Imagine standing inside a house with walls that look like they’re made of fabric, but they’re not made of cloth, or a space packed with a bright red or green color that looks metallic and doesn’t fade away. Many of these are possible due to the decoration of glass. Over the years, glass has been used in the decoration of buildings both inside and outside, as it is an inorganic material that needs little upkeep. The use of glass-ceramics has been primarily in the fields of construction, laboratory experiments and military operations for a long period of time, but has not been used in interior design. Due to the suitable characteristics of glass, for instance, subtle texture, vibrant colors and no adverse reactions, glass has been extensively used for a significant period, and there still seems to be a very bright future as far as the application of glass in interior design is concerned.
Glass decorations have been used in the interiors of rooms, elevators and washrooms to produce attracting surfaces that do not fade out and that are easy to clean. Architectures and designers must strive to ensure that they choose the best glass color for different rooms and locations in order to come up with proper decorations that the owners of buildings and all the occupants who use the rooms. This research investigates the background of using glass in the past along with the use of glass in interior design, its influence on society as well as future perspectives.
Key words: decorations, interior design, application, glass
Use of Glass in Interior Design
The light and thin characteristics of glass have enabled builders and designers to develop relatively higher buildings and achieve equipment length that could not have been achieved before. Some of the materials that have been substituted with glass are wooden surfaces and use of steel in the decorations of rooms. These materials are heavier than glass, which makes them unsuitable to achieving maximum height and potential weight in constructions and design. Glass surfaces provide an elegant view and a clear surface that is damage resistant and very easy to clean once dust lands on it. In the field of interior design, glass has been defined as an elegant shiny material with a beautiful and clean surface, and that helps designers to create an interior that is durable, damage resistant and with vibrant, elegant patterns and look (Morrison, 2016). This proposal aims at deeply examining the use of glass in interior design and coming up with a precise research analysis on the way glass has helped in the decoration of rooms and how the application of this knowledge has shaped the society. It will also examine the bright future that use of glass in interior design holds.
Glass, as defined by many scientists and designers, is a material that has an elegant physical appearance. Glass is believed to have some unique features that most of other decorating materials do not have; for example, the hard, smooth but strong surface that gives it not only a fine texture but also an elegant look. It provides an elegant lighting system due to its ability to reflect light and hence has been considered as the best material to be used in interior design. In the 1980s, a new technology was introduced of missing glass with ceramic to come up with glass ceramic, which is a material, which provides both the advantages of glass and those of ceramic and hence giving a more strong and hard surface that cannot only be used in interior design, but also as the outer surface of buildings. Because of its many advantages such as reliability, glass-ceramics has become a material that scientists and designers prefer in most of their operations. Due to its low cost, glass ceramics has gained much popularity than any other decorating material (Li, Hu, & Li, 2013).
Figure 1. The use of glass in modern-day office partitioning
History of Glass
The history of natural glass dates back many centuries ago; during the beginning of times, it, probably, formed as a result of rocks being exposed to extremely high temperatures and hence melted to form a transparent material, which is later processed to form glass. This effect is always caused by natural reactions on rocks such as volcanic eruptions and impact of meteor and meteorites. The origin of glass is not well determined, as some scientists say that glass is always formed in the moon and come down in the form of meteorites, while others say that it is in the Mitannian region of Mesopotamia that the first glass was found, where it had developed as a result of melting of rocks. This is believed to be as early as 5000 BC. Glass as an independent material is believed to be dating 4000 BC, whereby beads and vessels were the first glass objects, probably made in the 2500 BC. These objects were first found in Syria and in Egypt by 3000 BC.
Nobody is certain on the dates that glass came into existence, but glass blowing and use are believed to have started in about 100 BC, and the first glass windows were used about 100 BC. Glass has helped people over the years in different aspects of life. It is believed that a glass industry started during the Roman Empire, and, for the first time, glass-making became a significant endeavor in the lives of people across the globe. Today, glass industry has developed significantly in such way that glass has been used in chemical analysis and mixed with other substances to come up with more reliable and suitable forms, which are harder and resistant to scratches – for example, plate glass (Rasmussen, 2012). It has also been made harder by being developed into a variety of types, which not only favor the delicate nature of glass, but also increase the potential that glass has. These types include stained glass, ceramic glass, fiberglass, and refined glass (Beale, 2013).
Beads that were found in Egypt and Syria give clear evidence that glass was discovered a very long time ago, and that various styles were used to draw on it, which shows that glass production was not only a main activity in the ancient times, but was also linked to other economic activities. However, there was a limitation on what glass would do; but, thanks to the modern technology, the glass nowadays has unveiled full potential of glass as far as interior design is concerned. The activities of glass work range from blowing of glass and to making bowls and plates. The reason that made glass production remain limited for some decades is that it was confined to manual systems only. It was because of these manual systems that production of window panes and glass bowls remained small regarding quantity and quality. However, production of glass improved in the late 16th century, as a result of an increase in glass covered churches and the improved art of building mansions and houses.
Figure 2. Use of glass in ancient Egypt in interior design
Egyptians later invented the use of glass to make luxurious items, and after that, these items became among the most used items in Egypt. This art later spread to Europe, where new glass technologies were invented. Today, glass is used to make all kinds of expensive jewellery and items for decoration and functionality. In late 1600s, plate glass was invented, which was used in making tables and window panes for the first time in France. Later on, tempered glass was invented with a reason to decrease danger, when glass breaks. This was because tempered glass has a characteristic that made it break into tiny pieces instead of large dangerous pieces. In 1950s, float glass was invented; that meant glass that could be made into a flat sheet. Pilkington invented the float glass, when there was a very pressing need to come up with flat glass that could make window panes and surfaces (BritishGlass, 2016). All this time, glass remained a luxurious item that could only be afforded by the rich. Since then, glass technology has undergone some improvements.
Research Questions/ Aims/Objectives
What is glass and what is its relationship with interior design?
What are the main types of glass and what is the advantage of each of them over the natural glass?
What are the applications of glass technology in interior design and how has this application evolved over the years?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using glass over other materials that play the same role in interior design?
How has the use of glass in interior design influenced the society and the world in general socially and economically?
Aims and Objectives of the Study
The primary objective of this research is to identify the history of glass from its invention to the present and to study how glass has been applied in the field of interior design. This is by conducting an extensive study on the use of glass in interior design. Other specific objectives include:
To determine the way, in which use of glass in interior came into existence by examining the entire history of glass.
To explore the areas in interior design, where glass has been used and the outcome it has had on this field.
To understand the advantages, shortcomings and techniques of using glass technology in interior decorations.
Application of Glass in Interior Design
Glass technology has been applied in interior design in some ways. During ancient times, glass was never used in homes for fear of breakage, as it was very delicate. However, with the advancements in glass technology, contemporary designs in houses and offices mainly use hard glass. It gives a good look, because there has been the introduction of various types of glass – some hard and some delicate.
Types of Glass
This type of glass was invented around the 1950s. The reason it is referred to as black glass is because it has a dark look that is visible even without lighting. It reflects very little light projected on it. It appears in dark colors of green and blue as a result of iron oxide, which is its main constituent and hence has a strong feel, which is very less susceptible to breakage. This type of glass is used to make office equipment, for example, coffee tables and television stands, as it usually looks very professional. This type of glass has been used mostly in the United States with most of the furniture that are used in government offices and the White House being made from black glass.
Figure 3. Application of black glass in room partitioning
In ancient times, glass was used in the form of black tinted material with various color decorations to give an elegant outlook. Today, scientists and designers have tried to change this tinted glass into a colorless transparent glass to enable even a more elegant type of glass. It allows one to see through glass-made equipment. This type of glass is known as antique glass, which has been used to make interior items for example table tops and facings (Glass for Europe, 2014).
Figure 4. Example of an antique glass mirror design on a wall
This is a type of glass that is translucent. It is the one that allows light to pass through, but one cannot see through. It is made from frosted glass material, which has a cloudy look that makes furniture made out of it look beautiful. Some of the interior equipment made from frosted glass includes doors, table tops and windows.
Figure 5. Frosted glass used in making bathroom doors
This type of glass is made up of tiny glass rods packed up together. This is that latest type of glass in the interior design industry. It has a hard but good looking surface and is not very prone to breakage. For this reason, it is gaining much popularity in the world in making office and home furniture – for example, table tops and television stands.
Figure 6. Seating area made from fiberglass
Colored Structural Glass
This is a type of glass that has small glass particles that reflect light in different directions. It makes it look milky. It is made of heavy plate and is available in quite some colors. It has been used to make interior walls and table tops, as it also looks very professional and elegant
This type of glass is made up of tiny glass cells. It is very light such that it easily floats on water. For this reason, it is mainly used as a heat an insulator on buildings and pipes. Decorative glass is also another type of glass used to bring a new beautiful look into the interior of a building as it offers different colors and textures.
Examples of Glass Furniture
There are different glass furniture that is usually used in interior design. They range from wall partitions to ordinary office furniture for instance tables, shelves and stands. They include:
Glass tables are the most used form of glass furniture in the interior of rooms. Glass is usually placed on top of tables made of other material, for example, wood and metal to prevent them from getting damaged and to give them an elegant look. Glass is not like other materials, for example, wood that is not easily cleanable; glass can be easily cleaned with a cloth or a glass wiper. It is a great material, as it does not wear out or fade as it is used day by day. Glass has been used as table tops on steel furniture to replace timber and metal.
These are mirrors found on home or office furniture, for example, wardrobes, cabinets and bathrooms. Mirrors on furniture were first noted in the 13th century, but today, nearly all furniture has mirrors that add a feeling of class and esteem. Mirrors are added into furniture not only to be used as dressing and admiration items, but also to enhance class and style in a room (Beale, 2013). They give a clear view of the entire room, and this has lately been introduced into restaurants and reception areas in organizations.
Venice tried to put different types and styles of the mirror in office and home equipment in an attempt to come up with beautiful glass made equipment. It is to be used only for decorations and stands for bed lamps and flowers. Thus, technique spread to America and Europe, where various Venice made furniture were further developed – for example, dressing mirrors and lamp stands.
Glass shelves are used in various interior setups to create more space and enhance order in a room. They are used to place flowers and classy utensils. These shelves are in different sizes and shapes, according to the needs of the house owner and the available space in the room. Glass shelves are made of hard but elegant glass that is safe from breakage and that provides a firm base for heavy flower vases and some crockery (Gheorghe, 2011). Shelves are located in offices, kitchens and dining areas.
These are glass-made lighting systems that hang from the ceiling of offices and homes. They give an elegant look in rooms. They reflect the light fully, creating a well-lit room with a beautiful look and good feel. Chandeliers and glass lighters are affordable, classy and modern.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Glass in Interior Design
Furniture and interiors made of glass are easier to maintain than wooden furniture, as wooden surfaces are affected by termites, whereas glass is never affected.
The new and beautiful look of glass remains the same even after some years, unlike wood that fades and wears out with time.
Glass interiors are long lasting compared to other surfaces, and their transparent characteristic makes the room to look spacious and classy.
Glass once used can be reused to make other furniture and products and does not conduct electricity, hence less prone to electric shocks.
Glass can reflect light, which gives a room an elegant, expensive, classy and stylish look every time (Avetex Furniture, 2012).
Glass is heavier compared to plastic and also not as strong as plastic.
An attempt to make glass safer makes it break without the consent of the owner. This incurs additional costs and doubles the chance of injury.
Soon, all glass interiors will be required to be made of tempered glass to reduce the chance of injury once the glass breaks, but the process used in making tempered glass is very expensive.
Influence of Glass-Made Interiors on the Society
The use of glass in making interior furniture has greatly influenced the society, both socially and economically. By using glass made interiors, societies have developed as a sense of class and style. It has enhanced relations among designers, home owners and office occupants. Economically, designers have developed their careers and improved their standards of living as well as those of their employers (Denley, 2014). The glass industry has also grown significantly, hence leading to the entire world’s economic growth.
To sum up, glass creates a classy and elegant world to live in which is full of opportunities and attractive environments. It has created a suitable economy as far as designer careers, and production of glass is concerned. Designers should ensure they choose the best materials to use in interior environments and, as after that, create the best out of the chosen material. This attracts their employers and all other people, who see these creations, and thus increasing their business careers and incomes. The design industry also has received a major boost in technological advancement, as a result of glass use in interiors, and hence gained popularity so much. Due to this, many investors have developed an interest in this sector and are investing heavily in designs and interior looks. Due to this, the future of designers and interior design, in general, seem very bright.
Avetex Furniture. (2012). Modern Glass: Why glass furniture is stylish and easy. Modern Furniture. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://blog.avetexfurniture.com/2012/12/01/modern-glass-why-glass-furniture-is-stylish-and-easy/
Beale, L. (2013). How I Made It: Interior designer knows stars’ homes inside out. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/10/business/la-fi-himi-bullard-20130512
BritishGlass. (2016). History of Glass. About Glass. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://www.britglass.org.uk/history-of-glass
Denley, S. (2014). HGTV interior designer David Bromstad partners with Naturalizer. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://articles.latimes.com/2014/apr/09/news/la-ar-hgtv-interior-designer-david-bromstad-partners-naturalizer-20140407
Gheorghe, S.L. (2011). 5 Modern Glass Furniture Pieces with Simplistic Designs. Homedit. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://www.homedit.com/types-of-glass-furniture-you-can-introduce/
Glass for Europe. (2014). Main Types of Glass. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from http://www.glassforeurope.com/en/products/main-types-of-glass.php#top
Li, B., Hu, W.P., & Li, Q.L. (2013). Application of Glass-Ceramic in Interior Design. Advanced Materials Research, 627, 655-658.
Morrison, C. (2016). Glass is Elevating Interior Design. Design & Application. Retrieved on April 17, 2017 from https://www.corning.com/ru/ru/innovation/the-glass-age/design-and-application/glass-is-elevating-interior-design-to-the-next-level.html
Rasmussen, S.C. (2012). How Glass Changed the World. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 85. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-28183-9