Report: Crestron launches Shades into UK market

charlie derk, technology manager of shading solutions, speaks at launch of crestron shades at chelsea showroom
Charlie Derk speaks at Crestron Shades launch in Chelsea

On 19nd September, 2017 Crestron officially launched its line of motorised shades and drapery at its showroom at Chelsea’s Design Centre in London.

Coinciding with Chelsea’s Focus/17 interior design event, running from September 17 to 22, Crestron has introduced Crestron Shades into the UK market after five successful years on the market in the US.

Following a look at how shading can affect the design of a space by Kate Burnett, interior designer and editor of Studio magazine, Crestron technology manager of shading solutions, Charlie Derk and the manufacturer’s head of residential for the EMEA region, Phil Pini, discussed Crestron’s different shading offerings at the launch.

“When it comes to lighting and curtains and blinds, our goal is to give all homeowners some control somewhere between on or off or open or closed,” said Derk. “I think designers and architects spend a lot of time working on light fittings, but the question is if you can’t control the light that’s coming in through the windows, what good does it do?”

Three subcategories of lighting control that can be installed early on or retrofitted will now be offered by the manufacturer: roller blinds (available in single or double-track options), roman blinds and curtains – the latter two of which are highly customisable, with it down to the installer/designer and client to select fabric. Blinds can be installed in or outside a window frame, or in the ceiling for environments where the homeowner would like them completely out of sight. One motor can control as many as five windows positioned side-by-side.

Shades can be programmed to work in room scenes as part a larger Crestron automation system and integrated alarm systems to change in an emergency situation, as well as offering ‘Vacation Mode’ – allowing the technology to repeat recorded behaviour in the home and play it back to give the impressions someone is home.

"When people live with motorised blinds and curtains, they realise it’s something that really adds value to their home.”

Crestron Shades deployed in bedroom in high-rise apartment

A selection of fabrics – both suited for technical and decorative use – are now on display in the showroom, ranging from translucent, 3%, 5% or 10% transparency to full-blackout options. Crestron has also partnered with Oregon-based Hartmann & Forbes to offer handwoven options made from natural materials for roller blinds. For hand-loomed fabrics lead time is around 10-12 weeks, and for other fabrics it is roughly 4-6 weeks. Clients are able to take 8x10 swatches away with them after looking at fabrics to see how they would look in their home.

With Savant and now Screen Innovations making a play for the shading market, alongside industry stalwarts, just what differentiates Crestron Shades from the rest in an increasingly crowded marketplace? Derk likened to the mechanism inside Crestron’s shading line to the Dyson vacuum motor, after demoing the quietness of the product – coming in at 38 dBA. So confident are the company in its reliability that it’s offering a lifetime guarantee with each product.

Crestron has additionally made the products fully upgradable should a homeowner/new homeowner want to change their products. “Manual blinds have been around for many years, as have motorised blinds, but until we developed this brand new product line there wasn’t a product in the market that allowed for a simple upgrade,” said Derk. “Our approach is that if you don’t want to spend all your money on motorised blinds in the beginning, you don’t have to. You can put manual ones and it be easy to motorise later down the line, with no mess – the brackets or fabric don’t need to be replaced.”

According to Derk, the market potential is there – whether clients start with just a few rooms or deploy a full-home system. “I’ve noticed that over time these products end up selling themselves. When people live with motorised blinds and curtains (and lighting control), they realise it’s something that really adds value to their home.”

“When you look at the budgets for building new homes, most homeowners look at windows and decide they need to put something on them, whether it’s a manual or motorised blind. There is typically a budget for that, unlike things like AV and lighting. This is typically a need, not a want. Window coverings are things that every home needs,” he concludes.

Shades will be available to purchase from Crestron dealers and integrators. The line is on display now at the manufacturer’s Chelsea showroom.