Glass bricks: Love or loathe?

Back from the dead/the early 1900s, glass bricks are the controversial trend designers and architects are either loving or hating right now.

Some ’70s and ’80s homes still sport the glass brick trend, which up until recently was considered to be hideously outdated.

Now, translucent, modular bricks are back with a vengeance – although not every interior stylist and architect is ready to begin embracing it just yet…

“My first response is definitely loathed,” says Mia Lake, interior design director at Vic Lake Architects, when asked whether she loved or loathed the trend.

Glass bricks have made a resurgence in recent times. Picture: YuChen Zao

My father is an architect, and in the early ’90s, he used them a lot. My opinion is that they look dated, but I’ll admit: I have seen them used unusually as of late, and they have blown my mind.”

“There’s a Hermès building in Tokyo where the whole facade is made up of glass bricks. It looks like a jewelry box, it’s so beautiful.”

Here, Mia explains the history of glass bricks and provides insight on how to best use them in your own home.

The history of the glass brick

Not just for looks, the glass brick serves a purpose – it has been used in architecture for centuries and for many different applications.

Its popularity stems from its ability to let in filtered natural light while providing privacy and buffering sound. Glass bricks can also be used as a fire-rated window in high-density living.

Plus, despite being made of glass, they are very secure for their thickness.

The Hermès building in Tokyo has a glass brick facade. Picture: Getty

The resurgence of the glass brick

Everything makes a comeback at some point. Glass bricks can be viewed as ‘ugly cool’, but the fact they’re practical is a bonus.

New patterns, textures, sizes, and colours have hit the market since they first came into vogue, and when used in a quirky way, they can indeed look interesting.

Skinny, rectangular-shaped glass bricks laid in a brick pattern look far more modern than the traditional stacked square block that had a presence in the early ’90s.

Glass bricks can cast beautiful light across a space. Picture: Jun Murata

Things to keep in mind when installing glass bricks

Avoid installing them in an old-fashion manner of a triangular-diagonal – this is a massive design ‘no-no’.

Even though glass bricks can provide some privacy, you may still require a window treatment to block out the light or exposure, particularly in the bedroom or bathroom.

Beautiful ways to incorporate glass bricks into the home

Use them in an unusual way to achieve a cool and fresh effect. I’ve seen them used as a shower screen in a warehouse conversion and it really worked to enhance the space and add a unique element.

You may also consider creating a tiny peephole, using just one glass brick in the opening or a narrow tall slot window.

Installing them in a more architectural manner can completely change the impact. If you’re feeling daring, why not build with them as an external facade on mass – treat it like a wall, not just a window product.

And for those really looking to get creative, consider using a coloured mortar to achieve a grid-like effect with a twist.

Glass bricks are durable and soundproof, and make for an easy way to light up an entryway. Picture: Getty

Originally published as Glass bricks: Love or loathe? by Katie Skelly. Author at