Setting the Stage
A standing ovation is in order for window coverings’ best supporting cast.
Of the many miracles of modern living, one of the best is the development of highly functional drapery and alternative treatment hardware created by brilliant and technically capable mechanical engineers and product designers. These people are unsung heroes who make everything we sell work! Hats off and a huge thank you to this supporting cast—real people solving real window covering challenges!
The mechanisms for contemporary blinds and shades and for the inner workings of deceptively beautiful drapery hardware have made a strong contribution to the higher standard of living (and safety!) that our customers enjoy. We can sell with confidence, knowing that what is offered by reputable companies is guaranteed. If it doesn't work, it can be repaired or replaced. That's a marvel, and a great benefit of a free enterprise system.
In the narration of all my lectures on historic interior design, I have never ceased to marvel at how primitive the operation of historic treatments were, even in the most elegant of buildings during ages of enlightenment and culture. Most formal draperies were simply inoperable. Those typically less-formal straight draperies with pleated headings, which could be opened and closed, were operated by pulling the precious textile by hand, sliding the rings or with a pull-braid. No wonder there were so many historic shutters and wood blinds overlaid with stationary tied-back draperies and elegant top treatments—there was no operable hardware! Draperies are not intended to be handled this way, so textile damage was inevitable when hand pulling was the only method of operation.
That same rule applies today. Never suggest to a client that draperies that are beautifully tied back be let down for nighttime privacy or sunlight control. Your design should include operable undertreatments for that. Even when hands are washed clean a tiny amount of oil remains on the skin. It is easily transferred to the drapery fabric and hence invites air borne particles to be attracted and stick to the surface. Soiling is inevitable, particularly when most people do not think to wash hands before handling often-expensive decorative fabrics.
There are, of course, operable draperies, and they have many advantages. Among them is the pleasure of experiencing an expanse of luxurious fabric that traverses across a window when the drapery closes. Soft folds of fabric are superb at absorbing sound, controlling light and assuring privacy. But they need help from the hardware. According to Warren Stevens Window Fashions, “Beautiful and functional window coverings can be wasted if they are not supported by appropriately selected hardware. Not only are today’s selections beautiful and functional, they can be profit-making focal points that distinguish your business from the rest.”
FASHION FORWARD HARDWARE
Draperies are a fashion statement with great value in quality interiors. In-style fabrics establish beauty in the forefront of good taste and discrimination. One important design trend is that draperies with luminosity are in vogue; giving richness, elegance and importance to even in modest-sized interiors. Metallic sheens aren’t trendy only in fabrics. Manufacturers now offer coordinating drapery hardware with a lustrous finish to accent any drapery treatment perfectly.
The idea of the right hardware for the right treatment is of paramount importance. “The customer can personalize the look of their room by choosing from a plethora of finial designs, pole sizes, materials and finishes to add that a unique touch,” says Kerri Green, president, Paris Texas Hardware (see D&WC, February 2008, page 39).
“Drapery hardware styles tend to be inspired by furniture and interiors. We have seen a strong trend toward darker wood-tone finishes and clean, modern styling. These two influences may be found in traditional, transitional and contemporary settings. ‘Clean’ is the word of the moment,” Green adds.
“We see no limitations in materials for hardware. Fabric patterns, textures and colors set the tone for the entire room. Drapery hardware is like the jewelry that completes the outfit. Whether it be a diamond brooch, coconut shell bracelet, or sterling silver necklace, it’s all in the details. Up-and-coming designs will employ wood, resin, glass, modern metals and wrought iron with an emphasis on clean and simple styling,” says Green.
HARDWARE ADDS VALUE
There also is a value in today’s hardware selection in the sense of good business for decorators and dealers. Nick Bazemore, Forest Group USA, says, “Dealers can distinguish themselves from the competition by offering attractive drapery hardware that is dependable in order to prevent those dreaded replacements that make their designers look bad. The H-Rail system from Busche offers just such a solution: made-in-Germany quality that designers need with exceptional style that designers want.”
Paris Texas’s Green agrees, “As drapery hardware is always paired with fabric treatments, it is a great add-on to make the whole window more distinctive… By having a broad selection of specialty hardware collections, a dealer can become known for offering a complete decorative hardware category. Also, by training their sales and customer service staffs to be drapery hardware experts, dealers can build a reputation for having the best knowledge and selection. The dealer will then become a trusted resource for the designer and end user.”
Green adds, “Window coverings professionals who offer a variety of decorative hardware in quality construction can count on a product that will enhance the interior, and help them look good, as well.”
“When you offer a product that functions flawlessly every time, it is beautiful,” says Bazemore.
Another winner of Best Supporting Cast honors are blinds and shade headrail mechanisms. These ingenious contraptions allow for privacy and light control options, ease of use and durability in alternative window treatments. They are the real behind-the-scenes stars! They have made the world a better place as they allow for sleek lines, handsome appearance from inside the room as stand-alone window treatments or under decorative draperies, and also from the exterior view of the windows.
Standing ovations are in order for functional and beautiful drapery hardware and for headrail mechanisms. They get our vote for successfully making life more convenient, more practical and much more beautiful.
Karla J. Nielson, Allied ASID, WCAA, is assistant professor of design at Brigham Young University. She has authored several books including Window Treatments, Understanding Fabrics and Interiors: An Introduction, 3rd Ed. Nielson is a regular correspondent for Draperies & Window Coverings addressing the areas of fashion, education and merchandising.