Cellular shades, sometimes referred to as honeycomb shades, continue to be one of the most popular window covering categories. This category was created around 1987, so it is relatively new to an established industry. However, the cellular shade category has shown an amazing 35 percent growth in the last five years and has yet to reach its maturity level.
The popularity of cellular shades can be credited to several factors. First of all, cellular shades come in a number of cell sizes ranging from 3/8-inch to two-inch. How do you choose which size? The key to remember is that smaller cell sizes look best in small windows while larger cell sizes have a better appearance in large windows. In particular, the 9/16-inch cell size has shown great growth and is used extensively in all window sizes.
The next element is the number of cells. They range from single to double to triple cells. Generally speaking, the double and triple cells may offer higher insulating values. However, that is not the case all of the time, so the consumer must request this information if it is a critical element of their buying decision.
In cellular shades, the air is trapped in the cell, which keeps a room cooler during the summer and warmer during the winter. The insulation value is reported as R-value. The higher the R-value, the more insulation a product provides. Normally, you can expect these values to range from 3.2 to 4.5.
Maybe more important for the consumer is the color or the texture of the fabric. How does it look? How does it feel? Will it make the room feel inviting or personable? The color trends are monitored closely each year with some of the industry's leading experts from various color marketing organizations.
Window coverings must convey the same color trends that exist in other areas of home furnishings. These trends are revised every year to include the latest color fashions which usually last 18 to 30 months. For example, 1998 brings a lot of yellow and green along with more earthtone colors. Gold, ginger and softer colors have replaced pastel colors.
Another factor is the fabric, which can be woven, non-woven, knit or some combination. Most cellular shades feature a non-woven front fabric with a neutral, non-woven backing fabric. However, there is an increasing demand for woven front fabric in today's market. Woven fabrics allow the consumer to choose deeper, richer colors similar to pleated shade fabric. In addition, woven fabrics provide more texture and depth as well as consistent color.
How about privacy and light control? Cellular products cover all aspects by offering light-filtering and room-darkening fabrics. Consumers want to control the amount of light that filters into the room as well as provide privacy. In particular, room-darkening fab-rics block 99 to 100 percent of the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays to prevent fading of furniture, carpet or other household items. Also, all cords run through the center of the fabric which prevents light streaks into the room.
All of the above attributes have contributed to making cellular shades the choice of more and more consumers. Elegant styles, fashionable colors, designer fabrics and color-coordinated componentry have consumers shopping for cellular products more than ever. They are looking for softer window coverings while using interior decorators and designers to create personalized rooms.
Cellular shades will continue to be a growing category for the design-conscious consumer for years to come. New fabrics, new colors and new products will dominate this category over the next few years.
Bobby D. Dill is merchandising manager for cellular, pleated and roller shades for Levolor Home Fashions, High Point, NC; (336) 812-8181.