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Window Art at 7 Tide

One hundred and six parts combine to form one of Marvin’s Clad Ultimate Next Generation Double Hung Windows. At 7 Tide, a sculpture, “Exploded Window,” illustrates that fact by pulling each individual piece apart. Separately all 106—weather stripping, glass, pieces of wood, a window lock and more—are fastened with string and suspended from the ceiling, so they seem to float in the inspiration center. 

If you stand in front of the sculpture, at just the right perspective, each fragment almost merges into a double-hung window, but step over to the side and you will see the many individual pieces that are so important to the whole. “It’s mind-blowing,” says Barbara Bradlee Hunter, brand representative and design consultant at 7 Tide.

While 7 Tide was under construction, Hunter worked with Cheryl and Jeffrey Katz of C&J Katz Studio to dream up two sculptures for the soon-to-be showroom. The other sculpture, “Stacked Windows,” rises vertically towards the ceiling like a puzzle of sprouting window shapes, colors and sizes. “This experience center is part museum and part interactive, hands-on experience and both of these sculptures are meant to stimulate the imagination and make you think of windows as design elements not just building products,” says Hunter. 

When Hunter visited Marvin’s Training and Visitor Center in Warroad, Minnesota, with the C&J Katz studio team, they were intrigued by a two-dimensional “exploded” window design. They were astonished by the number of elements in a single window and felt compelled to showcase it through art at the new Boston space. The Katzes also thought of Mexican artist Damian Ortega, whose work had been on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art near 7 Tide in the Seaport. The artist is known for his installations that separate familiar objects—from a Coca Cola bottle to a Volkswagen beetle—into hundreds of pieces. 

Damian Ortega, “Cosmic Thing” at ICA Boston

With those two influences, C&J Katz Studio created “Exploded Window” at 7 Tide with the help of InterEx, an Amesbury-based company that works with museums and galleries on installations. The same teams designed the second sculpture, “Stacked Windows,” in which different window shapes, colors and glass textures grow out of the base, producing a visual explanation of what Marvin is capable of designing when it comes to windows. “Marvin is a company that is made to order. There’s no inventory, there’s nothing sitting around waiting to be shipped. Every window is made to your specifications—the exact size you need, the exact shape you need, the type of glass you might want, the color of the interior finish, the color of the exterior finish—and this sculpture shows that.”

At the base of the sculpture is a quote from Frank Marvin, a third generation company leader, which summarizes both concepts:
“Some companies see windows as they are, and they say, ‘Why?’
We dream of windows that never were and say, ‘Why not?’ 
I think that’s very typical of the whole company.” 

A funny connection happened during the creative process for these two sculptures. Aaron Linn, now an architectural rep for Marvin, had been working at InterEx as a project manager. When he began working on the 7 Tide sculptures, he became intrigued by the company. “I had been involved in the design/build community for a while and recognized Marvin as one of the best windows available. What really struck me was the concept behind 7 Tide. I remember thinking how unique this must be in the window industry—to provide a space for people to come and explore ideas without the retail pressure of a showroom,” says Linn. “Fast forward six months, when I saw the job posting. The position itself appealed to me, but layering on the creativity and forward thinking displayed by them during the 7 Tide project made the position irresistible.”

Both installations seem to be full of happy surprises and as visitors walk through the door, the art continues to initiate good connections. “These pieces get a lot of attention,” says Hunter. “They really tell stories about the product and have stimulated tons of conversation and amazement.”

Photographs by Megan Burns