Volume 50, Issue 9 - September 2015

Creative Cues

Visual Perspectives
Three Keys to a Successful Decorative Glass Design

by Steve Sudeth

Editor’s note: Creative Cues is a new column that will appear bi-monthly. It will focus on a variety of decorative glass topics.

Designers can be the most enigmatic of clients. The other day I was working with a design team on a corporate remodel, and they wanted a magenta glass color that “motivates and inspires an employee to greatness.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve never walked into an office and said to myself “Man, that color really makes me want to be my best self.”

One of the hardest parts about working in the design world is translating the aesthetic needs of a project into something that works for both form and function. There are so many competing interests between the client’s demands, designer’s intent and our fabrication abilities that creating a solution can become a game of trial and error. In these situations, I find myself trying to understand the design, shape the expectation and set the project up for success.

Inspired Inspiration

The September Issue of Vogue magazine is going to be strangely important for me. Interior designers are inspired by fashion constantly and want to use the runway trends in their new concepts. Sales reps are often given “inspiration images,” and many times those images are pulled from the pages of a fashion magazine.

I’ve been given inspiration images that included a pile of rocks, a selfie from the music festival Coachella and a bikini-clad runway model holding an umbrella. In each instance, I had to work with the designer to figure out what about each image inspired them and then help find a glass product that represents the concept. In case you were wondering, the pile of rocks inspired acid-etch with a warm gray back-paint, Coachella became a graphic light box and the model with an umbrella was a textured laminated glass that ended up value-engineered out of the job.

The Dior storefront in Las Vegas features a unique, layered composition of carved, bent glass. More than 50 illuminated ½-inch panels, some more than 150 inches long, are set 12 inches apart to form the radial façade.

Setting the Bar

A client can be wowed by a bold design palate and an impressive 3-D rendering, but what ends up being built can look very different. Most clients don’t have the budget for a 96-by-144-inch monolithic backpainted feature wall with a custom pattern. Those are fun to design but, unfortunately, a level of sobriety takes hold when we calculate the price.

Lead times, sensible sizes and an understanding of fabrication capabilities are the most frequent issues we encounter. In these instances, a sales rep can become a glazier’s best friend. It becomes our job as design consultants to find a happy middle ground that will satisfy the dreams of a designer without creating more headaches down the road for both the fabricator and installer.

Where’s My Sample!?!

Sometimes the sampling process makes me feel like a symphony conductor. As the person working with the designer and for the fabricator, I’m trying to get all the moving pieces of materials and artwork to harmonize with production schedules. At the same time, the designers are beating the drum behind us, trying to push the tempo. It all comes together and we get them an amazing glass solution … just in time for the client to change their mind.
So much of my job is to understand the life and language of designers so that when this happens, I’m ready to roll with the new inspiration. So I guess I should go back to reading Vogue.

the author

Steve Sudeth
is the creative director for Glas-Pro in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.

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