For the first time since 1995, the window coverings industry’s annual trade show returned to Washington, DC, and that decision may have been the best one made recently in the nation’s capital.
Now known as the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) the show was held at a new venue, the Washington Convention Center, April 11 to 14. A first impression was the size of many of the booths for this year’s exhibitors. From the virtual village of booths from Norman Shutters to the dramatic staging of ADO to the vibrant Vertilux booth, exhibitors stepped up increasing the size of their displays and offering new product launches as well.
By appearances, the show’s attendance is holding strong. Last year, in Tampa, FL, attendance was reported hitting “record numbers” at 7,500, according to the show’s producer, Grace McNamara Inc., St. Paul, MN. This year it was reported that international attendees (from 51 countries) was up 14 percent and retailer presence increased by 7.6 percent.
POINTS OF INTEREST
There is always the contention to deal with regarding the absence of several of the industry’s big name manufacturers. Still, there were more new products offered or highlighted this year seemingly than in the last several.
Norman Shutters unveiled a motorized wood shutter panel this year. The battery-operated system was so new pricing wasn’t available yet. Also in the shutter category, Comfortex introduced its new Woodwinds® Supernatural™ Woodtone shutters. This wood alloy product is expected to be available beginning this month.
In the drapery and fabric category, ADO this year put an emphasis on its workroom services and the types of treatments it can produce for customers. It also combined two of its latest innovations, ActiBreeze® and BioProtect® into a program it calls SmartFabrics, which can act to improve indoor air quality and protect against bacteria.
One of the most interesting new products was simple and much talked about. Presented in one of the show’s smaller booths, the StayFold drapery control is a molded plastic form promoted as an installation tool and a decorating necessity. Once installed, it keeps drapery panels hanging straight in perfect pleat configuration.
In drapery hardware, Iron Art showcased an expanded collection of rods, finials and accessories in many materials, finishes and styles. The ultimate in mix-and-match component hardware just might be the Jewels™ collection presented by Helser Brothers. Offered in metallic and colorful clear crystal, the bands, finials and end caps are designed to fit together in any combination to create unique, personalized designs.
In the shade category, a new cut-down line of cordless pleaded and cellular shades was presented by Golden Champion. Meanwhile, Lutron Electronics debuted a convertible shade—one it says can be easily converted from manual to motorized.
One of the more enjoyable attractions at the show wasn’t a new product at all. It was a person. Designer Michael Payne of “Designing for the Sexes” presented on the show floor his techniques for helping men and women find style they both can live with. Payne is part of the Exciting Windows! program, which also exhibited at this year’s show.
As in year’s past, the Window Covering Manufacturers Association presented its annual Product Innovation Awards during the Expo. It’s an opportunity for the industry to take pride in the new products it produces each year. This year there were 88 entries for judging, the second largest number in the awards’ history. (For a complete list of this year’s winners, see D&WC, April 2007, page 67.) It was noted that next year the association is thinking of adding award categories for Green Design, Woven Woods and Panel Systems.
Networking with peers and suppliers—and just plain having fun—is also a part of this show. Several manufacturers, including Somfy Systems, RollEase, Hunter Douglas and Phifer Inc. held off-site receptions.
Next year the show returns to Atlanta, GA, March 27 to 29, 2008.