Not surprisingly, there seems to be a great deal of discussion around curtains, blinds and the ways by which we frame our windows. In some cases these mechanisms are primarily functional, serving to block out interaction with the outside world and limit the ability to look into the closed space of the home. They serve to cut off interaction. In other instances they define the environment, framing the outside world in an ornate display that turns it almost into an abstraction. The frame signals that what is going on outside is beyond the bounds of the lived experience. It also signifies that the window is something special, something with meaning and power, to the person or people within the home.
There is a powerful concept in Japan around the idea of uchi and soto. The basic concept revolves around dividing people into in-groups and out-groups. When speaking with someone from an out-group, the out-group must be honored, and the in-group humbled. This is achieved with special features of the Japanese language, which conjugates verbs based on both tense and politeness. One of the complexities of the uchi-soto relationship lies in the fact that groups are not static; they may overlap and change over time and according to situation. Obviously, the concept applies to space, place and the transitions between the two. The transitions are usually visibly marked in some way to signal that the dynamic of an interaction is about to change. The window works on a similar principle.
So what does this mean for someone designing or marketing windows, curtains, blinds, etc.? It means that the window is more than a series of feature and price points. It means that people endow windows with special meaning and that the things we use to frame them and reflect the cultural lives and realities of the people using them, and that changes the message entirely. How does the window fit into the concept of “home?” What are the various meanings of “home” and how do you design or market to those? As with so many things, it isn’t about the product, it’s about where the product fits into a person’s life. Speak to those things and you’ve changed the nature of the conversation between the product, the brand and the people involved in the buying decision.