Okay so I got hit with a very bad cold, so I am quasi-working, sometimes sleeping, from home today and it got me thinking about the glass industry’s equivalent of “How can I get the experience if no one will hire me?”
The credit for the analogy actually goes to Dr. Helen Sanders of SageGlass, who spoke on a panel about innovation at the GlassCon Global Conference in Boston in July. The overriding theme of the discussion was the North American glass industry as innovators. Designers and architects had gently tried to heap a wad of guilt served on a cattle prod to our industry for not being more innovative. At least one of the speakers felt that the float process itself might be too limiting and a barrier to innovation.
The discussion was met with that nervous quiet that sometimes happens when everyone wants to see the expression on everyone else’s face, but doesn’t want to be caught looking.
But not Dr. Sanders. She challenged right back. “Innovation is clearly important,” she said, noting that this is the proverbial two-way street. “And what are people with such innovations often told when they find projects in which that glass would be great?” she asked. “They are told, ‘That’s wonderful, but we need to see at least three completed projects and ten years of performance data.’” Though Sage has been skillful in growing its very innovative business, she hit a nerve. Just about everyone was looking around the room again, and only this time nodding in agreement.
What she didn’t say, I will. Everyone wants the performance and qualities of glass to evolve. Yet few building owners or architects are willing to share the risk or make their buildings the guinea pigs for something new. Only when you get the rare combination of vision and funding (think Apple) do you get eye-popping change.
It shouldn’t have to be this way. And it’s a shame that it is.
Have a good week,
P.S. Speaking of a fun innovation, here’s one from Japan. Glass balcony? Glass window? How about they be one in the same.