Hartmann&Forbes offers an experience combining hand-woven textiles, using artisan craftsmanship, with cutting-edge innovation. And the resulting product is bespoke window coverings for luxurious smart homes. Kristopher Grytten is the company’s automation specialist. His affinity for technology and hit-the-ground-running work ethic are of the many reasons Hartmann&Forbes is a highly esteemed partner in the home automation industry. In a recent interview, Kristopher gave us the opportunity for an exclusive look at the eco-savvy Oregon based company.

Artisan Handweaving

What was the inception of Hartman&Forbes?
Hartmann&Forbes was established in 1998 and is the passion of its founder Michael Jones. As a former international trade merchant, Michael frequently traveled abroad. On a business trip to Southeast Asia early in his career, he was captivated by watching artisans as they practiced the traditional art of handweaving. He remembers being mesmerized as craftsmen harvested organic plants and delicately hand-tied them into natural weft fibers. Using age-old techniques, they transformed these fibers into exquisitely handmade textiles.

Michael realized not only his admiration for the ancient art form but also that this small cottage industry represented an opportunity to build a sustainable business that could serve the luxury design marketplace, while at the same time, perpetuate the craft for future generations. As Michael has stated, “I don’t want to change the world as many do, I merely want to preserve it by advancing the art of handweaving so the next generations can enjoy its beauty.”

How is the current business philosophy elevating the position of your company?
Our commitment to sustainability is huge. From day one Hartmann&Forbes has put the environment at the forefront of all our business practices. We are also passionate about helping our clients create healthy harmonious spaces that offer a sense of balance and renewal.

What sets the materials you use apart from your competitors?
What really sets us apart is that our textiles are handwoven, from natural materials, on wooden looms up to 180” wide, without a seam. Woven to the size of the window, every shade is a one-of-one piece of art that also serves a function.

Local, Green, and Sustainable

Describe what makes your company green and sustainable?
We cultivate each rapidly-renewable fiber in well-managed ecosystems, to ensure that we leave a smaller environmental footprint. We initiated Project Green in 2005 to foster a company culture of environmental responsibility and we created a window covering reclamation program where we take back used window coverings from our clients and donate, reuse, or recycle parts of the shade, keeping them out of landfills. All of this and more has landed us on Oregon’s Best Green Workplaces list for eight consecutive years, rising to #32 in 2019.

Your materials are rapidly renewable. Can you enlighten us on this?
We use fibers such as banana stem, ramie, arrowroot, river reed, jute, abaca, vetiver, palm, water hyacinth, walingi, bamboo, and cork in our natural products. All rapidly renewable, which means they will regenerate within a 10-year or shorter cycle.

Can you tell us about some of your farmers and artisans behind your product?
We work with local farmers within close proximity to our weaving facilities where we select the finest rapidly-renewable materials. Local villagers prepare the raw fibers for the looms, an important skill that has been passed down through generations. Then our master weavers combine skills perfected over time with innovative techniques that allow them to work in synchronization on the handloom. Finally, each hand-woven shade is made by American craftsmen in the Pacific Northwest, with a level of custom workmanship unique in today’s marketplace.

How is Hartmann & Forbes keeping the artisan tradition of the loom alive?
Without the constant effort and attention to this craft, these traditions would slowly fade into a distant chapter of our history. The entire team at Hartmann&Forbes is always pushing the limits of design with our weaving process, which in turn inspires Interior Designers around the world to specify our products. It’s this cycle that spurs on the future of tradition.

Smart and Stylish

How does Hartmann&Forbes fit into the home automation world?
Our integration channel is experiencing high growth because we offer the largest collection of natural shade designs, with over 500 hand-woven unique weaves, which can be combined with the cutting edge technology that integration firms already know and trust. We give them the ability to provide a much wider range of materials, with industry-leading design befitting of the ultra-high-end homes they work on.

How has smart home automation changed your approach to shading design?
We always lead with design, it is the beating heart of our business and that will never change, but smart home automation allows our clients convenience, safety, security and also helps manage heat gain and loss, which significantly reduces energy costs.

On the subject of home automation, what are your clients most excited about?
Definitely, voice command for everyday household tasks, which includes window coverings.

Can you tell us about your favorite Hartmann&Forbes product?
I have a soft place in my heart for all of the products that we create at Hartmann&Forbes because every step of our process breathes life into our materials. Making products that are touched by human hands every step of the way is something we have been slowly losing since the Industrial Revolution.

The Acoustic Architects Connection

When did you first meet Acoustic Architects?
I was first introduced to the Acoustic Architects team, not long ago, through their Crestron Representative Christian Bazan. We have an OEM program with Crestron where 66 of our weaves are available in CDT. Christian was extremely impressed with their company and the level of professionalism they bring to the table, he proceeded in setting up an introduction meeting.

How are you and Acoustic Architects working symbiotically to meet each other’s needs as home automation experts?
Hartmann&Forbes provides Acoustic Architects a unique line of materials to utilize when it makes sense for their clients, while Acoustic Architects offers us a trusted partner, a company capable of commissioning ultra-high-end systems.

“Would you recommend Acoustic Architects to your clients, and why?”
Yes 100%, their work speaks for itself.

Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.

If you would like to learn more about artisan window coverings for your space, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.

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