Interactive Forum

Dr. Gerhard Klaus, Hyalos Glas Konsult
Oetwil am See/Switzerland

Creative Possibilities for Designers

An interactive forum called “Design in Glass” allowed industrial designers to familiarize themselves with the characteristics and creative possibilities that glass can offer. The design event was organized by SCHOTT Schleiffer sales and marketing in Switzerland.

In order to clear up any remaining questions about “what” and “how” to accomplish it, a group of leading industrial designers and architects was invited to a meeting held in the historical Art Nouveau villa “Erlengut” on Lake Zurich. The idea was to win over this rather unconventional audience before the actual event opened to the public. Among the participants were the President of the Swiss Industrial Designers Association and other famous designers with clientele from Switzerland’s top corporations as well as top-notch interior architects who have been involved in projects for global companies.

Glass, the multi-talented medium

In a stylish and pleasant atmosphere, famous Swiss designers and architects learned more about the material glass.
For many decades, SCHOTT Spezialglas AG, Standort Grünenplan has been manufacturing flat and bent glass for the most varied industrial applications. In the last few years, the company invested heavily in the post-processing of flat glass, thereby laying the foundation for the manufacturing of highly innovative products, which are being used increasingly in engineering, industrial and residential applications.

SCHOTT Spezialglas AG, Standort Grünenplan showed a wide multi-faceted selection of products for the most varied applications. Sand-blasted fully glazed doors, fusing samples, bar tables, profile glass rods, melted colored glass, glass wash basins, flat and bent coated glasses, a bent milk glass and bent thin glass are some examples. Other SCHOTT companies and specialty firms sent numerous samples as well. In addition to its standard product selection of rods made from special glass, SCHOTT-Rohrglas exhibited some of its more unusual products, such as its solar collectors and THI (Transparent Heat Insulation) modules. SCHOTT Interactive Glass impressed the public with highly transparent, futuristic glass keyboards (the so-called touch screens), while SCHOTT VTF brought an extensive selection of coatings for baking oven sheets or microwave ovens. Four interactive workshops were set up so people could gain in-depth knowledge about everything they always wanted to know about glass – its properties and processing techniques, form and color as well as coating and function. Designer Britta Pukall from Milani Design gave a fascinating speech entitled “Glass: Where does it come from? Where is it going?” addressing the present and future uses of the material.

Finishing provides the last touch

In addition to being transparent and conducting light, this unique material we call glass has other interesting and unusual properties. It is even possible to modify its thermal resistance and mechanical stability by carefully and effectively introducing tensions into the glass. For example, with a special post-processing technique it is possible to dramatically lower the risk of injuries caused by the breaking of sheet and plate glass. The result of this finishing is appropriately known as safety glass. The message to the participants couldn’t be clearer: Glass fulfills the highest and most varied demands placed on it thanks to that extra finishing touch.

Fusing into absurd patterns

Fusing: Because it can be melted, “Artista” colored glass offers artists many different creative possibilities.
“Artista”, a colored sheet and plate glass made by SCHOTT Spezialglas AG, Standort Grünenplan that can be melted in the open oven at a temperature of 900ºC can be “combed” if wrapped in the appropriate protective coating. The multicolored glass stripes create absurd and original patterns, a technique that was already known to the ancient Egyptians, who applied it when decorating their “sand core jugs”. So everybody could appreciate how extensive the applications of the fusing technique are, a three-part screen made with “Artista” was brought to the workshop.

Glass is in “top shape”

Another part of the workshop dealt with the subject of how the numerous SCHOTT Spezialglas AG, Standort Grünenplan exhibits had been given the “proper shape”. Examples included large, deep bowls used as wash basins; coated components made of colored sheet and plate glass used as storage space in living rooms and bathrooms; and colorful “grid bowls” made by the fusing process.
With the right know-how, glass can be shaped into a multitude of forms.
Apart from the varied exhibitions of profile glass (which, when lit appropriately, provides highly attractive architectural touches or can be used in lighting technology), the exhibition pieces that probably caught most of the public’s attention were the solar modules and their components for “transparent heat insulation” made by SCHOTT-Rohrglas. These modules have the trade name of “Helioran” and consist of a frame filled with very thin-walled, 80-mm-long glass rods with a diameter of 10 mm. These novel elements find their use in solar walls, daylight systems and room dividers.

High functionality

Coatings give glass additional properties: For example, with coatings infrared rays are reflected in the baking oven, keeping the heat inside; colorful accents can be made through enamelling; imprinted and backlit glass panels indicate the function of the appliance (stove, refrigerator, etc.). Another example is the thin glass manufactured by SCHOTT Interactive Glass, which is used as a component in interactive input and transparent switching systems, thus opening up a whole range of possible applications in small appliances as well as in large industrial facilities.

Efficient collaboration is in demand

Over the years, product and design development processes have become increasingly complex. Nowadays, they must be finished faster and cheaper. This places higher demands on all involved, which means that it pays to give special attention to efficient and effective team work. “SCHOTT would be delighted to advise industrial designers in all matters referring to glass” summed up Peter Schleiffer at the interactive forum “Design in Glass”. The company’s commitment was underlined by simulations dealing with resistance and safety. As a manufacturer of special glass, SCHOTT’s vast technical know-how allows it to optimize a complex product in the shortest possible time, benefitting designers as well as consumers. Nevertheless, according to Schleiffer, the company still depends on the feedback and creative input from designers so it can help make their ideas reality.