Clearly Different: A Glass Artist’s Take on Art and Architecture
Vancouver-based Joel Berman is an artist, designer, and consultant in product design and commercial and public art. His innovative and engaging work has been exhibited around the world for 30 years, and he also manages Berman Glass Editions, which provides textured glass for interior and exterior applications in architecture.
Tell us about your work! How does your diverse collection of experiences, education, and travels influence the art you create?
My work has been about pushing boundaries in the world of glass as a craft, its relationship to architecture, and the users of the space it inhabits. This work has taken me throughout the globe, teaming with great designers and clients in site-specific situations to make a truly collaborative body of work. My education in glass design and art has been a collection of tribal knowledge, technique, and evolving technology.
Creativity and innovation have been integral to your success. What’s something you do to keep that energy flowing?
COVID-19 has been uniquely challenging on so many levels. Persistence and leaving no stone unturned have kept my energy flowing forward.
Where do you think design industries still have room to grow? What technologies or concepts are you interested in seeing develop further?
Speaking in terms of glass primarily, and the world of makers, we need to make room for younger makers to learn and experiment. At the same time, architects and designers need to create space in their projects for this work.
Are there any past projects that hold a particularly special place in your heart? If so, what sets them apart from others?
There are several “first” projects: The cable-suspended Ellisse 3D glass wall for Morrison Foerster in New York, the Inside Ice sculpture at JR Richardson International Airport in Winnipeg, the cable-suspended glass sculpture at the former Air Canada lounge in Toronto (no longer installed), and Alder Canopy in Greater Vancouver, featuring Corten Steel and glass.
Your creations speak for themselves. What material properties of glass inspired you to dedicate your life to it?
The magical experience of light through glass is what caught me as a child. Light is never the same day to day. The experience of light through glass and its effect on the viewer is a wonderful experience.
What does Joel Berman do for fun? Do you have any unique or unexpected hobbies?
Public art is my hobby at the moment, and my bucket list desire is to relearn the piano.
As official material nerds, we must ask…are there any other materials that you find particularly fascinating to work with?
Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Corten Steel in a public art setting. At the moment, I have a few public art competition proposals using Corten Steel and interactive LEDs. One is currently shortlisted.
Is there anything new coming from Joel Berman Design? We’d love to plug a project or two!
Yes, indeed. Coming in August is a yet-unnamed public art steel and glass sculpture for a Vancouver lobby, as well as a modular room divider using, glass, metal, wood, felt and, of course, Durasein components.