Window View - August 2012

Looking Ahead
By Wanda Jankowski

Leading suppliers of window coverings, motorization and decorative hardware reveal popular trends and new products on tap for Fall 2012 and beyond

Our mid-year look at the status of the alternative window coverings sector begins with insights into today’s trends followed by details on what suppliers are planning for Fall 2012 and beyond.

Bestselling Trends Today

Tom Perkowitz, director of marketing, B&W Window Fashions, cites two trends that have “exploded” this year.
“The first is a return to fabric. Traditional draperies, fabric Roman shades and even fabric top treatments have seen a renaissance. In spite of the economy, consumers are flocking to rich textiles and especially embroidered fabrics,” he explains. “One theory is that since fewer people are moving and upgrading to nicer houses, they are upgrading the looks of the houses they have.

“The second trend, I call ‘super-natural’. Natural Woven Shades or woven woods have been completely transformed. While the traditional solid wood patterns are still selling, the exotic weaves are taking over. Lush natural materials like reeds, grasses and jute are being combined in beautiful hand-woven patterns,” Perkowitz says.

Amy Dakin, director of designer sales, Springs Window Fashions, shares, “We are seeing growing consumer interest in the tried-and-true, classic window coverings, but with a contemporary twist. One example is pleated shades, which are proving popular in the deeply dimensional two-inch pleats. This pleat size is proportioned for today’s larger windows. Another example of interest in the classics is the high demand we see at Springs Window Fashions for both real wood and composite shutters.”

T. Brant O'Hair, president, O’Hair Shutters also notes that wood shutters are maintaining their appeal as premium window covering products.

“Simplicity is the key word for today’s look,” according to Denise Schenck, brand manager, Lafayette Interior Fashions, “so our Genesis Window Shades, Manh Truc Woven Shades and Allure Transitional Shades have been the most popular products for us throughout 2012.” She notes the rise in popularity in residential applications of solar screen shades for filtering harsh sunlight.

“In the past, window coverings were used primarily to block out the light,” says Joe Jankoski, vice-president of merchandising, Hunter Douglas. “Today’s Hunter Douglas product line expands light control to include ‘light harvesting’, which allows light to be redirected into the room and filtered through a layer of sheer fabric, giving the room a warm, even, natural glow, while protecting interior furnishings from harmful UV rays.”

Tracy Christmann, director of marketing, Somfy Systems, cites energy saving solutions as popular with both dealers and consumers. “The new Somfy Solar Pack provides an innovative solution to harness the sun’s energy to power interior window coverings,” she explains. The Solar Pack is installed on the inside of the opening of any new or existing window. It converts the sun’s light into electrical energy, which is stored in the included Nickel Metal Hydride battery to power any Somfy WireFree™ motorized window covering.

In decorative hardware, Atul Patel, president, Orion Ornamental Iron, Inc. states, “Traversing continues to be our most popular product. Orion offers it in both iron and wood, manual and motorized, in a wide collection of rod sizes, rod styles, and rod finishes with more than 300 finials offered.” Patel relates that Orion’s Bohemia Crystal line and its customization hardware program have also done very well.

Moving Into Fall 2012

Lafayette recently launched the latest version of Allure Transitional Shades with a range of new fabric styles and colors. The company has debuted updates to its Genesis Roller and Roman Shade Collection and is refining its Essentials program of top 40 selling customer drapery and top-treatment styles.

Somfy Systems, Inc., the largest manufacturer of interior and exterior window covering motors in the world, is still reeling from the production of its 100 millionth motor in May 2012. It marked the achievement with a celebration in France, where the company originated.

“We’ve hit a remarkable milestone, which is greatly attributed to our consumer loyalty and dedicated workforce of more than 5,000 employees worldwide,” says Michael Lee, ceo and president, Somfy North America.
In 2012 Hunter Douglas reintroduced six product categories with new color palettes, textures, finishes, enhanced operating systems and options. It also debuted an enhanced version of the LiteRise® cordless operating system on Silhouette® window shadings.

The company will be introducing a Platinum™ App that makes programmed control of PowerRise® and PowerGlide® shades simple via technology that allows users to set multiple window coverings for on-schedule repositioning through Apple mobile devices.

For Fall 2012, B& W Window Fashions is adding new fabrics and weaves, including new additions to its natural and roller shades, and fabric lines.

Phifer has introduced the SheerWeave® 4000 Series Fabrics made with sustainable plant-based Dow Ecolibrium™ Bio-Based Plasticizers. Phifer plans to roll out additional SheerWeave collections featuring this technology. Phifer also plans to debut three new colors and a 118-inch width option in the SheerWeave Style 7000 blackout collection.

Springs Window Fashions plans upgrades to its motorization program, including the addition of standard line voltage for 120-volt motors to provide required power for operating larger window coverings with an on/off switch. The Graber motorization program will also offer a low-profile solar panel as an optional power source for low-voltage motorized shades.

Comfortex Window Fashions has scheduled these collections for Fall 2012 launch: Timeless Textures cellular shades, Sheer Horizontal Windows Shades featuring the new Aura Collection of colored sheers, Climate Control solar screens featuring new Solar Flair energy saving screens with “white to the streetside,” and Odysee Cellular Blind printed patterns and textures.

Orion’s focus for Fall 2012 is on its 3D Collection, which recently received the Window Covering Manufacturers Association 2012 Drapery Hardware Award for Most Innovative Overall Concept.

O’Hair notes several developments. “Just a few months ago, we launched O’Hair Venetians™, a radically different design featuring very wide slats and superior light control akin to wide-louver shutters,” he explains.

“Before year-end, we are planning the launch of a premium exterior wood shutter line specifically for defining outdoor living spaces,” says O’Hair. “These movable-louver shutters will be used to surround patios, pergolas, gazebos, etc. with very large shutter panels on track systems to control the effects of sun, wind and weather.

Panels up to 4 feet in width by 11 feet in height (without divider rails) will be available with up to 5-inch louver spacing. The panels will be constructed of hardwood thermally modified for longevity in spite of outdoor exposure.”

For SM Automatic, excitement continues over the major launch in the first half of 2012 of a drapery motor line that took five years to develop. “Our Model 400 Series Drapery Motors represents an exponential advance over previous technologies,” says Hill. SM Automatic also recently debuted the new smautomatic.com website that includes information which previously had been available only through customer service phone lines.

Plans For 2013

Overall, suppliers report cautious optimism when it comes to business growth in 2013, noting that the conclusion of a major national political cycle in November and hoped-for improvements in the housing and financial markets might bring stability and change for the better next year.

“We are optimistic for next year, due to the January 2013 launch of our new catalog, which will include numerous new products and finishes,” says Martha Beck, president, The Finial Company.

Springs’ Dakin reveals motorization options will expand in 2013, including customization features, added functionality for large and/or multiple windows and more component style options.

In early 2013, Orion will debut the Design Art wood rod hardware line, featuring Orion’s original designs in finials and rod-enders, standard and inlay rods (traversing and motorized), rings, brackets and other items.
“In 2013 Somfy will continue to focus efforts on energy saving products, including solar-powered and home automation solutions,” says Christmann. The Somfy TaHomA home automation system is positioned for future upgrades.

Lafayette plans to introduce a new Manh Truc Woven Wood Shade Collection with grasses, reeds and bamboos in popular colors, as well as a new Spring Fabric addition to its Select Masterpieces Fabric Collection.
Whatever the political or economic climate, suppliers are always pushing the envelope in creating new designs and technologies to better serve consumers.

Hunter Douglas
The Platinum™ App from Hunter Douglas simplifies precise control of PowerRise® and PowerGlide® motorized window coverings. Multiple window coverings can be set for on-schedule repositioning by scene, room or time of day. The App uses a Platinum bridge and one or more Platinum repeaters to control shades over the wireless network in the home using the homeowner’s Apple® mobile device.

Springs Window Fashions/Graber
The Perfect-Vue™ Combination shade from Springs Window Fashions’ Graber® line pairs a pleated fabric on the top with a cellular fabric on the bottom for design flexibility. The shades can be easily adjusted and are offered in a wide range of colors and designs.
Lafayette Interior Fashions
Powered by Lutron’s Stanza RF, the Allure Transitional Shades in moonbeam from Lafayette feature wide sheer bands that offer a view framed with contrasting stripes.

The Finial Company
Available from The Finial Company in September 2012 is this new 2.25-inch finial shown in the new Weathered Iron finish.

B&W Fashions
The return of soft textiles is reflected in the popularity of side panels, like these tab-tops from B&W Window Fashions.
World Wide Fabric Inc.
Patterns shown (top to bottom) from the wide array of fabrics available from World Wide Fabric Inc. are: Peroni, Utopia, Lucca, Ballard, Chase, Lalaine and Jane.
O’Hair Shutters & Venetians
O’Hair’s new Venetian blinds bring innovations to the Venetian blind category. Made in the U.S. from responsibly forested American hardwood seasoned for strength and stability, they are available in spans of up to 10 by 8 feet. The deep, slim slats are offered with spacings of up to 5 3/8 inches (40 percent larger than any other Venetians) and enable a view ratio of 97.5 percent. The light-tight design has a side clearance of only 1/32-inch and no rout holes. Other special features include several style options in hardwood valances, hardwood side guides, an innovative light-blocking lower split-slat design, integrated hold-downs and locking lift clips for child safety. O’Hair’s are the only Venetians endorsed by independent consumer advocacy organization, Parents for Window Blind Safety.
SM Automatic
The Model 400 Series Drapery Motors from SM Automatic are available in three load capacities, and come with advanced electronics offering a multiplicity of platform control options.
Trimland
Trimland offers a wide range of trims to adorn window treatments and add complementary style and accent colors to a room’s furnishings.
Phifer
Part of the new SheerWeave Performance + Collection of high-tech interior sun control fabrics, the Style 2500 is a 1 percent, open basket-weave fabric that adds the highly reflective properties of a metallized coating to the traditional performance of a SheerWeave fabric. Performance + fabrics block sun rays, reflect solar heat away, reduce solar glare and increase the outward view while providing increased daytime privacy.
Orion Ornamental Iron
Orion’s 3D Collection features iron U-bends at both rod ends that curve around to place the finials in front of the rod. Finials also can be adjusted to be above or below the rod. The system allows finials to be chosen without regard to size. Iron rods are offered in 3/4-inch to 1.5 inches, accommodate all Orion iron finials and can be used with rings. 3D is available in 35 Iron Art finishes, plus custom colors.
Comfortex
These Comfortex cellular shades feature Linen Weave Light Filtering fabric in the heirloom color with cordless hardware.

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