A colleague and a designer friend were chatting about the state of the world and our industry at an event this week.
“What’s the deal with all of the people selling glass walls?” was the big question in the conversation.
Ray’s friend was expressing her confusion over the ever-increasing number of options being presented to her and her associates.
• Furniture people selling glass.
• Reps selling glass.
• Glaziers and Contractors selling glass.
• Glass from Canada, Italy, Denmark, Korea, Iowa.
• Glass with ‘incredible acoustic performance and STC ratings’.
• 10mm glass. 12mm glass. Low Iron glass. Curved glass. Laminated glass, etc.
Specifically, the conversation was really about Glass Office Front Systems, AKA: Storefronts. Part of the answer to ‘what’s the deal’. Start with Why?
• Glass is great!
• The steady increase in the use of glass in commercial office interiors is in direct response to all the positive trends associated with Sustainability, Wellness and employee engagement.
• Glass is strong, versatile, pretty, and adds significantly to the pallet of options architects and designers have at their disposal.
But what about the ‘Who’ and the ‘How’ of ‘What’s the deal?’ For that, full disclosure.
We have spent much time, talent and treasure over the past 8 years becoming Glass-People at Transwall. We’ve learned a lot. Many lessons were expensive and therefore painful. These learnings, however, were always at our expense and never our clients.
We noticed the growing interest in glass office front systems, particularly the slim profile and sexy ‘butt-glazed’ systems, around 2007.
We were hoping to be selected to compete for the then 1st Comcast Tower going up in our home market of Philadelphia.
The client was expressing exclusive interest in these sorts of systems. However, no domestic manufacturer, including Transwall offered them.
So, understandably European solutions were the only ones considered and ultimately selected.
Losing is one thing. Not even being able to get to the game is another.
We got to work.
By 2008 we had turned to the interior design industry, the interior contractors, and our own vast pool of moveable wall experts and create the first US – made, truly demountable, butt-glazed, slim-profile office front system; ONE by Transwall.
The design and engineering intent was to blend the aesthetics of the best European solutions with the functionality of the best moveable wall products.
ONE was the result, and market response was positive and swift.
Eight years later we are working on the equivalent of ONE 3.0, as we continue to refine the product in response to specifier, installer and client input.
With that as a slice of history, what do do about the seemingly vast array of newcomers and players from all parts?
In 2008 we counted about 8 manufacturers competing in the large east-cost markets of the US.
Last count, and depending on how you classify them, there may be close to 40!
Clearly, not all are created equal.
How to narrow the field and provide the best and most responsible options for clients?