Making A Custom Glass Countertop with Clients…A Case Study from The Acqua Cafe.
We solve a big problem for our high-end residential and commercial Custom Glass Countertop clients. Many are only interested in original works of art for their homes …not reprints or copies. They have creative ideas and want them expressed in their decor…right down to the level of details in their glass countertop texture.
Our high-quality glass countertops are too expensive to not have fun shopping for!
This blog is the first of several case studies presented to help you understand how our clients creative input drives the design process at Downing Designs.
Arlene Desiderio was opening her newest restaurant: “Acqua Cafe” in West Palm Beach, Fl. Like a true artiste, every detail is curated and expresses her charming touch: from the restaurant design, menu, food prep, staff selections, advertising…everything. By infusing her restaurant design with her personality (and boundless energy), the impact is seen even in the finest details. She has reasons. Past missteps have led her to trust her own instincts vs. those of others. She is successful because she understands what she and her customers want, and plans every element to meet that demand.
We were contacted by her Architect, Evans Howard from Alonso and Associates in West Palm Beach, and he was rightly concerned that she would be difficult to please because she is so hands-on in every aspect of the Acqua Cafe design concept. She has designed and operated several other successful restaurants. The stakes are high. Glass countertops are too expensive… and to not get what she wants would be a decision she would have to live with for the duration of this restaurant operation. After we described our process for empowering clients by integrating their ideas with our own, I suggested that we have Arlene visit our facility to participate in the design process. Evans agreed and was delighted with this approach. The Lady is paying for it…. The Lady will get what she wants. Pretty simple. We set up a time and Arlene drove 4 hours from WPB to Tampa to incorporate her design ideas and watch as they came to life.
This approach has worked very well for us. Remote clients also can participate interactively as we set a time where the glass oven and sand bed is being sculpted. We send pictures during the process and consult with the client to assure them that their ideas are being integrated and executed as best we can.
Making Arlene’s Custom Glass Countertop.
We start with an initial series of digital sketches of the glass texture to map well with the bar “L” shape in her restaurant. We refine these sketches until the final version is selected for production.
The magic begins in our kilns where we measure to make a scaled-up version of the selected design…”Kiln Carving” in the sand. Much like a water colorist, we start with a light outline, then carve our sand bed deeper to refine the design with a series of brush strokes to give us the desired texture. After watching how I carved the sand, Arlene was game to cut a few swirls herself.
We then stack low iron glass sheets to make 1.5” thick glass countertops. When illuminated with natural light or enhanced with our LED’s (8,000,000 colors!) it can take on any color you desire. We offer professional and extensive lighting consultation as part of our design service to assure you that your glass countertop or glass high bar will be beautifully illuminated, and we discuss the many options offered.
The kiln is heated to over 1400 degrees Fahrenheit…annealed…cooled. After 5 days, the glass has been fully fused, and has taken on the texture of the kiln carved sand bed. We then use our CNC waterjet and/or diamond saw for precise cutting to size. Extensive hand polishing takes our glass to an optically pure lens quality edge. This is a critical Downing Designs quality distinction which we have elaborated upon before.
We also round over all corners and edges to make sure that the glass is comfortable when you are leaning against it, as well as chip resistant when people hit it with hard objects such as wine bottles, elbows and chairs. Arlene’s Glass is back painted, LEDs attached with stainless steel cover. We sandblasted her Acqua Cafe logo on the glass to further personalize the design.
The result is spectacular. The pictures don’t do justice to the effect this BIG beautiful, glowing bar top has upon its patrons. It’s calming. After a long day, what could be better than to have the perfectly soft, upward glow wash over your cocktails, food, and your significant other. We have described this “Time Machine” effect of this glow previously. It’s real. It’s wonderful. It’s powerful at making everyone look younger. My wrinkles become less obvious. Come see for yourself.
It was a pleasure to be invited with my Mom (Barbara Downing) to dine with Arlene. Fabulous interesting food and staff! Cool Countertop!
We think that spending a lot of money on an expensive stamped, prefabricated piece of glass is just silly, when for the same amount of money you can have an original design, contoured to fit your kitchen or bath room flow. If you want to have an original, Rockstar bar for your restaurant, you don’t do it by covering old Beatles songs.
Give us a call to discuss your ideas and we will develop for you a unified design plan for your layout, complete in all respects with lighting, and glass countertop textural flow. You don’t need to be a wine expert to know that anything pairs well with a Downing Designs glass countertop at the Acqua Cafe, especially when infused with Arlene’s personality…
Thanks to Arlene Desiderio of the Acqua Cafe for letting me write about how much fun I had with her designing her custom glass countertops.