Robert A.M. Stern’s Architectural Glass for Bendheim

Iconic architect and designer Robert A.M. Stern is outspoken about his contention that what goes on inside a building is just as important as the exterior. The collection of library carrels for David Edward is the proverbial money for Stern’s mouth, since the handsome furnishings are designed to have pronounced aesthetic affinities with the very libraries (each built by Stern) that they inhabit. The concept begs the question: what on earth must the structures housing Aria, Merletto, Staccato, and Trattini—the four pieces comprising Stern’s foray into architecturally etched glass–look like?

Aria. Designed by Robert A.M Stern for Bendheim.

Produced in collaboration with OmniDécor and manufacturer Bendheim, the decorative pieces illustrate Stern’s belief that “Glass technology has achieved a new level of sophistication… making it possible to step beyond high performance with an exploration of patterning, translucency, and reflectivity.” Though Stern had to have been aware of the mellifluous quality of the chosen names, they weren’t chosen for musicality alone—each is a metaphorically-laden moniker that has a complex association to the appearance of the glass: “Aria” (translated as “air” or “solo performance” in music) is a profusion of pencil-thin white vertical lines in translucent glass, creating an effect of subtle and tantalizing obfuscation; “Merletto” (meaning “lace,” but also referencing the glass-blowing feature of a lattice network of white threads) evokes the tell-tale gossamer signature of a busy spider; “Staccato” (signifying a punctuated or abrupt method of playing musical notes) has a Pointillist aesthetic, with a vaporous mural created from white dots of different size and intensity; and “Trattini” (“hyphen” or “dash”) is reminiscent of early visual conceptions of information technology, with uniform rows of line segments suggesting the mysterious legions of zeros and ones that constitute computer speak.


Merletto. Designed by Robert A.M Stern for Bendheim.


Trattini. Designed by Robert A.M Stern for Bendheim.


Staccato. Designed by Robert A.M Stern for Bendheim.

The collection was conceived for a minimal environmental impact: made of low-iron float glass “utilizing sophisticated production methods with particular attention to the strictest environmental protection standards,” use of the glass can gain you LEED points for enhancing energy performance and/or optimizing daylight and interior views. Each style comes in one of three standard thicknesses: 1/4”, 3/8”, or 1/2”, with sheet sizes as large as 88.5” by 126”. Custom options are also available, including different thicknesses and colors (bronze, amber, blue, or green).

Like Joel Berman’s Salt and ArchDeco’s Sumiglass Series, Stern’s Bendheim collection is sure to precipitate a cascade of innovative applications. Appropriate for “walls, doors, windows, shower enclosures, and other decorative features,” the pieces “lend a strong sense of dimensionality and movement, allowing it to dynamically interact with light and surrounding design elements.”

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