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Fabric walls spruce up business interiors

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The majority of the work of Banner Creations Inc., Minneapolis, Minn., involves banners for markets such as trade shows, point-of-purchase displays, schools and universities and special events. “We do a little bit in the fabric commercial interior area, but not a lot,” says Nora Norby, president. “And most of the work we do in this area is remodeling work, not new construction. For example, we have spruced up a couple of chiropractic clinics with fabric walls, as well as some decorative panels for offices and decorative sound abatement panels for offices and atriums,” she says.

The company is currently working with a client that does chemotherapy. “The whole purpose is to make people feel better instead of being in a sterile place,” she says. “Vinyl banners or hard panels don’t make anyone feel good.”
Again, she notes that this kind of work is about the smallest part of what the company does. “One reason is that, when people hear the cost, they lose interest, even though it is quite a bit less expensive than putting up Sheetrock®,” she says. “The problem is that people think that a fabric wall is going to be even less expensive than it actually is.”

Norby has found that, over the last four or five years, customers have backed away from spending money on any types of improvements, even though it may make their workplaces more attractive and their employees more comfortable.

Another reason for the lack of activity is that, in a lot of cases, this type of work is the last thing thought about and the first thing cut. “A lot of architects and other people don’t understand fabric very well, and they don’t know how to fit it into what they are doing,” she says. “Ideally, we would like to begin working with them at the beginning of a project and do some brainstorming, but typically they call us in near the very end.”

William Atkinson is a freelance writer and editor based in Carterville, Ill.

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