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Shading with style
Friday, 14 August 2015 00:00

Panel blinds are an interesting hybrid and Louvolite hopes to corner the market

Some years ago one can recall visiting a customer’s home and seeing a product that appeared to be a cross between a roller blind and a vertical blind – a sort of “hybrid” blind.

The product was fitted to a patio door and featured multiple wide strips of translucent fabric attached to a multi-channel headrail about 5” (1250mm) wide and 1Ž2” (12.7mm) deep.

The product was corded and when the cord was pulled the attractive panels retracted in sequence until the window was clear of fabric. The panels did not rotate or tilt, they just seemed to glide across the opening in a very elegant and sophisticated way.  The product was of course a panel blind and in reality the opportunity for the product to gain a foothold in the marketplace of the 70’s was squashed well and truly by the advance of the vertical blind. However the panel blind has never lost that air of sophistication and luxury.

A few years ago some European shows started to feature panel blinds using soft fabrics hemmed and prepared by machinists. This interest prompted Louvolite to re-investigate the opportunity of the panel blind concept. Of course the product would have to be re-invented somewhat to ensure that it could be made using the manufacturing skills and techniques employed by today’s blindmakers. In addition, Louvolite had to create a method to allow the blindmaker to manufacture and price panel blinds in a way which properly reflected the costs they would incur and yet provide the consumer with an impressive product at a reasonable price.

The unique Louvolite roller blind manufacturing method allowed blindmakers to simply cut the exact shape of the panels required. The Louvolite no sew no glue bottom bar system finishes the bottom of each panel professionally and can be adapted to feature contrasting colour to the body of the panel if need be.

After a lot of hard work by the technical team at Louvolite a solution was agreed upon and manufacturing parameters were discussed and fixed.  A selection of fabrics from the then current Louvolite roller blind offering were brought together to create the first Panel Blind presentation book. Of course with many products it’s not the fabric samples that sell the product it’s the supporting promotional material. This is even more true with Panel Blinds due to the consumers limited knowledge of the product. To remedy this, photography was carefully considered and shooting was set up in real homes and apartments – in the writer’s eyes the Panel blind photography is some of the best Louvolite has ever produced. The images are timeless and absolutely show what the product is all about.

Today there are more supply companies following the path that Louvolite pioneered. Panel blinds are uniquely suited to covering large expanses of glass or dividing living spaces bring definition and order to a large area.
The Louvolite Panel Blind fabric offering has changed and expanded too.

Today the product can be included in the Roller/Roman fabric collection book which also features the wide range of accessories available to dress the blind. New fabric colours and designs are also included which again lift the image of the programme and expand the options available to the consumer.  Systems are of course available with child safety wand operation.

Panel blinds are easily available as components and fabrics or as complete blinds from a number of established manufacturers.
The panel blind might not be for every home, but for those homes where the elegance and simple sophistication of the product works with the architecture. There may be no better solution for shading with style.



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