Through the looking glass...

Through the looking glass...


Through the looking glass...

Glass is a versatile material and has come to occupy all three fundamental surfaces in a home: floors, walls and the ceiling. It is a great way to let light in and bring a sense of drama to your interiors. Bindu Gopal Rao explores ways in which glass is being used.

As a material that can conceal as much as it can reveal, glass wins hands down. Used extensively in the architecture of homes, glass is a great way to bring in light and add a sense of drama to the interiors of a home. As one of the oldest fabricated materials known to mankind, glass has been used in buildings for centuries. Being a smart, adaptable and versatile material, it offers itself to endless possibilities both in terms of design and functionality across exterior and interior applications.

A distinct touch

The versatility of glass and its uniqueness is beyond compare, if properly used. Within the confines of a home, glass has come to occupy all the three fundamental surfaces : floor, walls and ceiling.

“Glass has come a very long way from being used just as window panes to varied adaptations such as wall embellishments, decor-enhancers, furniture and utility fixtures such as shelves. Glass has been found to be an effective material not only to harness natural light in an internal environment but also in the outdoors such as a the facade and the garden. Glass not just allows natural light into a home but also ensures easy and economical regular maintenance, cutting out unwanted noise from the outdoors, cool interiors in a warm climate,  high-quality of acoustics and protection (such as bullet-proofing),” explains Girish H R, CEO, Vakil Housing Development Corporation.

Aditya Bhutani, Director and COO, AIS Glasxperts stresses the importance of glass in terms of aesthetics. “Glass enhances the visual appeal of living spaces and adds a touch of modernity even with minimal usage. Whether you use glass splashbacks in your bathroom or glass mosaic tiles for your living room, the effect created would definitely be wow-worthy.”

Glass not only enhances aesthetics, but has other properties which can be used innovatively in house construction. Using glass in the interiors saves space and gives a sense of openness. Moreover, glass cladding in the house fulfills the functional requirement of lighting, heat retention and energy saving. “Being a bad conductor of heat, glass saves energy in air conditioning of the building and is also an excellent material for thermal insulation, water proofing and energy conservation. No extra design is required for slabs while making partitions on upper floors as glass is light in weight. At our project The Empyrean in Bangalore, use of glass not only gives a sense of openness but also makes one feel a part of acres of green and open spaces no matter where one is inside the house,” says Iranaeus Vincent, COO, FIRE Capital & Astrum Homes.

Decor ideas

Accessorise your furniture with glass, or even better, opt for glass furniture: tables, chairs, mirrors, the list of glass furniture is endless. Even a simple addition like a contemporary glass centre table will change the look and feel of your balcony or living room. Glass table tops in dining rooms add sophistication to your interiors. “Because glass goes with anything, you can also pair it with wood, leather, metals or any other material to suit your aesthetics or use traditional and ornate lines to bring these materials together beautifully in your furniture. Make your home a fine example of eco-friendliness. Glass being a recyclable, reusable and non-toxic material provides solar control and thermal insulation, helping you conserve energy. Furthermore, you can now, thanks to new technologies and fabrication techniques, use glass to either retain heat or deflect it out of conditioned spaces,” says Bhutani.

Prudent use of glass can bring about a total change of ambience in your home. Compact spaces can be made to look spacious. Appropriate use of coloured glass acts as a tremendous mood-enhancer. The CEO of Vakil Housing, Girish, explains how glass can be used effectively in the study rooms of children, for instance. “Low partitions, say 4 'high, can be constructed in between study tables using glass blocks which ensure that there is a psychological privacy yet at the same time the sibling-bonding, like the earlier years, is not disturbed. Similarly, with the concept of an open kitchen having become almost a default choice for home owners, a low-glass partition between the dining and living areas ensures privacy even as it doesn’t cut down the large-size feel of the living room,” says Girish.

Glass goes beyond architecture to become art, using textures, patterns, colours, and techniques to define and highlight individual tastes. Glass can incorporate rice paper for a softer look, can be mouth-blown for a more authentic, vintage feel, or be rolled for a three-dimensional look.

It can be practical, like sleek, contemporary frosted glass that leaves no fingerprints behind.  Glass can be patterned, laminated, frosted or acid-etched, offering varying degrees of translucency for privacy and design.

“Glass can transform space with colour, light, and pattern. Used indoors as insets or panels, art glass allows light to penetrate interior spaces while capturing the eye with colours, patterns, and laminates that make an architectural statement,” says Vincent.

Revolving doors, canopies, winter gardens, conservatories and entrances are some advancements made in the field of glass. Interior architecture is being transformed and staircases, elevated walkways and even traditional walls use glass.

Glass and glass products are replacing traditional materials like wood, Plaster of Paris and metal. For example, in a staircase, not only the balusters but also the hand rail and sometimes even treads (i.e. steps) of a staircase are made of toughened and durable glass with different colour tones.

Skylights are becoming wider and are being covered with coloured and crinkled glass thereby giving a grand appearance to the ceiling. Glass has become so very versatile today that its usage is limited only by one’s own imagination and creativity. The advancement in glass-technology has reached a stage where, with the flip of a switch, a 100 per cent transparent glass can become 100 per cent opaque. AIS Integrated Blinds’ glass unit is a best-of-both-worlds innovation, where you get both the Insulating Glass Unit (IGU) and automatic motorised blinds in one single, aesthetic form factor. The blinds are sandwiched between the glass, which in turn is encased in a white uPVC sliding system to deliver both privacy and aesthetic appeal at the same time. Depending on their design, or choice of colour, the blinds are available in various shades, and in terms of usage, these can be used for doors, in balconies, bedrooms and cabins.

Custom glass partitions are also available in the form of glass door panels, sliding doors and permanent walls available in a newer and broader array of colours and ornaments.

Safety matters

Though glass and glass-centric embellishments enhance the aesthetics, feel and comfort in home-environment, it is imperative to note that one has to be exceptionally careful and aware using it. Safety has to be given the top priority.

Shruti Choudhuri, Director, Soul Space Projects Limited offers some innovative tips on using glass, to create a soft ambience in a dining room frosted underlit glass can be used as the dining table. Stained glass, she points out, can be used on staircases to filter in diffused and coloured light that can form shapes and shadows on the walls and floors.

Glass bricks can be used to create a division between rooms and yet not create a harsh demarcation like grit blocks or any opaque material.

This creates drama and an element of suspense. Sliding glass partitions can be used in smaller spaces to create modular spaces which can be flexible and moved around as per requirement. Glass sliding or folding doors looking out towards gardens and terraces can add the feeling of space and character to any house.”

Go ahead and be a glass apart!