Oct 20, 2008


Photo: Jen Buley

After “discovering” crocheted insynsskydd in the Swedish countryside, I began to think about alternatives -- beyond draperies and simple roller shades -- for window treatments; and more specifically, I began to think about design solutions that actively play with light to create graphic decorative effects.

One thing I love about the insynsskydd is that it has a tailored, lattice-like effect, because it is stretched on a frame. A drawback, however, is that the frame cannot be adjusted easily as light conditions, and the need for privacy, change.

I began to think about other structured shades, that could be fully adjusted, and less expensive to produce than custom crochet. I like the idea of laser-cutting sophisticated designs -- from simple, modern lattices, to more decorative, stylized figures and florals -- into natural-feeling fabrics.

For several years, Dutch designer Tord Boontje has enjoyed deserved success with innovative home products made of laser-cut Tyvek, like his Garland lamp shade, and Until Dawn curtain.

Designer, Tord Boontje, Until Dawn

Boontje's designs are so beautiful, but I am thinking of new possibilities for laser-cut designs with a more appealing hand, and texture than Tyvek, and a "structured smooth," or more tailored, look.

In Copenhagen last week, I saw an exhibit entitled SAUMA, at the Danish Design Center, showcasing new design concepts by Finnish designers. There was an ingenious interpretation of the laser-cut shade idea, by Elina Aalto, a member of the Finnish design group Fiasko. Her Better View Blind, is cut to look like a city skyline by night, and comes in versions of several cities, including Helsinki and New York. The screens are hand-cut to order, by the designer, on a black-out polyester material.

Designer: Elina Aalto, Better View Blind

I've been exploring ideas for production laser-cutting a variety of designs on more natural-looking materials, as well as on heavy felt. At the ModAmont and Première Vision shows, in Paris last month, there was a lot of lasered and layered felt. I think that sharp, laser-cut felt, in colorful, smart designs is an interesting mini-trend to follow for home applications such as windows, table top, and bed, as well as for fashion accessories. There is a tactile fun, and wonderful color saturation to felt, as well as the possibility for building up forms, as shown by these playful "father and daughter dancing shoes," also in the SAUMA exhibit:

Designers: Aamu Song and Johan Olin, Tanssitossut, Photo: Jen Buley

Going back to insysnsskydd: another thing I like is that they cover the bottom half of the window frame, providing privacy from the street, while allowing as much light as possible to enter from the top of the window, where the sun is. Traditional top-hanging roller shades often achieve the opposite: in order to block out the street, you have to block out all the light. A better design is a fully adjustable shade that can be moved freely to selectively block any portion of the window, as these patented shades offered by JCPenney do.

JCPenney, patented, top-down or bottom-up shades

It's a great installation solution. Now, I'd like to see it done in beautiful fabrics, and decorative designs.

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