Panelists Discuss Decorative Glass During NeoCon Presentation
June 15, 2010

Offering insight on the artistic, environmental and technical considerations associated with the installation of glass, a presentation titled "The Art and Science of Glass" took place today during NeoCon, which is underway at Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The panel discussion, which was sponsored by the Glass Association of North America, looked at several different aspects of decorative glass, including design inspiration, project planning and even environmental awareness. Panelists were designer Suzanne Tick of Suzanne Tick Inc., Al Leonard, vice president of sales for Trainor Glass Co. and Charles Rizzo, president of Skyline Design.

Tick, who designed a collection of glass for Skyline Design, began by taking the audience through her artistic approach to developing decorative glass.

When developing the collection for Skyline, she said, at one point she was in Seattle, where there are numerous showcases of decorative glass. Clarity, she said, seemed to be a predominant theme in many displays.

Another inspiration, she said, was the icon for Apple products.

"It's all about the look of technology in glass and that was also inspiring," she said, explaining that she found herself going back and forth between a technological and organic approach to the design.

She said she also found inspiration through many of her travels, which took her to India, Japan and the Middle East.

"You can tap on inspiration from anywhere and not be afraid to apply it to a material [such as glass]," she said.

Leonard spoke next and talked about some of the considerations architects and designers should take when working with decorative glass. For starters, he stressed the importance of staying within budget.

"Once the project is designed and developed, does it fit within budget?" asked Leonard. "Next, you have to address its availability [i.e., does it have to be imported or is it readily available here] and does it meet the job schedule? All of this has to be addressed once you pick out the product."

Whether the application will require safety glazing also needs to be considered.

"Some decorative glass products cannot be tempered or laminated," said Leonard. "This means they can only be used in places where safety glass is not required."

He also pointed out that when such products are used, the required safety glazing label can be a hindrance to the design, particularly when the glass is used in small quantities.

"When you do use [decorative] safety glass, get verification in writing from the manufacturer so you don't have to have the labels on the glass," he advised.

Other considerations when designing with decorative glass can include the type of system in which it's going to be installed. Leonard pointed out that, depending on the height of the glass, certain sizes or thicknesses may be required.

"We're a big promoter of glass," he added. "We're proud of the projects we've been involved with over the years and we have a good handle on what's needed to do the job."

Rizzo spoke last, and talked about the history of glass and also environmental attributes of glass.

In looking at the history of glass, he showed project examples-some of which were thousands of years old-to show how durable glass is. He also talked about the technologies that were developed to manufacture glass (i.e., the float glass process).

In looking at the environmental features, Rizzo noted, "Glass is inherently green."

He explained that it can be used in architecture in many applications; allows for easy space planning and changes; and provides daylight, which helps make people feel good.

Likewise, he added that glass products can also help a project earn LEED points. Some of the environmental features that glass can offer a project include the fact that it can be energy-efficient and durable; once it's installed it stays in for the length of the building's lifespan, "which reduces the need for landfills," Rizzo said.

"Few can imagine a world without glass; it's ubiquitous," Rizzo said. "As architects and designers [you have a] decision to supply aesthetic beauty as well as function and financial feasibility, but also to the environment. Make sure the materials you use are recyclable and can be re-used."

He added, "We believe in the relationship between the glass craftspeople and the design community. We can help you with your concerns and we can help you through the process."

NeoCon runs through tomorrow.

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