It takes a tremendous number of creative minds to come up with a concept like 7 Tide. Over the coming months, we’ll bring you an insider’s view from those who are responsible for the inspiring and innovative spaces inside the walls at 7 Tide Street in Boston Seaport.
When Marvin Windows & Doors decided to join the 7 Tide adventure to open the company’s first-in-the-country Marvin brand inspiration center, they turned to C & J Katz Studio, one of the most innovative interior design firms in Boston. Recently owner Jeffrey Katz shared some of his thoughts about the project.
You’ve designed iconic restaurants for great chefs like Barbara Lynch, retail spaces like Gemvara on Newbury Street and Crumbs bake shop in Manhattan, not to mention numerous workspaces at MIT and Wellesley College and iconic homes throughout the region. Was Marvin at 7 Tide like any of the other projects you’ve done?
No, Marvin at 7 Tide is unique. We didn’t know of any other company in the residential design space that was doing anything like what they envisioned here. The closest thing would be Clarke, their partner at 7 Tide. That made the project exciting and challenging. Marvin didn’t want this to be a showroom. They wanted it to be inspiring and experiential. Most people don’t think of windows and doors as very sexy, however, light-filled rooms are. That’s what inspired us. How could we create a place that expanded the idea of what windows and doors actually mean in your life? We wanted to communicate the lifestyle that windows can represent.
The Marvin space feels more like a museum or gallery than a showroom. That’s obviously by design?
Yes. We visited Marvin’s headquarters in Warroad, Minnesota. The company has an amazing history as an American manufacturer. Their plant is inspiring and they have a Marvin Museum there, which stirred a lot of ideas. After that trip, we felt like we understood the kind of values that inform the brand. Then we started to think about how everything in the 7 Tide space could be part of the brand story.
The first thing that might catch a visitor’s eye is the wall of yellow roses. How did that come about?
Well, a distinguishing characteristic of the Marvin logo is their yellow rose. So, we embraced that element. It’s important to their brand story and part of their heritage. By utilizing it in many ways, in the felt roses on the wall, photographically, in upholstery and signage, we visually help to unfold the story being told in the space. That wall of roses is an art installation of almost 400 hand-made felt roses made by Amy Main – coincidentally – in Minnesota. We found her on Etsy and she was wonderful to work with and the synchronicity of her location wasn’t lost on anyone.
What was the genesis of the “blown apart window” installation that hangs in the entrance?
We had seen an exhibit in a flat case at the Marvin Museum, where all the pieces of a Marvin window were laid out and mounted on the wall. They told us that everyone who visits stops to look at it and is amazed at how many parts there are in their seemingly simple product. So, we envisioned using this in a more dynamic form. It is truly amazing to think that your double-hung window, when crafted by Marvin, has 106 parts. We recalled an art exhibit at Boston ICA several years ago by Mexican-born artist Damian Ortega, where he disassembled a Volkswagen Beetle, and that was our inspiration for this piece. It speaks to the quality and craftsmanship of these products.
And then there’s a window tower on the other side of the space…
Every Marvin window is a custom piece. It isn’t manufactured until a customer specifies exactly what they want. So that installation became an interesting way to showcase the various shapes and sizes and types of glass that are available to homeowners. It’s designed to spark the imagination of the architect and the homeowner. It suggests shapes and materials you never would have considered for a window or door.
On the other side of Marvin’s space, a visitor encounters miniature homes. What was the inspiration there?
Every year Marvin hosts The Architect’s Challenge and hundreds of architects from all over the country submit projects in which they’ve used Marvin Windows and Doors. We know from experience how enticing architectural models are. So as we were designing the showroom, showcasing The Architect’s Challenge seemed like a good idea. We commissioned 3-D printed models of six submissions that represent various home styles in the region and showcase how much the window and door designs impacted the look of the houses. Even the architects who come to visit the space can’t believe the accuracy and detail. Everyone loves a dollhouse display and this one is museum quality. The architects who designed these houses are even signing the pedestals that they are displayed on.
There are also some very high-tech features in the space. Tell us about those.
It is a wonderful combination of art and technology. We designed stand-alone rooms inside the space, where visitors can sit in a living room or dining room and appreciate the importance of the windows and doors. We lit the spaces from the outside, so that the feeling of light shining in the window can be appreciated. Inside the living room space, there’s a projection wall where Marvin’s new technology allows an architect or homeowner to actually see life-size windows and doors and the many different configurations that are possible. They can instantly make a 7-foot door transform into a ten-foot door so you can envision the difference in your home. Then at the end of the tour, you enter a resource center with a smart table where you can design your own windows, complete with interior and exterior colors, style and more. This is a very tactile, almost work room kind of space and we wanted it to encourage the visitor to touch and feel the quality of the products. By the end of your time there, you have a real appreciation for Marvin quality and why all windows and doors are not the same.