In the commercial context, a host of factors are driving the popularity of fabric curtains.
- The urge for better energy efficiency and insulation to improve the asset’s environmental performance.
- A desire to cut heating costs in the face of rising energy costs.
- The domestication of office spaces to entice employees back after the pandemic.
This blog covers two aspects of the trend:
- The changing ways in which office planners and architects are using curtains.
- The most popular fabric trends – aesthetic and functional – ahead of 2023.
The role of curtains in modern offices
Curtains do far more than cover windows in the modern office. Increasingly, fabric curtains are taking the place of hard walls and screens to create room dividers.
Richard Webb, Specification Sales Manager at Waverley says:
“We are increasingly talking to architects and designers who want to use curtains over and above any other room dividing systems. Designers are looking for more collaboration spaces which can be used flexibly.”
This flexibility is well illustrated on the upper ground floor of Orangebox’s Smartworking Space in Clerkenwell, which uses curved curtain tracks and sheer fabrics to create an easily changed series of meeting, work and social spaces.
With many firms looking to shrink their overall office footprint, using all available space flexibly is a key consideration of facilities managers.
A wave curtain folds both sides of the track, creating what looks like a meandering wave when viewed from above. When used as a room divider, the added fullness offered by a wave curtain means that the division looks more substantial than it is.
One impact of the increase in partition curtains has been the jump in sheer fabric specifications.
“Sheer curtains are very popular to create adaptable meeting and working spaces. Sheer means you are not visually cut off; it’s more of an intimate space. It says, ‘I’m working on a task, but available if you need me.’ It’s not the same as taking a whole meeting room to yourself; there’s a more subliminal message.”
The increase in intimate spaces also mean extra demand for acoustic or noise-reducing curtain fabrics. According to Waverley’s Head of Specification, Ben Vowles, the acoustic properties of the solution is a high priority for architects and specifiers:
“When we did some architect training at Orangebox, acoustics was the number one question that people asked.”
Visually, the inspiration comes from the residential sphere.
“There is an increase in domestic-looking textures,” says Carly. “More linen-looking and hand-woven finishes.”
That echoes the drive for a more authentic, less corporate and formal feel to business spaces. Specifiers are also becoming more playful in their choice of colour.
“We are seeing a little more risk-taking, but still there is a conscious decision that specifications will stand the test of time. No one wants to choose a seasonal colour that will be out of trend in six months.”
Which brings us to the final, but not least important, trend for 2023. Specifiers seek fabrics with the least possible impact on the environment. It is no longer acceptable to change curtains simply to follow fashion. It’s becoming increasingly common to specify fabrics with a high recycled content, which can themselves be recycled. Kvadrat’s Aerio and Little Square fabrics meet the bill; the latter made from 100% recycled polyester.
Those are the key curtain trends for 2023. Curtains that make the workplace a home from home, made with a minimal environmental footprint and used responsibly to prevent heat loss while increasing the usability of the space. Beautifully, of course.