Exploring Our Options
Bare windows, by themselves, with glass panes and external treatments, like awnings and screens, satisfy many requirements expected out of them. They let light and air into the home. They also to open up the space to make it feel less confining. Unfortunately, man cannot live with bare windows alone because many other conditions need to be met to make life livable within homes. Primary amongst these conditions are:
• The need for privacy
• The need for light control
• The need for all season thermal efficiency
• The need for aesthetics within a home
It is to meet these needs that we resort to window treatments. Though window dressings types are restricted to just drapes and curtains, blinds and shades, an unlimited choice exists within these types. Just as in the apparel fashion industry, trends keep changing within the window coverings industry too and it makes good sense to explore the market before finalizing a product that is to adorn a window.
Trends in Canada
The International Window Covering Expo (ICWE) held at Las Vegas showcases trends related to the artistic and functional aspects of the window covering industry. Held in January of each year ICWE showcases the latest collection of window coverings, curtains, blinds, wall coverings, window decoration accessories, the most recent technology in window cover and much more.
Though we are halfway through the year, it is good to keep in mind two trends that emerged from the show.
• Multi-layered window treatments
• Motorized window shades
Multi-layered window treatments: “Multi-layered” in window dressing terminology means the combining of two different material or treatment types. It could be a heavy curtain combined with a sheer one, two-in-one shades as in Sun Up Sun Down, Top down Bottom up or a shade and curtain combination that works well for windows like bay windows. Multi layering introduces the possibility of introducing aesthetics with functionality. A heavy/sheer combination allows the homeowner to introduce light and view during the day with heavy panels open and blackout and thermal efficiency at night and in winter with the heavy panels drawn.
Cord-free controls and motorization: We have got used to accepting the child and pet safe control options as an upgrade. This year at the Expo the trend seemed to be veering towards an industry offering child and pet safe control options as a standard rather than as an upgrade option. This could be the result of clear definitions being imposed about “accessible cord” lengths and safety norms by Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA).
Motorization for window dressing has matured very fast, as it has to if it is to keep pace with and take advantage of innovations in technology, to meet the demands of consumers getting used to controlling their lives out of their palms. This development was amply evident at IWCE 2014. Battery powered devices managing large, small and remotely located window coverings panels to operate smoothly and silently was all the rage at the expo. The Graber Virtual cord type of control with its ability to configure and group multiple channels, shows great potential as an affordable handheld window treatment controlling device that can work as an app in the foreseeable future – a future where window coverings can be controlled from a mobile phone as easily as messaging through an app like Whatsapp.
Trends and their relevance: We would all like to believe that we are living in the world in which an idea becomes a trend because it addresses the functional and aesthetic aspects of a generation. Window treatment projects are expensive, and consumers are very concerned about “getting a bang out of their buck” and serving the intended purpose over an extended period. It is easy to get carried away by trends and install treatments inappropriately. To avoid such an unfortunate eventuality, it may be fruitful to assess necessities dispassionately. To achieve this, each window needs to be considered independently:
• Privacy may not be a concern from many windows. Long drapes and curtains in the right colors can be used to introduce aesthetic appeal. Roman shades can also be considered. When privacy is a concern as in bathrooms, bedrooms and home theatres motorized window shades with efficient light control ranging from fully open to black will make life very comfortable.
• The need for energy conservation and energy efficiency becomes the single most important criteria when temperature lows and highs are extreme. The material, the fit and the insulation properties have to be studied before the choice is finalized. The showcasing of multi-layered window dressing products as a trend at ICWE 2014 and 2015 suggests that energy efficient solutions are here to stay as they make sense to consumers making life comfortable while reducing utility bills.
• There is a broad range of color and material in each window treatment type, making the task of getting aesthetics right much easier.
Awareness of trends is useful because manufacturers venture into production only after spending a lot of money on research. Some trends are seasonal, others are for the long term. Getting it right is getting the “bang out of your buck”.