Top Five Trends in Glass at the AIA Show
1. Dynamic and solar control glass a-go-go: The primary manufacturers were out in semi-force (no AGC, no Cardinal) touting new and advanced products for solar control and energy efficiency. PPG Industries and Pleotint teamed up to present Suntuitive. It changes shading based on temperature and is easy to install, according to PPG’s Joanne Funyak; Honeymooners Saint-Gobain and Sage Electrochomic were discussing a future of joint products (though they still had separate booths). Saint-Gobain also displayed electrochromic microlouvers available with both fixed and dynamic daylight control; and Guardian Industries’ product offerings included an innovative new photovoltaic system. Guardian actually had California contract glazier Nick Bagatelos at the booth discussing the system and how contract glaziers can learn to install it.
2. It’s a screen; no wait, now it’s mirror: Great strides have been made in allowing huge expanses of glass to be used for projection. In the past, issues with tints and lack of ability to offer reflective products remained. But not any more. Guardian, NSG and Schott displayed products that could display TV, movies, really any digital input, when in use and look just like mirror when dormant. And these products can now be provided in large sizes to create spectactular-sized mirror that converts to serve a screen function.
3. The Wall comes of age: We aren’t talkin’ Pink Floyd here, but the glass window wall, which keeps stretching higher and wider. Klein USA, Panda Windows and Doors and Nanawall all showed new variations of a product that continues to grow in use. The popularity of outdoor living, coupled with a desire to bring nature indoors, has kept these products developing and expanding.
4. Something even an anti-terrorist would love: Maybe it was the influence of the nearby International Spy Museum (or maybe it was the Security Product Expo going on upstairs), but glass this year took on an expanded role as a security and anti-terrorism product. NSG introduced a product so new that it hasn’t even been named yet … the product actually is a mirror pane coating that is used in police buildings, anywhere with surveillance, but now is being used on clear glass products. LTI Smart Glass showed some pretty amazing artistic designs of extremely thick glass-clad polycarbonates. You would never suspect they were blast-resistance products, but then again that’s the whole idea.
5. Decorative diorama: The variety and types of glass products offered for decorative and interior use is breath-taking. New colors, textures, reliefs and designs, all have come of age, and now offer sophistication at some very decent price points. If a designer can dream it, they can find it.
Just a few more random thoughts …. Kolbe Windows and Doors offered a 90-degree beveled unit that can handle a variety of insulating glasses, very sharp looking in appearance …. Glass Toilet Cubicles garnered a great deal of interest. Indeed this may have been the “year of the commode” judging by the number of booths offering them, each providing a different level of comfort. There’s more to this but I won’t elaborate …. Glass block bounced back a bit with some new products offered by Innovative Building Products Inc., including glass pavers, glass flooring and a glassblock grid system … loved the new electrical outlets of the future a number of companies displayed. You’ll still have your two outlets, but they’ll be complete with charger stations and/or USB ports right in the wall … we continue to evolve. Sleeper product of the show: a locking pull system for glass and wood doors, sleek and functional, from Amba Products of Atlanta.
The most surprising thing was how much an event like this takes on the character of the city it’s in. I never realized this before. Whereas AIA’s convention in New Orleans last year was a bit rowdy and jazzed up, this year’s at the convention center in Washington, D.C., was more conservative and sedate, yet full of serious business.
Most exhibitors reported higher traffic levels than last year and the movement of the show around the country (next year to Denver in June) has been received positively. Reviews of the show’s effectiveness were mixed, however. As one exhibitor pointed out, “We never really know until 9, 10 months from now if AIA bore fruit.”
Click on the links below for more of our coverage from the show:
– AIA Convention Opens to Launches of New Glazing, Fenestration Products
– Day One and All the Fun
– Energy-Efficient Products, Advanced Glazing Headline AIA
– View the AIA Slide Show