Collaboration Brings Art to Unexpected Places

We have heard it all before—more times than we’d like to, in fact—the recession of 2008 has changed the face of design forever. As in all great paradigm shifts, there are winners and there are losers, and in this brave new world, it seems, the winners are those who are willing to work together.

Design collaboration has seen a steady increase in recent years. Some companies are looking for a partner to share the burdensome costs of research and development; while others are clamoring to create new and exciting products that will differentiate them in a tight-squeezed market.  All are searching for ways to move beyond choices and patterns that have gotten them to the point they’re at now.

We’ve seen Nike and Maharam team up to crate a small run of premium material sneakers in 2010.  And this September, socialite Lilly Pulitzer and fabric producer Lee Jofa announced a new textile collection they created together.

But while these and similar partnerships have been mostly about creating appealing new products, one new collaborative effort has stood out among them, simply because it created a new product category: roller shades that bring fine art into a room.

Just last year Hunter Douglas Hospitality and Farmboy Fine Arts came together for a new endeavor: turning a basic window shade into the focal point of a room.

Together they launched The Farmboy Fine Arts Collection—unique window coverings that can change the way interior designers think of art, window treatments, and how people can experience design in a hotel or healthcare setting.  Artistic innovation is at the heart of this endeavor.


The collaboration debuted four collections at HD Expo this past May. The New Romantic, L’Automatiste, The Cubo-Futurist, and The Minimalist were the first to launch. Its latest addition, The New Realism, debuted at HD Boutique in Miami this month.

“This collection moves in a new direction,” said Karen Kops, vice president of product development at Hunter Douglas Hospitality, of the newest offerings. “It’s a great reflection of what the Farmboy Fine Arts Collection is doing: looking at the window in a new way, and bringing inspiration to hospitality design.”

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Even before its official launch, W Hotels selected artistic shades for a New York property.  The designers were intrigued by the opportunity to put art in an unexpected area of the room. This solution also served a practical purpose–many urban hotels need to strategically cover up unsightly views. Similarly, designers of healthcare spaces can use the roller shades to create more soothing atmospheres for patients who occupy hospital rooms.

As such collaborations prove to be financially successful, the marketplace can expect to see more of them in the years ahead.

Categories: Healthcare Architecture, Products