Our roundup of commercial and residential window options includes smarter shading systems, technologies that allow for more expansive views, and custom capabilities that allow these openings to show off their own personalities. — Rita Catinella Orrell

P. Allen Smith’s window (sketch and final window design, above) was inspired by his love of natural materials and Gothic architecture.

Milton Glaser ’s window (above) is an ode to the seasons. Overlay panels transform the scene from Winter/Autumn into Spring/Summer.

Karim Rashid’s undulating window concept (top) is a reflection of his trademark style. Mark Laita’s design (real window, above) features overlapping frames inspired by a photocollage.

Bringing “dream windows” to life helps manufacturer promote custom capabilities

When Marvin Windows and Doors reached out to a select group of designers, architects, sculptors, and artists to participate in the myMarvin Project — a campaign to showcase the potential of custom window designs — the manufacturer posed a seemingly simple question: “If you could design your dream window, what would it be?”

The overwhelming response to this call for designs resulted in a collection of unique custom windows from a diverse group, including graphic designer Milton Glaser, architect and author Sarah Susanka, designer Karim Rashid, photographer Mark Laita, and TV host and garden design expert P. Allen Smith. “They each bring their own personal interpretation to the myMarvin Project,” says Marvin’s director of marketing Brett Boyum, “which is exactly what we were hoping for.”

Two of the concepts have already been hand-built by craftsmen at Marvin’s manufacturing facility in Warroad, Minnesota: a window featuring overlapping rectangular frames inspired by a collage of sky images by Mark Laita, and P. Allen Smith’s Gothic-inspired arched window. There are also plans to manufacture the three other designs: Karim Rashid’s organic, undulating shape; Milton Glaser’s ode to the seasons; and Sarah Susanka’s geometric design featuring a simulated divided-lite pattern.

According to Boyum, projects that fit well with custom windows include historic replications that require unique castings, functionality, or features; projects designed to reflect the personality of the owner; or uses that require specific window and door energy performance. Hardware colors and styles, wood species, clad colors, grille patterns, and glass options are all selected by the customer.

While Marvin doesn’t put restrictions on the initial concepts, there are some general limitations to actual production. “Performance, structural integrity, and installation are the keys,” says Boyum. “If we question the performance or integrity of a design idea, we will work with our customers to find creative solutions to achieve the vision or intent. In the end, we will stand behind any product we create.”

Boyum says that there are preliminary plans to display the designs at various venues around the country, including exclusive museum exhibitions and charity auctions. Marvin doesn’t plan to stop with these five designs, however. “There are also opportunities we’re exploring as the campaign grows and evolves — possibly including design/architecture schools, industry professionals, or even simply customers with great style and ideas. The sky’s the limit.” Marvin Windows and Doors, St. Paul, Minnesota. www.myMarvin.com

[Reader Service: May 2009 #205]


Tempering light
Plexi-move panels offer a clean, distinctive alternative to curtains or other shading devices. Manufactured in Belgium by Inside, the Plexiglas panels are paired with an aluminum head rail system. Available in 50 colors and four finishes — matte, gloss, transparent, and florescent — the panels come in custom sizes and can be easily used as room dividers. They work to diffuse the intensity and glare of sunlight to create an even, warm ambience in the space. Window Modes, Ltd., New York City. www.windowmodes.com

[Reader Service: May 2009 #206]


Curtain call
The recently completed Meditech Southcoast building in southeastern Massachusetts, designed by Boston-based A&D firm Payette, utilizes the Kawneer 1600 Wall System with automatic solar-tracking sunshades. While saving energy and maximizing interior daylighting, the window wall is supported from the roof, providing enough wind-load resistance to avoid interior wind-load supports, which helps enhance views and aesthetics. Kawneer North America, Norcross, Ga. www.kawneer.com

[Reader Service: May 2009 #207]