Control & Automation

Lutron Demos Kirbe Motorized Shade System

Motorized window treatment eliminates "stack-back" and reduces wrinkling.

Arlen Schweiger · November 16, 2009

As a custom installer, one of the product categories you really need to show potential clients is lighting control.

The wow factor comes through in demos, and the light bulb, so to speak, will go off in the customer’s head.

Part of that category includes motorized window treatments and shades, which are definitely more exciting to see in motion than hear about. Lutron Electronics recently had a chance to wow dealers at an event in New York City’s New Museum.

Lutron was unveiling its Kirbe system that debuted at CEDIA Expo 2009. It’s an industry-first motorized window treatment that pulls drapery vertically and completely out of the way, tucking it neatly into housing.

Kirbe developer and Lutron engineer Dave Kirby was on hand for the event. He says one of the key traits of the system is that it eliminates “stack-back,” otherwise known as the bunching that occurs on the sides when drapes are drawn horizontally. “You don’t want to lose a third of the window view with that,” he says.

Unlike other systems, the Kirbe is limited to more sheer fabric than thicker types because of the way it doubly overlaps the bar when rolled up. There are 14 polyester-based sheer fabrics that also reduce wrinkling and come in customizable 96x96-inch length and width.

Origins of Kirbe

The system can be used with both roller and blackout shading, which can be dropped or raised simultaneously, or one instead of the other — whichever manner, at the touch of a button. Looking out of the 7th floor of the New Museum, that wow factor came across perfectly to illustrate the Kirbe’s form and function.

It also illustrated the shade system’s origins and potential commercial application, as one can only imagine all of the high-rise, big-window views out of Manhattan hotels that could benefit from the Kirbe.

“What started it is that our owner Joel Spira saw this fabric and really liked it. He was in a hotel room and liked the way it shimmered in the light,” Kirby says. “He wanted to make a shade out of it, he wanted that soft look. But it was more sheer than what we’d done for roller shades.”

Insert the privacy/blackout shade and, voila, the combination makes for an ideal solution in which you want some natural light to enter a room but not overwhelm it, or you can block it all if you want.

Aside from the obvious commercial and residential applications like aesthetics and controlling a room’s solar gain, the system could be fun for entertainment areas or as room dividers. 

“In a theater you may want to just use it like a stage curtain, for a certain wow factor,” Kirby suggests. Over a fixed projection screen could certainly be compelling, especially to the lady of the house. And it gives you one more reason to demo motorized shades.

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  About the Author

Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro, Commercial Integrator and Security Sales & Integration magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Arlen at

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  Article Topics

News · CEDIA Expo · Joel Spira · Lighting Control · Lutron · Motorized Shade · Shades · All Topics
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