Glass and Image
With large format, hi-res photography a staple of today's interiors, one design studio finds the secret to stunning depth and color.
Architects often take glass for granted, reducing its role to the purely functional: bringing in outside views, letting light in, keeping inclement weather out. But one architectural design studio, the Detroit-based IMAGIO Glass Design, with a specialization in digital printing, is making this ubiquitous material the aesthetic focal point. Working in collaboration with AGC Glass North America, IMAGIO has become a go-to for commercial and residential partition printing and installation.
As advances in digital photography have made high quality, high resolution images the norm, the design world is taking notice by finding innovative ways to integrate large scale imagery into the architectural landscape. “Eighty percent of what we print these days is photographs” says Mike Trego, CEO of IMAGIO. This growing trend has resulted in a dramatic increase in the volume and variety of IMAGIO’s work.
Since glass enhances the image’s vibrancy rather than muting it, the quality of the glass is essential. To hit the mark, IMAGIO works exclusively with AGC, the world’s largest flat glass manufacturer, whether they are installing a large scale commercial graphic or a residential kitchen backsplash. The product IMAGIO most relies on is Clearvision, a low-iron glass from AGC which delivers 92 percent light transmission at 3mm, a rating that’s higher than any other glass product currently on the market. “Clearvision offers exceptional clarity, a virtually colorless appearance, and a high color rendering index that allows IMAGIO images to appear vibrant and dynamic,” says Elizabeth Cotton, product manager of interior and specialty products at AGC.
While other glass products tend to take on a greenish hue, Clearvision has solved this technical problem by virtually eliminating the tint thanks to its low-iron composition, letting IMAGIO’s prints appear more true. “Color is everything with our customers” says Paula Badalamente, president of IMAGIO. “When we work with designers and architects, it’s critical to have the clarity provided by AGC Clearvision glass.”
IMAGIO’s process starts with a client who will either provide an image or commission a design. The graphic is then printed onto what’s known in the trade as the “second surface” (or back side) of the glass, using an adhesive that ensures permanence by changing the molecular structure of the glass. The resulting image can be opaque or translucent and lit from the back or sides, depending on the design objectives.
Recently, healthcare facilities have discovered the benefits of printed glass. Glass is, by nature, an easy to clean material. It does not need to be sealed like some stone or ceramic surfaces to become fully cleanable. Where they once would have used a tile surface, hospitals and clinics are now turning to interior glass surfaces and partitions. For their installations in healthcare facilities, IMAGIO collaborates regularly with the photographer Monte Nagler, who makes artwork that is intended to be calming and healing.
The stress-relieving effect of these images, combined with the hygienic nature of the medium make printed glass an ideal surface for these environments. “We can create any atmosphere, whether your aesthetic is contemporary or traditional,” says Trego.“We’re bringing your vision to life, so if you can imagine it, we can do it.”