Though its manufacture has slowed in the United Sates, glass embedded with chicken wire has long been regarded, particularly in the world of industry, for its endurance and practicality. Its strength made it an ideal safeguard. It became a staple in factories, where its sturdy, shatter-proof quality kept workers inside safe and insulated from outdoor conditions.
The strength of the material also bestows it another prized characteristic: versatility. The sheer variety of texture with which it can be imbued lends itself to a gradient of design function and aesthetic. This texturing creates the effect of a mosaic: a stained glass window refracting pattern rather than color.
OGT has been salvaging this glass for years and in particular acquired a lot of the pebbled chicken wire glass, recently incorporated into a furniture design project, from a large factory in central Pennsylvania. In its time it was used as a skylight for the industrial powerhouse. It filtered in natural sunlight from a height of eighty feet above the factory floor. Its opacity brings to mind both the billowing haze characteristic of the industrial area, and the subtle beauty of a soft sunbeam.
Turn the clock nearly a century forward, and that same pebbled, chicken-wired glass is salvaged, restored, and put to use in a contemporary New York City loft.
Enter Union Studio, a small business based in Berkley, California, whose specialty lies in interior design and furniture craftsmanship. Each furniture piece, designed by company founder Matthew Bear, is custom built and crafted with utmost quality in mind.
For a company with such a claim to the aesthetic of the handmade, there is much thought, naturally, that goes into the material choice of each piece. And this is where the multi-purpose nature of the factory-recovered glass comes into play.
The panels were first put to use for the sliding doors of this shower. Here, the opacity of the pebbled texture offers the necessary privacy, and the embedded wiring provides the perfect design compliment to the metallic framing and shower handles.
Vintage glass paneling between these door frames bridges one room to the next. The translucency of glass gives the loft a cohesive sense of space. Meanwhile, the texture simulates a patterned fog just thick enough to isolate each room from the other.
The metallic plating of the glass gives even this cabinet an industrial embellishment that is right at home in with the rest of this kitchen area.
It’s remarkable to think that one piece of glass could branch out in so diverse a manner from its original purpose. What started out as distant skylight now becomes three distinct statement pieces that add cohesion and unification to the space through their shared material.