Page D3.1 . 13 November 2002                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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    Berman on Ice

    by ArchitectureWeek

    Glass artist and designer Joel Berman has made the medium the message in his new showroom in Chicago's Merchandise Mart. The focal point of the interior is a 40-foot- (12-meter-) long, three-sided, tunnel-like glass sculpture that invites visitors to explore through touch the textured, layered, architectural cast glass that is Berman's trademark.

    The sculpture is lit, in part, by a computer-controlled LCD unit that can be programmed to create a variety of effects by washing the translucent glass in a changing, colored light, such as might be found in nightclubs or restaurants. Opposite the glass sculpture is a wall of tall, curved, rotating, and brightly colored glass pieces whose random reflections create visual complexity.

    To design the space, Berman worked with Rodrigo Segovia, a designer in Joel Berman Glass Studios Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia, and architect Tom Marquardt of the Chicago firm Design Collaborative. Marquardt wanted to create an environment that would not be a conventional showroom but a literal expression of Berman's design work. So rather than filling the space with rows of glass samples, the interior design is an installation of the product itself. Marquardt describes the sculpture as "one big gesture that holds the space, and the rest of the pieces work off of it." The glass sculpture is now a permanent showroom (#1173) in the Merchandise Mart.

    Berman had found limitations in traditional colored glass and developed his own process for coloring cast glass. He now holds the patent to an ambient air dry paint system that allows him to create unlimited variations of texture and color. To give designers a tool to facilitate experimentation with various combinations, he has produced the first of a planned series of "texturecolor guides."

    A texturecolor guide is a palette of 24 colors that can be matched to any of twelve cast-glass texture samples. The palette includes the greens and blues of natural glass plus shades of browns and grays, which are less commonly used in glass installations.



    ArchWeek Image

    A glass sculpture by Joel Berman has become a display showroom in Chicago's Merchandise Mart.
    Photo: Darwin K. Davidson, Ltd.

    ArchWeek Image

    Berman's work is characterized by texture and color in glass.
    Photo: Darwin K. Davidson, Ltd.

    ArchWeek Image

    Berman's showroom in the Merchandise Mart.
    Photo: Darwin K. Davidson, Ltd.

    ArchWeek Image

    A tunnel of glass invites exploration by touch.
    Photo: Darwin K. Davidson, Ltd.


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