits.

"We're seeing that consumers want authenticity and products that will give them a sense of ownership," said Brooks. Some trends of late include adding color and also going green.

In addition, he encouraged audience members to look for new customers and to build alliances. For example, he said granite and marble companies have started re-tooling their equipment lines to accommodate glass.

Stew Langer from Uroglass spoke next and talked about how the decorative glass of old relates to the decorative glass of today. He said that while decorative glass was first discovered during the Bronze Age (3000 B.C.), much happened between then and when the fist float line was invented, including the development of antique glass, stained glass and etched glass.

"But everything we know that's new and exciting has happened since the first float line," said Langer, who added, "We've expanded what we do by identifying all the places you can use glass." This can include sinks and countertops, walls, dividers, railings, floors and stairs … the list goes on.

"If you're only thinking 'glazing' you're not looking at the big picture," he added.

Langer also said the future of decorative glass is very closely tied to the future of flat glass.

"We've got to pay a lot of attention to the environment and sustainability," Langer said. In closing, he echoed what Bennett had said earlier.

"Be a part of the architectural solution; push the envelope and get this stuff out there."

As the final presenter, Victor Trnavskis shared a series of photos that showed many different applications and uses of decorative glass.

"It's endless what you can do," he said. "Look at what some of the big players are doing." He also talked about a few trends. These include color, combining glass and stone, 3-D assemblies and digital technologies.

He said some companies shy away from working with decorative glass because they are afraid of running into problems, but this work can offer great opportunities.

"If you do [decorative glass work] you will become known in your area as 'the company that does that type of work.'"

For more from GlassBuild America 2008 don't miss the December 2008 USGlass magazine. Sign up here www.decorativeglassmag.com to reserve your own subscription to the new Decorative Glass magazine™.

CLICK HERE to view a video of some of the decorative glass products from GlassBuild America.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to USGlass magazine.