Stained Glass is Having a Modern Moment

The words “stained glass” are certainly evocative, instantly bringing colourful images to the mind’s eye. But this unique and ancient medium has come a long way in recent years, and there is far more to stained glass than church windows or Tiffany lamps. Sure, many churches or houses of worship do incorporate stained glass, such as Gaudi’s famous church, the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, or the incredible Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran (pictured above). 

But outside places of worship, stained glass is having something of a modern moment. Many artisans today are incorporating coloured glass into their works, be it large-scale installations or small lanterns or wall-hangings suitable for contemporary homes.

Here in Los Angeles, Judson Studios is a small, family-run business that has been making stained glass windows for over 117 years. They have done their share of church windows during that time, but some recent projects have enabled them to explore more modern applications of stained glass, such as the windows at Fig House, a bespoke event venue in Highland Park, Los Angeles.

Similarly, Commune’s designers chose a striking stained glass design by Los Angeles-based artist Steve Haltermann for their work on the new Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, and the effect is truly striking. The wall of geometric stained glass separates the main lobby dining area from a counter where guests can often be seen checking their email. Its clean lines and simple colour scheme is somehow at once modern yet evocative of the Art Deco era, which is fitting with the storied history of the United Artists building in which the hotel is housed. The abstract panels also subtly reference the building’s past life as a Christian ministry center.

As a designer, one of my favourite places for glass is Pulp Studio — it’s an amazing source for decorative glass. It’s an appointment-only place, but their expertise and array of architectural glass products makes a visit highly worthwhile. From laminated glass to their so-called “fiber series” that infuses glass with different textures, colours, graphics and even photographic elements, there are myriad ways glass can be used to add colour and texture to buildings and interiors. They can also increase or decrease the level of opacity or transparency of glass, which can produce some wonderful architectural effects.

Of course, it can be a lengthy and expensive process to incorporate stained glass into a residential property. But smaller elements, such as colourful glass wall hangings by artist David Scheid, can be used by those wanting the dramatic effect of stained glass, minus the hefty price tag!

Here are a few more images to help us with this worship at the brightly-coloured altar of stained glass — and to allow us all to relish in the thoroughly modern moment stained glass is having.



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