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        “We wanted interior designers to have as many options as we could give them.”
        - Michelle Guss, Crestron Director of Business Development.

        As lockdowns began easing earlier this year, Crestron’s Victor Menendez (Product Manager, Residential Solutions) commandeered a long hallway in the Crestron Plano building. A few people had begun to trickle back into the corporate office, but Menendez still had enough room to physically lay out the three-by-five-inch fabric swatches that would become the basis for a pair of binders full of new shades and styles.

        Although he’s armed with 20 years of experience in this particular field (he’s worked at other firms specializing in lighting and shading), Menendez enlisted some help. Menendez was counseled by folks with experience in both architecture and interior design, and they understood how a book of samples and styles should flow — literally, helping figure out “what went where.” In addition to the team’s native expertise, they also had feedback from Crestron’s showrooms. “We have thousands and thousands of visitors from the design community, and they’re able to physically handle all the offerings at our showrooms,” adds Michelle Guss, Crestron’s director of business development. “Simply put: We had a good idea of what they wanted.”

        Samples ran up and down the hallway, and as days became weeks, Menendez arranged and rearranged the colors and categories. The result ­— the binders and accompanying decks — are being produced now for use by both integrators and the design/build community. The project marks a serious step up for Crestron — previous books of this nature showed little beyond images representing the actual materials. “I’d say these packages are 200% better than what we had,” says Menendez. The binders feature small swatches grouped into various collections, while the decks have the aforementioned three-by-five samples that can be removed and placed in the built environment. “They’re big enough to really give you a sense of how the fabric’s actually going to look in the room,” says Menendez.

        Menendez is a fan of a product’s aesthetic. “We can talk about how quiet the motors are in these shades — and that’s great — but it’s the look that draws people in,” he notes. Guss agrees: “Window coverings and shades are such a large part of the overall design of a home. This is a huge part of the equation — and we wanted interior designers to have as many options as we could give them.”

        “Ten years ago, it was mainly beiges and whites — now grays and blacks are in the mix as well.”
        - Victor Menendez, Crestron Product Manager, Residential Solutions

        Categories and Colors

        “In the past, we had little more than a basketweave collection,” says Menendez. “It was primarily commercial — very utilitarian. We dabbled in decorator collections, but things weren’t cohesive. These new books change that.”

        The two books — the “Heritage” (which features the basketweave fabrics) and the new “Designer” collection — will be in the hands of designers and technology integrators by early 2022. “You’ve got to experience them in a tactile manner,” notes Menendez. “We’re building a robust online catalog as well, but handling the fabrics is key to getting the right look for a client,” adds Guss.

        The fabrics in the collections are broken down into three categories, explains Menendez: “Sheer, light filtering, and blackout — as a designer would expect — offering varying degrees of privacy.” The challenge? Maintaining consistency across categories, something Guss is especially proud of. “In the past, we’d had blackout fabrics that didn't necessarily match what someone would choose for a sheer or translucent fabric,” she explains. “Now, we’ve got options that are properly color-coordinated across all the performance categories. I think the design community is going to really appreciate the results.”

        Menendez will be monitoring shading trends, and updating the books annually. “Ten years ago, it was mainly beiges and whites — now grays and blacks are in the mix as well,” he says. “We’ve taken out a lot of highly defined patterns, like circles and so on, but options with striations seem to be trending, so those looks are available.

        “Beyond that, if someone wants a custom look, we can literally print anything,” he adds.

        Wellness, Biophilia, and How Shading Fits In

        Besides aesthetic considerations, shading fits into a building’s overall lighting scheme — and that’s part of the wellness conversation, too. “There are specifications that are coming out — and I’m sure the design community is well-versed in this — that speak to a person’s circadian rhythms, and how those are impacted by the brightness and color of the light in a room,” says Menendez. “Take a school or an office space — we’re learning that combining the right mix of electric and natural light impacts productivity. It’s measurable, and we’re ensuring that our products help produce those results.”

        “The other aspect of wellness is biophilia,” adds Guss. (For the uninitiated, “biophilia” is “a hypothetical human tendency to interact or be closely associated with other forms of life in nature: a desire or tendency to commune with nature.”) “If a client does have a beautiful view of nature outside their home, having a set of motorized shades that open automatically can create an enhanced state of wellness in the residence. When everything's manual, operating those shades daily, opening them and closing them — a client isn't likely to do that every day, especially in a large luxury residence. The look of nature is just as important as the look of the fabrics we’re discussing.” (Concepts like the one Guss mentions are part of Crestron’s virtual series for designers, which includes a course she wrote on wellness technology for the home.)

        There’s another connection to nature that Menendez is acutely aware of – in addition to finding top-notch materials and optimizing a shade’s performance, he has a bigger responsibility: “We’re always dedicated to making sure that the fabrics and processes we use are as eco-friendly as humanly possible.”