“With Transparency Comes Responsibility”
Safety Markers For Glass Are Required By Code – Learn How To Make Them Complement The Décor.
That’s gonna leave a mark.
“One hectic afternoon, while rushing back to my office, not exactly paying attention to where I was walking, my path was abruptly cut short. After a quick evaluation to make sure that my nose wasn’t broken and there was no blood, I slowly scanned the area to see if anybody had just noticed me walking into a glass panel.”
Those of us familiar with office spaces divided up like a maze by large glass partitions, and conference rooms resembling fish bowls, probably have more than one story like that. Or, about watching some other unfortunate soul bounce back in mid stride – and after we make sure they’re okay, had to hide a little chuckle.
Although a slight bump on the noggin might be embarrassing, and unintentionally entertaining, a hard collision with glass can cause serious injuries – and that’s not funny.
Glass is wonderful!
It opens up a space and spreads the light.
So it’s no wonder that modern office design uses a lot of glass.
Modular glass partition systems make it cost-effective to create separation, and boundaries, in open office spaces. The ability to reconfigure glass sections, eliminates the time and expense of modifying permanent walls to change the layout. The more glass the better.
Seeing Through Glass Walls.
- Being able to see more of the space makes the room appear larger.
- Removing visual boundaries let’s people see what’s going on, and feel less isolated.
Glass lets the light shine through.
“If filling the room with open space is the main course, then illuminating it with ambient light must be the appetizer.”
Lighting has so much to do with setting the mood, and glass helps disburse soft light.
So if adding graphics on glass, or privacy is required, than a solution that won’t sacrifice the light, is ideal. Using a translucent material on the glass will allow light to pass through.
Sometimes you have to look out for those, who don’t lookout for themselves.
Out of sight – in your face
When people are walking around quickly, or distracted, they may not notice that there’s a transparent barrier – That is, until it’s too late.
The solution – Make people notice the glass.
Sounds like a good idea, right? It’s also the law.
Most states require specific safety markings on glass by code. Although the code specifies sizes and placement for these markings, it doesn’t dictate how the design should look.
How does being up to code make glass safe?
Simple. Distraction (Safety) Markings are designed to make glass noticeable. Adding the specified amount of visible distraction, in the right places, helps people see the glass. Reducing the risk of them walking into it.
The code specifies markings at 60” and 30” to accommodate a standing adult as well as children and those using wheelchairs. The amount of coverage required, can be broken up into small pieces, making creative designs possible.
Too Little – Too Late
What happens with improper safety markings, or if none are used at all?
Whether an architect bends the code to achieve a desired look, or a contractor neglects to install proper markings in a timely fashion, it’s dangerous to ignore requirements, or to choose aesthetics over safety.
If a marker is too small, or if the spacing between them is too large, there may not be enough visible distraction to keep a person from noticing the glass.
Get Up To Code – AND Look Good
Meeting code requirements is great, but architects and designers put the glass there for a reason. They want to create an open environment that makes a space look large and airy.
Markings on all of the glass is going to affect the look of the space. So make them part of the design process.
Aesthetics, and satisfying basic safety code requirements, aren’t always easy to envision. Architects and Designers, work hard to design every aspect of how a space will come together. Having safety markers, can sometimes be seen as a burden.
So having markers that meet code, and won’t take away from the look they have designed, can be a valuable asset.
“Fortunately, there’s nothing in the code that says safety markers have to be plain and boring.”
In fact, once the code is understood, it’s possible to design some very creative options and still meet all the specifications.
Designing For Glass
Glass can be used to bring some decoration to a space. Using repeated patterns of shapes, or graphic designs on glass, can complement the other design elements being used in the décor.
“Where there’s a lot of glass, there’s a lot of opportunity to add an accent decoration that can be carried throughout the entire space.”
Adding the right design on glass can be challenging.
Sometimes architects and designers want to do something more creative on the glass, but aren’t exactly sure what is possible. Usually because designing for large areas of glass panels requires a different approach than working with solid design elements.
Having a great design concept is one thing, figuring out how to get it to work on glass is another.
Finding the right balance of size, and spacing of shapes on glass panels is essential. Choosing the right amount of coverage and the appropriate material is also important.
Interpreting the code, sets the guidelines, an experienced designer creates a nice appearance.
How to make safety markers look good?
A design element that interacts with the light, can add translucent decoration to glass.
More Than Just Lines
Safety markers can range from basic stripes to complex graphics. They can be designed to incorporate the flow of the other lines and shapes being used in a space. Accent fixtures and furniture design, and pickup from the overall design motif of the décor.
Shapes and Logos
Repeating simple geometric shapes, or symbols from a company logo, can be used as an effective marker. Combining varying size frosted bands also creates safety and adds privacy. Cutting clear designs out of solid frosted areas is a way to add art, and branding, to large spans of glass.
To personalize a commercial space, add designs that contain graphics that have a specific meaning to the organization. Images, words and logos can be combined with shapes and lines.
Words and Quotes
Inspirational quotes, and company slogans, can set the tone and attitude of a room, and convey the company image.
Think outside the box (or just plain stripe), just about any design can be modified to work on glass. Done the right way it will provide safety and create a great look.
Choose the Right Look
Consider using designs that look like etched glass. They can add a classy and elegant look that interacts with the light. Although cut sign vinyl will work, it doesn’t interact with light, like translucent etch film.
Is getting etched, best?
The look of etched glass has such an appeal, because it is only a subtle change in the appearance of glass, and its translucency plays nicely with the light. Designs become part of the glass and can be just a gentle accent, or make a bold statement.
Because the look of etched glass has virtually no color, its light frosted gray appearance goes well in almost any color scheme. It also complements the look of metal frames and hardware.
No sand or acid here!
30 years ago the only way to have the look of etched glass, was to actually etch the glass. It took a long time, made a big mess. And was expensive.
Sandblasting and acid etching glass, are still used for certain types of projects, but precision cut Faux Etch Film, is most commonly used for large commercial glass projects.
Adding safety markers or privacy bands to hundreds of linear feet of glass panels and doors, is fast and cost effective using films. It can be applied onsite with no mess or damage to other finishes.
If adding a design that looks like it’s part of the glass, and interacts with light, is desired – then the look of etching may be the best choice.
Can textures be added to glass?
For a look other than etching, there are plenty of decorative film options. Some you can even feel.
A wide variety of decorative window films are available to simulate textures and patterns. They can provide privacy and decoration. The look of expensive textured glass can be applied to clear glass panels in bands, or cover entire sections.
For example, adding a band of “Rain Glass” spanning across all panels of a glass conference room, can provide safety and privacy with an elegant flair.
Combining different films, creates interesting effects.
Using solid frost film over a cut graphic, provides safety, branding and privacy, and still lets the light shine through.
Make a statement
Use graphics and branding on glass
Logos on glass reinforce a company’s image and brand.
“If providing safety and privacy on glass is being done anyway, why not use it to display your identity to visitors?”
Reception areas, entranceways and conference rooms make an important first impression to your visitors. Your glass can be a big part of that initial statement. In retail, storefronts and glass partitions provide large areas that can be used for subtle brand reinforcement.
Using a creative design approach to incorporate company logos into safety markers and privacy films, can create a distinctive look, and add some flair to commercial glass.
Choose the right design partner for your glass project.
After a design concept has been created, or if help is needed to come up with the concept, working with someone that understands how to design for glass will make the process much easier.
A company that creates designs specifically for glass, will know the best options to fulfill a project’s requirements. They will be able to offer advice and suggestions, and their experience will help avoid potential spacing and coverage issues. Identifying them in the planning stages, instead of in the field.
A good design partner should also be an expert at fabrication and installation. Understanding how to make and install a design, will ensure that a concept will work on actual glass. Seams and all.
If you are looking to work with a company that specializes in designing for glass, and can get you up to code and make it look great, please get in touch with us.
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