When it comes to building and designing windows in commercial spaces, it’s easy to rely on the old standbys: curtains and blinds. While these two models have stood the test of time, they may no longer be the best choices for such important settings.
Available space has been shrinking in the retail and office sectors for decades. Offices are getting smaller and more enclosed. To increase their number of tenants, many office building planners are creating internal offices that contain only one or two windows, or no windows at all.
Big box retail outlets are losing ground to smaller, boutique-style stores, e-commerce websites like Amazon, and other trends. And while retail sales are still a large part of the economy, the future likely holds a different model than the mega-store.
All-in-all, access to windows and natural light is on the decline in commercial spaces. In office spaces especially, workers are starved for natural light. This lack of light can contribute to stress levels and create an oppressive atmosphere.
But the fact remains, many offices require the privacy that window treatments provide. Sunlight in the morning and evening causes glare and even overheating. Windows need to be covered in one way or another to create privacy and reduce glare.
Curtains: The Cumbersome Privacy Window Treatment
Curtains are a nice design touch in a home or in a Victorian-era parlor, but they aren’t usually the best solution for commercial spaces. They block out light entirely and are difficult and expensive to clean. In cramped office environments, they may even get in the way.
For most commercial settings, curtains are an extravagance that is unaffordable. They look great in a hotel lobby or dining room, but they aren’t the best choice for a start-up or a small store. Because of this, most architects, interior designers, and commercial buyers turn to blinds.
Blinds: The Boring Privacy Window Treatment
Venetian blinds can be found in apartment buildings, stores, and offices all over the country. In fact, they are often seen as the go-to solution for covering windows. They do create privacy and let some light through, but they ruin the view in the process.
What’s more, there’s nothing particularly interesting about blinds. There are some solutions out there that are perhaps more stylish than the typical plastic brands, but they often need to be cleaned as well. Blinds also have a tendency to break, and replacing them can be expensive.
Digitally Printed Privacy Window Treatments
Today, privacy window treatments can be printed and applied directly to glass windows. Although this technology has been around for years now, not all architects and building planners consider it as an option.
There have also been exciting advances in this area. Frosted windows are useful for creating privacy and transmitting natural light, but the used to always block the view. Now, architects and commercial building planners can use optically clear materials to only block the view from specific angles.
For example, an office space on the fifth floor of a building can block the view from below but maintain their view of the skyline. A retail store integrated into a city building can block the view from above to while maintaining the view from the street.
Perhaps most importantly, privacy window treatments can be combined with traditional treatments like curtains and blinds. The film is placed directly onto the glass, so curtains and blinds only need to be used when absolutely necessary.
The rest of the time, office workers, retail workers, shoppers, and visitors can enjoy natural light and a view of the outside without sacrificing privacy.