Architects and designers are making ever more use of glass, especially because of its unique technical and aesthetic features. New manufacturing technologies are playing a key role in bridging the gap between a designer's imagination and what can be done in practice. While architects still tend to use glass to enclose spaces, the new horizons for interior design are quite intriguing. Milan's Design Week saw a range of new concepts and projects on show, shifting the focus to glass as a material to discover and use. The big names of glass - Fiam, Glas, Reflex and Rimadesio - all had their stands, but new innovative approaches were also found in unexpected spaces, such as the Air kitchen from Lago.
Glass is playing more of a leading role than ever and nobody understands this better than AGC.
Innovation is really important for us and we plough a lot of energy into it. Glass can be evanescent - and disappear into the very edges of a project - or it can play a dominant role, highlighting the very essence of the material. It can be cut, curved and resist incredibly high temperatures, but it can also be fragile and delicate, if those are the characteristics a designer wants to foreground. It is used in architecture, interior design, and the automotive, electronics and shipping industries.
When one comes into contact with so many projects that differ so wildly, a real danger arises of almost becoming indifferent to the beauty and imagination of certain works of architecture and design.
We see an incredible number of projects, but our passion drives us to tackle every challenge as if it were the first, partly because we have so many types of glass and keep producing new solutions in different colors, prints, coatings and mirror or reflective versions, even with LEDs or anti-reflection technology. This allows architects and designers to mix elements freely, resulting in constantly diverse projects. We like to see how the best use of the material can be made; how it can be exalted. I find it absolutely wonderful.
Do you feel the passion that connects a company like AGC with "glass artists" is perceived by the people you work with?
Definitely. Let me give you some key examples, for us, of the ultimate expression of collaboration between company and artist: working with Michele De Lucchi on the Oltreluce line - three textures that give life to mirrors and prints; and Berlin Dreams, the installation presented at the 2014 Milan Furniture Fair in which Daniel Libeskind redesigned, using our Mirox 3G mirrors, nine parts of the city that represent the architecture of Potsdamer Platz.
The ordinariness of working with designers and architects is not so different to these works. In truth, there is hardly a gaping hole between a unique installation and a product produced in series because the practice is the same.
Actually, it might be the case that the latter gets more attention, because of the focus of producing it in series and selling it. Precisely. This is why we are open to dialogue with designers, to provide an opportunity to learn more about AGC glass and all its various collections - Matelux, Lacobel, Planibiel, Mirox to name but a few - and to see how it can be matched to a person's creative desires. It is the inspiration and ideas from artists that open up paths for design and upcoming trends.
What paths are designers converging on at present?
Definitely towards the sensorial experience. We are working hard on the tactile sensation of glass and the new 2016 Matelac and Lacobel 20/20 lines are already moving in this direction.