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Barbara Bradlee Hunter is a brand representative and design consultant for Marvin Windows and Doors at 7 Tide. She has been in the design community for over 30 years. We sat down with her to learn more about the Marvin Windows and Doors Experience Center at 7 Tide.
1. What is 7 Tide?
Seven Tide opened last year in the Seaport and it is a design adventure, a one-of-a-kind experience. For Marvin, this is not only the first in the country, but also first in the industry to have this type of inspiration and design center. It is not about selling product here. We want to be distinctly different from a retailer, and instead of having product and pricing we create an experience. When you come and sit in the different rooms at 7 Tide, you’ll obviously see product, but it’s not a display. The products are integrated into real rooms—living rooms with art, and dining rooms—so you are able to really get a sense of what it would look and feel like in your home. We also thought of how to use technology in a way that would allow people to engage the senses and have a memorable visit because that’s the take-away—the experience, not an order or a price quote.
2. How do you use technology at 7 Tide?
A very important goal was to assist architects in helping their clients. We asked ourselves, how do we help a homeowner really envision what the architect has created? That’s why showing windows and doors in actual scale is so important, it’s what we built this experience around. A drawing is hard for some people to look at and envision in a real-life scenario. Here, we can project a 7-foot door onto the wall and then change it to an 8-foot door, or change a 3-foot-wide door to 4, so the homeowner can experience in real life what their door will look and feel like.
3. What is most surprising to visitors?
They are immediately surprised by the whole atmosphere of the place. It’s more calming than a shopping experience; they feel immediately relaxed, and a good conversation can flow from that because there is no pressure to buy.
4. Do you have any tips for people before they come?
People come here at so many different stages of their design process, but I think it’s good to have some idea of the kind of style or feeling of the home you are looking to create. That helps us talk about the kind of products, finishes and scale. If they have time to research, using Pinterest or magazines, they don’t have to bring them here, but it helps us zero in on what they are looking for and if they can describe what they are looking for, it can help keep us focused. If they have plans, if they’ve gotten to that point they can bring them and we can talk about options as far as how the windows and doors are designed.
5. Who comes through the door at 7 Tide?
When we first started I thought it would be more of a scheduled-appointment experience, but the majority of homeowners come as walk-ins. They’ve heard of us, or read about us in New England Living magazine, and they decide to stop by. They are also people who are in the thinking stage, they are not coming in here with plans all done. They are just starting to plan renovations or additions and they want to know what the possibilities are. The other group is made up of architects or interior designers who are bringing in their clients and their plans. They bring schematic drawings and want to explore size, scale and product options.
6. What is your favorite Marvin product?
It would have to be the Marvin Ultimate Multi-Slide Door. I think it’s extremely versatile. It can be very large and can also work on a small scale. It can be as small as 6 feet or up to 50 feet long and anywhere in between. As far as style, it’s pretty transitional looking, which I like. It can have any number of finishes, including black. Functionally, it can open all in one direction or open from the middle and go in two directions, and it has a retractable screen. It really does everything that you want a scenic door to do.
7. What do you like about being located in the Seaport?
I find it to be very vibrant and certainly, as a designer, being down here with the Boston Design Center is so great. It’s obviously growing and so full of life. It’s a stimulating neighborhood to work in.