I’m working on an article for TD that concerns window coverings. When I started thinking about window coverings as a category, my mind reflectively thought ‘shades’. That’s how I’ve always perceived window coverings, as shades. As in, “oh it’s too bright, lower the shades.” Well, I couldn’t of been any more ass-backwards had I tried! It turns out that window coverings have tons of technology baked into the product and are much more than just a light blocker. I spent some time this week with Kim Kiner, VP of Textile & Material Design at Hunter Douglas on their Broomfield, CO campus. She ran me through some of the technologies that Hunter Douglas has pioneered over the past few decades.
I’m not going to get into window coverings per se in this brief article. You’ll have to wait for the Summer issue to find out all of the cool things happening in the category. But I do want to share something that Hunter Douglas invented and part of what makes them the leaders in window coverings in North America. It has to do with transforming light.
Let’s take a step back from window coverings and start off by talking about lighting any given space. For those who are familiar with the lighting industry, there is a mad rush on in the fixtures sector to bring dim-to-warm lighting to market. As the day progresses and it starts to get dark outside, you want your lights to slowly dim to a warm, soft glow that mimics incandescent light – the light we all grew up with. It’s soft and comfortable and sets a great mood in any space. Brighter light by day when you have tasks to perform (in the kitchen, office area, etc.) and softer light by night when you want to chill.
During the day when the sun is out, the philosophy of the folks at Hunter Douglas is to bring that natural outside light indoors into any given space. Use it to light up a space. Not block it or shade it, but to transform it into your daily life. Natural daylight is wonderful and we all know how good it makes us feel. Think about those dreary winter months when there isn’t as much natural daylight. So anytime you have good light outside, the folks at Hunter Douglas believe in bringing it indoors.
And they do that with patented technology they developed long ago – now known as their Silhouette® series of window treatments. This unique design re-directs outside light into the space – along with light filtering properties to reduce glare and excessive UV light that can damage furniture, carpets and artwork. Backed with a thousand options for texture and color so the design fits the decor. It looks simple enough, but when you see it in action it’s quite remarkable. And now that I’ve seen it, I’m wondering why my house doesn’t have this technology. It seems like such a natural way to light a space during the day.
I’ll be writing more about this technology and how window coverings are more than just a decor feature – there are energy management properties that, in combination with advanced window technologies, fit in to the sustainable, resilient design principles we’ve been championing in the pages of TD.
So, don’t call them shades. I’m as guilty as anyone in having that mindset. They are also light transformers and they are as much about lighting design as any lighting fixture.