Volume 15, Issue 2 - March-April 2011

feature

A New Look
Decorative Film Companies Discuss How They are Re-Designing Interior Design
By Katie Hodge

Window film is usually a numbers industry. Most customers want to know how much energy they can save and how much glare or heat they can cut out of their lives. There is one product in the industry that works with a completely different set of numbers. Decorative film products have no attachment to a customer’s energy bills. The numbers that matter to decorative film purchasers are the dollars saved by installing film instead of glass. While the numbers might be different in nature decorative film, like window film, has great numbers when in comes to saving consumers money. In this case, it’s more about the cost than the science.

“No matter how big, small, intricate or simple it is, what really matters is the impression [decorative film] makes on the building owner or clients that are walking into that space.”
—Brian Rosenberger, Sun Control of Minnesota

Let’s Get Together
More than any other window film product, decorative film requires a collaborative effort. Some companies do everything in-house including designing the film, plotting, cutting and installing while others do pieces of the process. Even if the decorative film company does the whole process in-house there is still consultation with the customer, architect or interior designer.

Brian Rosenberger, a salesman and installer for Sun Control of Minnesota, deals regularly with architects, clients, and interior designers to create a desired look using decorative film.

“A lot of our work right now is coming specifically from the architect, usually one we have worked with or one who has seen our work,” says Rosenberger “Or maybe a glass company gets that spec and then the glass company begins working with us.”

Rosenberger consults with the other project players to feel out what the customer is looking for in the design.

“There are a lot of questions I usually have for the architect and even if I get a referral through a glass company I usually go straight to the architect to find out what their goals are and what their design intent is,” Rosenberger adds. “Sometimes the architect may change their opinion based on our professional advice or just from shooting ideas back and forth.”

Other decorative film companies take a designer’s vision and present options of what could be done.

“We have certain designers that we work with on a regular basis and know what we can do and they have their own ideas. They come to us with a concept on a downloadable file or something like that. They will send it over and we will put it into FlexiSIGN™ and see what we can do with it,” says Lyman McNutt, president of Solar-X Window Film Systems in Sarasota, Fla. “Sometimes they want concepts. I had a guy who called the other day who wanted to put some etched film on a mirror in a condominium lobby of an old hotel that was built in the 1920’s. It had been restored and they had this great big mirror in the foyer and they want to put the name of the hotel and the date it was established on the mirror. So we suggested using some deep-etched window film and we gave them some ideas and a full gamut of looks.”

After the consultation phase of the design work is complete many companies will create a mock-up to give to the architect or glass shop before actually incurring the cost of printing and installing.

“Usually I don’t want to go to the install or even cut the film unless I have a mock up design to show—whether it be on paper or an actual film on glass mock up. It does take more time and there is cost involved in any design,” says Rosenberger. “Sometimes we had plans to overlay certain films and when [the architect] saw the mock up they realized it didn’t react the way they expected so then we search for other films that will work better as an overlay.”

Technology
One of the contributing factors to the success of decorative film has been the improvements and success of new types of technology.

“Custom printing seems to be the newest latest thing. Every architect is always trying to put their stamp on something—push the envelope a bit,” says Steve Pesce, owner of New York Window Film in New York, NY. “They want to have something to design that says it’s from them so custom printing is something that is up and coming and you will see a lot more of.”

Specifically, some products have become big stand outs. Architectural wraps and UV solvent printing could play a large part in the future of decorative film.

“There is going to be technology coming down the road that everybody will be able to do something with. There is more and more stuff out there all the time. There are the rear projection films, UV solvent printing and architectural wraps that you can do for storefronts and things like that. There are all kinds of stuff that you can do,” says can save or how it can cut down glare and protect interiors. While decorative film can be used in a functional way, its main purpose remains to decorate.

“It’s client-based. It’s not energy saving. It doesn’t provide any substantial numbers. It’s all about the art in it,” says Rosenberger. “There is no real ROI. A lot of the window film business is based on ROI. So it’s kind of neat because you don’t have to provide a bunch of numbers. There isn’t a huge amount of technical data involved. You just need to know your product and know how to supply and you have to have good relationships.”

The decorative film market is still being discovered and the future of the product is still un-decided.

“What happens with decorative film is all going to be a function of not only what’s available in terms of technology, but what the economy is going to allow,” says McNutt.

However, much potential remains for this new niche market. Decorative film continues to be an affordable way for many consumers to dress-up their space.

“Decorative film is a lot more fun to do in the sense that it is more creative instead of the meat and potatoes of putting up
window film everyday. At the end of the day though the important thing is whether you can make any money doing it.”
—Lyman McNutt, Solar-X Window Film Systems

“No matter how big, small, intricate or simple it is, what really matters is the impression [decorative film] makes on the building owner or clients that are walking into that space,” says Rosenberger.

The product has also continued to be an interesting change for many installers.

“Decorative film is a lot more fun to do in the sense that it is more creative instead of the meat and potatoes of putting up window film everyday. At the end of the day though the important thing is whether you can make any money doing it,” says McNutt.

While the industry meshes two products under one category, decorative film continues to expand its market and find its place in the design world.

Katie Hodge is the editor of Window Film magazine.



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