SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2009 > Interview

John French Photo: SCHOTT/A. Sell

Innovative Design for Museums

John French, Director and Chairman of Click Netherfield Ltd., one of the world’s leading international museum showcase manufacturers, reflects on the use of anti-reflective glass in displays in museums.

Christine Fuhr

solutions: Mr. French, please say a few words about your company.

French: We are an innovative company that focuses on manufacturing museum display cases and design solutions.

solutions: What do you consider to be your most important success factors?

French: Because we have such a narrow focus, we have become very good at what we do. In addition, we operate internationally and our showcases can be found in more than 50 countries all over the world. Another important reason why we are so successful is that we work together with some of the world’s best architects and designers, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, Ieoh Ming Pei, Frank Gehry and Norman Foster, to name only a few.

solutions: Can you please describe a few of the most recent projects that you’re particularly proud of?

French: Our top projects have definitely been the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar, designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, the Art Gallery of  Ontario in Toronto that was designed by Frank Gehry and the Leeds City Museum in the UK. We are currently working on the Ulster Provincial Museum and a project in Anchorage, Alaska.

solutions: Has Click Netherfield ever been presented with awards over the years?

French: Yes, we’ve received quite a few: the British Design Award, the Best Business in Scotland Award, and the Queen’s Award for International Trade, the highest business award in the UK, only last year.

“Our recipe for success is that we cooperate with some of the world’s best architects and designers.”

(John French, Director and Chairman of Click Netherfield)

Photos: Click Netherfield
solutions: What were the main challenges you faced with the ambitious project in Qatar?

French: The Doha project that actually started in 2005 required the largest financial commitment that our company has ever undertaken. Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who was the interior designer, also proposed some very innovative solutions that we then had to develop into engineering solutions. Nevertheless, the main challenge was really one of scale.

solutions: For example?

French: The project included 410 showcases and 18 different types of cases. The largest case is as big as a whole room: ten meters long, five meters high, and three meters deep. And, of course, the shipping and logistics challenges were unheard of. We had more than 200 tons of anti-reflective glass and more than 350 tons of steel that had to be imported into Qatar.

solutions: What actually convinced you to involve SCHOTT in this prestigious project?

French: We had already been working with the company on the fiber optics and glass side for around ten years and therefore knew we had found a reliable partner. So, when it came to the Doha project, we were comfortable with the relationship and completely convinced of the quality of this product.

solutions: At what point did you decide to use the anti-reflective glass Amiran® from SCHOTT?

French: From the very start, to be honest. We selected Amiran®, because it is truly the best. By that, I mean that it has the best wearing properties of any of the low reflective types of glass. For a project of this scale, one really has no choice, but to go for the best.

solutions: What types of innovations are you using Amiran® for?

French: One innovation that is quite worth mentioning is the first configurable showcase called “Evolution” that is made entirely of Amiran®. This is truly unique, because this showcase can be made into modules.

solutions: What are your plans for the future ?

French: Well, considering how successfully we’ve been using low reflective glass in exciting museum applications all over the world, we’re clearly looking forward to working together with SCHOTT on many new projects in the years to come ! <|