New technologies abounded at the Expo, all seeming to say, "Our future's so bright, we're gonna use shades."
Many companies at the Expo unveiled new technologies for 1999. They included everything from iron-on blackout lining from d÷fix No*Sew to vinyl cornices with lighting from Infinity Cornice & Lighting. All of the new products seemed impressive, but a few really caught my eye. As I walked the exhibit hall floor, here's what drew my attention.
D÷fix offered a variety of new and innovative products. The first was its iron-on blackout lining. Long an innovator in the iron-on industry, d÷fix leads the way again with this product. Like its other iron-on products, the blackout lining can be adhered without sewing. One side is coated with polyester and the other with cotton blackout lining. It can be used for Roman or roller shades and is ideal any time you need extreme light control from shades.
Another new product showcased by d÷fix was its cordless shade system. These shades are appropriate for skylights, greenhouses and sunrooms. The shades feature a side-track system so they can be closed either from the top down or from the bottom up to cover any part of the window. Stylistically, you can do a lot with these shades by adding lining.
The shade can be removed easily and redecorated. The iron-on loop fasteners d÷fix uses are a snap. D÷fix also offers a telescopic wand, which enables the designer or home owner to operate shades installed on a skylight or tall window. The wand reaches up to 11 1/2 feet. D÷fix has gone a long way towards producing a shade that can provide both privacy and ease of operation.
Concord Shading Systems also showcased new technology in its booth. It presented a universal motorization system for opening and closing window treatments. This system will work on verticals, mini-blinds, roller shades, Roman shades, pleated shades and blackout shades. If this isn't enough, Concord also can custom craft systems to fit your window treatments.
The motorized system employs a tubular motor concealed behind a headrail. It is relatively easy to install with simple wiring, and the headrail contains a clip-in/clip-out mechanism. Concord offers a variety of control options from wall-mounted controls to remote controls and from individual window controls to group controls for all your windows. One of the most amazing features of the system is its programmable capability to move the shades according to sun intensity. This comfort control system monitors the intensity of the sun and shifts the shades or blinds automatically to maintain the level of comfort the home owner desires. Now that's what I call service.
Diversified Verticals & Accessories (DVA) presented a different kind of cool new accessory. Its Swing Verticals with Vertical TieBacks enable the designer and customer to create a wide variety of blind treatments. You can install Swing Verticals on doors, such as French doors or commercial store front doors, or on windows. Because of their versatility, they can cover narrow windows or oddly shaped windows such as octagonal windows or cottage windows.
Perhaps the most revolutionary product offered by DVA is its Vertical TieBack. As you might surmise, these TieBacks pull together and hold vertical blinds. By clipping the blinds together the TieBacks can produce a sharp look at patio doors, sliding windows and bay windows. The TieBacks install easily without tools and can be personalized with photographs or other decorations. Watch out, because these might be the next rage.
Ashbrook & Associates featured Rufflette tapes that work with a regular iron. Rufflette has developed a new computerized system to apply glue to its tapes. Anyone who has used iron-on tapes before knows once they were ironed on, they sometimes became too stiff to be practical. Rufflette's computerized system ALIGNs the glue in dots along the tape. This makes for a much more functional and pliable product than previous tapes that had a solid line of glue.
Another favorite at the Expo, Kirsch exhibited its new Tab Top Traversing Rod. This design enables you to take a tab top curtain and turn it into a functioning traversable window treatment. In other words, with this rod you can have your cake and eat it too. With the traversing rod you can mount a tab top curtain to be opened or closed without handling the fabric. A carrier in the rod (one for each tab) slides the curtain open and closed. The rods are available in two lengths: 38 to 66 inches and 66 to 96 inches.
These decorative rods are complemented by new finials also offered by Kirsch. The finials range in design and are constructed from metals, glass and resins. They truly look like works of art. The only downside to the new Kirsch set is that the Traversing Rod should not be used with heavyweight fabrics with tabs of two inches or more. But don't let that stop you from experimenting with these ingenious new products.
Lamar Griggs, an author and seminar speaker, also has entered this technological race to the 21st century. He displayed two new products he has invented: In the Groove wood poles and the Valance Lifter. The wood poles have a groove cut in the bottom, which enable you to slide your fabric into the bottom of the pole. How easier could your installation be?
The Valance Lifter is another remarkable invention. This product includes a metal grid that lifts valances out of the way of opening doors and windows-for convenience, cleaning, and ventilation. In addition to windows and doors, it works well over shutters. The lifter installs easily into the wall or dust cap.
Using the lifter enables the designer to come up with creative designs while not having to worry about whether the door or window still will function. The designer can rest easy, knowing the Valance Lifter will take care of that. Use a little bit of caution, though. Griggs does not recommend the Valance Lifter for swags.
PRACTICAL AND DECORATIVE
Perhaps my favorite new technology exhibited at the Expo was Infinity's new cornices with lights. We've talked about blinds, curtains, rods and linings, what would be a better way to cap off your design than with a lighted cornice? The cornices are made of a flame resistant PVC. They are adaptable to almost any setting with paintable surfaces and a variety of designs. The surfaces can be marbleized or faux-finished to create high-quality decorations.
The designs include classical, contemporary and mini-blind and range in size from three inches to seven and a half inches. And, they are practical as well. Their tube lighting provides a well-lighted area. One four-foot lamp creates an equal amount of light as three 100-watt bulbs. But what of the energy waste, you ask? That same four-foot lamp uses only 32 watts and produces minimal heat. Infinity offers a single and a double lamp configuration. These cornices are an ideal way to infuse a soft, indirect light into your decorated room.
What will the 21st century look like for the window coverings industry? As the International Window Coverings Expo demonstrated, the practical and the decorative will be bridged. The designer will have a wide variety of options. Ease of installation and configuration will abound. New technologies will make our jobs at once more invigorating and more demanding. As I've said, the future's so bright!
Cheryl Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC, and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional drapery workrooms. Strickland also is the author of A Practical Guide to Soft Window Coverings and the Designer's Sketch Pad, which are available through Draperies & Window Coverings magazine.