Luxury Curtain Creations in Bushwick
In a Brooklyn showroom, state-of-the-art draperies magically unfold.
According to Erik Bruce, a well-made curtain doesn’t necessarily have to be all ruffles and frills.“Window treatments have been stuck in the 19th century for too long,” argues Bruce, a Bushwick-based drapery designer. “Most are geared toward punched-out windows, not today’s modern architecture with glass façades.”
Long before opening his atelier nearly a decade ago, Bruce got his start assisting Broadway costume designers in the late 1990s. He often experimented with “unusual materials, not just textiles.”
Industry connections led him to moonlight for well-known curtain designer Mary Bright, with whom he worked full-time for more than a decade. “She was a groundbreaker in the way she collaborated with architects,” Bruce says of his late boss.
A Kansas native who holds an M.F.A. in costume design and scenography from Rutgers University, Bruce has applied the same boundary-pushing ethos to his own business. His draperies “tell a story” inspired by a room’s materials and architectural features. Case in point: window treatments for the Thomas Heatherwick designed Lantern House, a West Chelsea condominium featuring lantern-shaped bay windows.
“The challenge was to craft something that expands and contracts when functioning,” says Bruce, who also counts Calvin Klein, Supreme, and designers such as Amy Lau as clients. “With all that geometry, you can’t just put a roman shade on it.”
Each new job begins with initial sketches, followed by a visit to the site. Bruce’s team is then able to assess the architecture in three dimensions rather than two, in advance of creating a prototype. Once fabric arrives at the workroom, Bruce’s team gets to work. It is first inspected and cut on long tables, then finished on the sides by Bruce’s tailors. Grommets, snaps, and other specialty hardware take the place of traditional tape, affecting how the fabric hangs and creating a seamless appearance from every angle.
The completed piece is mounted to the ceiling for a week, allowing for natural shrinking or stretching, after which it is steamed and then installed on-site. “Our techniques are determined by each specific material and the application for which it’s being used,” Bruce says. “The process is like the fashion industry’s haute couture, rather than ready to wear.”
The print version of this article appeared in the October 2020 issue of NYC&G with the headline: Curtain Calls.