More windows, less shopping at experiential inspiration center in the heart of Boston
There’s a transformation happening in the Seaport neighborhood, adjacent to the Boston Harbor where designers and creative folks are flocking to spec textiles, furniture, lighting, antiques and fine art. And in a historic building adjacent to Dry Dock #3, a new space is rethinking the way that visitors experience windows and doors.
Call it a number of things – a design experience, a creative oasis or a brand inspiration center – just don’t call it a showroom. Marvin at 7 Tide isn’t about selling product or reviewing technical specs on windows and doors, it’s about fostering intrigue, curiosity and a true emotional connection in an age where inspiration abounds, but the time to slow down and experience a brand without pressure is rare.
As a longtime distributor of Marvin Windows and Doors and Integrity Windows and Doors, A.W. Hastings has a number of retail partnerships throughout the Boston area. Two years ago, after establishing a relationship with Clarke, the regional distributor of high-end kitchen appliance brands Sub-Zero and Wolf, they began to get the sense that they could develop a new kind of experience. By engaging the senses, they wanted to initiate dialogue and relationships with homeowners, architects and builders who previously didn’t consider windows and doors part of the inspiration phase of designing a project.
The question became, what could this space be if it wasn’t specifically about shopping for windows and doors?
“It was interesting to ask ourselves ‘what is our product if it’s not a tangible item,’” says Bruce Boisen, Director of Sales for A.W. Hastings. “That’s a challenge – you leave those conversations with a pit in your stomach because it’s not always totally clear. But by creating this environment, taking product out of it and digging deeper into the soul of who we are, what we do and how people can connect with us in an experience has been so gratifying.”
Walking into the Marvin at 7 Tide experience that now shares space with Sub-Zero and Wolf’s high-end consumer playground, it’s immediately evident that it’s a comfortable and free-flowing space. You begin to recognize cues that aren’t obvious at first glance, like a textured wall full of yellow felt roses and a 3D installation bringing life to the 150 or more individual pieces that make up a Marvin Next Generation Double Hung window. A tower of windows in varying shapes and configurations hint at glass options, colors and shapes in a form factor fitting of a gallery or museum.
“We intentionally looked to other industries as a point of reference, including examples from high-end retail and the restaurant industry,” says Miana Hoyt Dawson, Marketing Strategy Manager. “We drew on how those spaces make you feel, while at the same time bringing the experience to life in a way that’s authentic to Marvin rather than replicating what we already see in the window and door industry.”
In an area that’s modeled after a comfortable living room, a technology-enabled space brings product off of paper and inspiration into reality as they simulate for a 5’2” woman, for example, how it actually feels to stand next to a 10’ door, or show a client how a particular pattern of simulated divided lights might affect their sight lines looking into their backyard. It’s here, and on an interactive touch-screen design table for experimenting with color and finishes, that visitors begin to understand and consider how windows and doors can transform a space. It’s about having the power to co-create, to take the reins and personalize options for their own space.
“Marvin’s tagline is ‘Built Around You,’” says Boisen. “When it comes to 7 Tide, this means an experience that’s built around curating your thoughts and dreams, the process of building your ideal space in an environment where you’re experiencing more than just a physical product.”
When considering the need for a new type of experience around windows and doors, Boisen and team addressed a kind of “social hierarchy” they see developing around the selection of building products, a hierarchy that favors kitchens, baths, countertops and flooring. They want to broaden these horizons, to provide education, inspiration, co-creation and validation that demonstrate the place of a window or a door in these experiential decisions.
“It’s something you experience the moment you approach your home from the street, when you’re in bed at night looking at the snowfall outside your window, and we hope to help people recognize the value and importance of wood and light in their lives; how it enriches the things we do every day in our homes,” he said.
Although the Hastings team didn’t have many preconceived notions about how industry professionals would utilize their experiential space, they did set out to build it in support of them and in service to the homeowners or clients they are working with. Every choice made with design partner C&J Katz Studio was deliberate – from furniture to flooring, fabric and colors so it would, on an underlying level, be both relaxing and reflective of the brand.
“When someone comes to Marvin at 7 Tide, we are offering a calm environment hosted by a staff that will guide a homeowner through the experience at their own pace to help validate a recommendation, or provide light education so they feel more confident advocating for themselves throughout the process,” says Hoyt Dawson, “It’s all about support with no pressure, and a need at this stage for a different kind of experience.”
When architects come into the space with a client, often more than once, simply to have a cup of coffee and nurture the client’s ideas, that’s what this space is all about. As Boisen points out, they could have gone to Starbucks, but they chose to come here.
“There’s something about this environment that’s bigger than windows and doors,” he says. “People want to come back, enjoy and be a part of it. It engages their senses. It’s not about product and it shows that in today’s hectic high paced social and digital lifestyle, people are looking for something that makes them feel good, and I think that we’ve created that.”
Learn more about Marvin at 7 Tide.