Talking with Bernard Lax, President/Founder
of Pulp Studio
It was by accident that, in 1994, Bernard Lax, president and founder of
Pulp Studio found himself in the decorative glass industry. He and his
wife were building a house and wanted to integrate an Asian flair so decided
to make an entry that looked like a large shoji screen.
“My interest in construction led me to learn enough about laminating that
I also experimented with using rice papers inside the glass as a substrate.,”
Lax says. “These first experiments were the foundation for the growth
of our business back in the early 1990s.”
And prior to starting Pulp Studio, they had both worked in the fashion
industry for more than 20 years. “Pulp Studio creates décor for
architectural uses, the same way we used to create décor for the
body,” he explains. “We see it in almost the same light and our logistical
and manufacturing abilities lie in the roots of our apparel experiences.”
Lax took some time to talk with DG magazine about the decorative glass
industry, some of its challenges and how the market is changing.
DG: What are the biggest challenges this industry faces?
BL: Despite our own domestic economic
issues, imports from China are the biggest obstacle. The idea that decision
makers in this country fail to understand the economic impact of buying
offshore will ultimately take its toll. If these same people put the money
of their purchases back into the hands of our population, we would see
a much better return on investment of that dollar within our economy than
exporting that dollar with zero return. It is a basic misconception that
they get cheaper pricing because they fail to realize that the exporting
of these dollars ultimately leads to higher taxes and costs for our daily
DG: How has this industry changed since you started in it?
BL: The decorative glass industry
was almost embryonic when we started so it was easier then for us than
today. The largest problem I see is with many companies who have entered
the decorative market that do not have the entire package of skills necessary
to be reliable resources. The decorative market is all painted with the
same brush by the general contracting community. When there are bad apples
[general contractors] tend to see us all as bad apples and work harder
to eliminate the decorative products from the projects in order to ensure
their own performance in completing the project.
DG: When looking at new decorative concepts, what do you think
are features architects are looking for?
BL: Designers are always looking for
how your product fits in with the rest of their design without overpowering
the other material selections. This is one of the basic concepts that
many decorative glass companies do not consider. At our company we just
create ideas, but if our ideas do not blend into the general scheme it
doesn’t matter how cool it is …
DG: What are some of the most common ways you see decorative glass
used in interior applications?
BL: For me that is a difficult question
because of the vast array of glass types …however the most common is for
wall partitioning. This application type seems to encompass all of the
glass types, whereas something like back painted glass is always just
used for wall applications.
DG: What are the main differences when it comes to creating a decorative
product for an exterior compared to an interior application?
BL: The most obvious is the performance
of the material as it relates to the elements and sun. There are many
companies that have entered into the specialty glass business with little
concern for the performance characteristics of the materials they produce.
On the outside we have to concern ourselves with technical performance
characteristics and sustainability for those products that we make using
color. A great example of this is in the new area of graphic imaging on
glass. Our test data that supports our fading criteria is essential in
presenting and providing a credible product. It takes us longer to get
these products into production because we spend a great deal of time understanding
them before we start selling them. When we work outdoors we have to remind
ourselves what are our liabilities under our warranty and feel confident
that what we produce will not be tomorrow’s nightmare.
DG: What are the biggest trends right now?
BL: The use of color coated glass
is definitely a trend, however, the industry needs to be more prudent
in moving to only water-based coatings. Graphic imaging is being used
more regularly, but let the buyer beware. Not every graphic process is
designed for architectural use, despite what a salesman says.
DG: Are there decorative glass fabrication types that you’ve not
yet worked with that you’d like to?
BL: We will be introducing some new
fused products next year that I am looking forward to, but I think the
thing that is more exciting is our introduction of new lighting systems
that are specifically designed to be used with our glass products.
DG: Describe the most innovative decorative project on which you’ve
BL: Once I made a large piece of glass
for a computer chip company. We actually fabricated tiny pieces of glass
to resemble electronic components and then chemically bonded them to a
large sheet so that it looked like a giant circuit board
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