Scheduled to open this July, Rockwell Group's latest creation for NOBU Restaurant on 57th st. NYC features product by Livinglass, a California company specializing in the safety-rated laminated architectural glass that captures a variety of organic materials within the interlayer.
The Rockwell group, long renowned for its inventive and luxurious use of materials, called Livinglass in the spring of 2005 with a challenge. The design for the new Nobu 57th street's private dining room was a grotto of black terrazzo densely patterned with embedded rings of crosscut bamboo. Rockwell wanted to create a variation on the theme in real laminated glass. But because of its porosity, bamboo was formidably difficult to encapsulate. Having collaborated with Livinglass on developing highly customized materials for other projects, the Rockwell designers asked founders, Mike Skura and Rachel Hoffman, to tackle the technical challenges of the temperamental material.
After weeks of experimentation, Livinglass came up with a multi-step preparation process which eliminated the appearance of bubbles of air released from the cellulose capsules of the bamboo. The result was a luminous glass panel with slices of bamboo floating within - a perfect foil for the solidity of the black terrazzo.
Unlike many transparent panel materials, Livinglass is an impact resistant safety glass. Comprised of 2 liters of annealed glass encapsulating a clear polymer safety interlayer, the material acts as a composite, which is extremely strong and impact resistant. For Nobu, Livinglass created an extra thick interlayer to accommodate 3/8" slices of bamboo wood. One interesting by-product of this extra thick safety glass is its high sound absorption - the thick, resilient interlayer serves to dampen sound - a useful quality since the panels at Nobu screen the private dining room from the kitchen service area. And because Livinglass is real glass, rather than a plastic product, the panels can be hosed down and cleaned with heavy industrial cleaners without scratching or discoloring.