Decorative Grilles, Foundation Vent Covers, Radiator Covers, Recessed Chandeliers, Recessed Light Trims, Recessed Lighting, Return Air Filter Grilles, Speaker Covers, Speaker Grilles
Our Backstory – Inspiration-Process
As stated so perfectly by Charles Eames, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Our products are all about the details. Here is Our backstory.
When we started Beaux-Arts in 2002, our intention was to offer decorative classical solutions to common industrial eyesores such as industrial louvered heating and air conditioning vent covers, return air filter grilles, speaker covers, foundation crawl space grilles and radiator covers. Not just an easy solution like painting an industrial vent cover the same color as the wall or getting a laser cut pattern from Home Depot, but creating a functional work of art, so that the element is now an attractive feature that compliments the overall design of the space.
Inspiration – Historic Grille Designs
Our Arts and Crafts style decorative grille was originally made in New York State 1870-1914. They are the most outstanding return air grilles ever made in the USA. Andrew Carnegie placed them in most of the Carnegie Libraries from 1883 to 1929. This was our first attempt at reproducing the original grille. As you can see there is a whole in the top border which was where the damper mechanism was. At that time all we could do was reproduce the originals we had.
Before using technology we made all of our master tooling by hand. In order to create all the sizes necessary for today’s heating and air conditioning market, we used a 3′ wide solid frame. That way each grille could be used for more than just one size.
Thanks to today’s 3-D technology we have digitized this incredible design including the original chevron pattern frame to create over 60 sizes.
Our Louis XIV decorative grille design inspiration came from the classic acanthus wood carvings created by master artisans in the early 1700’s. We digitized the carvings and with 3-D software we created the beautiful Louis XIV Decorative Grille Collection.
The decorative arts are rich with beautiful grille designs. Our newest collection is based on the Roman Grille. However, it will not be a laser cut interpretation of a Roman Grille.
We have selected an appropriate historical design for the frame and a Roman Rosette for the nail heads. Here is our 3-D drawing of our new Roman Design and a rendering.
The next step in our Design Process includes creating the tool path instructions for our CNC cutting machine, which will cut the master out of a solid block of resin. The amount of time needed to cut these masters depends on the size and intricacy of the pattern. Some of our larger grilles take up to 12 days. The machine cuts all day and night, without rest or complaints.
The master is then given to our mold making department to make the tooling necessary to reproduce the design. Below is a mold to cast our RR-209 20×36 grille
We offer 14 finishes for our decorative grille collections. Our metallic finishes such as Bronze, Nickel, Pewter, Antique Brass and Aged Copper use a in-house techinque which incorporates dusting metallic mica powders into the mold prior to casting the resin. In many respects our finishing process is like powder coating, but instead of using a magnetic bonding process and heat, our method uses a chemical process to fuse the mica to the front surface of the resin.
We are the only company who offers grilles in all these beautiful finishes. The finishes are also very strong since they become a part of the final casting. Our finishes are approved for exterior use.
Since the grilles we reproduce were originally cast in the “Lost Wax” method, they have smooth clean surfaces, without air bubbles, flash, and mold seams. Since the Lost Wax casting is so labor intensive and creates more waste than product, it is prohibitively expensive in today’s economy. Currently “Sand Casting” is the only economically feasible way for modern foundries to produce product. So we met with several of the largest foundries in the USA to see if sand casting in iron was feasible. Unfortunately those castings were extremely grainy, with rough surfaces, air bubbles and flash. Even with all the automation, and man made sand, the quality was so poor the grilles lost their look and high-end appeal. We didn’t get in this business to make poor product, we want to make the best.
You can see in these images the quality of the resin casting as compared to the grainy appearance of the iron casting.
So we did our research and experimented with resin and found it the perfect material for architectural products, much superior to Sand Casting in iron. Our decision to use an expensive industrial strength resin at $50 per gallon versus scrap iron from the junk yard at $1 per pound, was based upon results. Urethane resin cast in the detailed molds that we make reproduced the quality of lost wax casting at a fraction of the cost. As a matter of fact we were blow away when we compared our resin grilles with the historic castings, every minute detail looked the same. In addition resin grilles won’t rust, rot , corroded or grow mold, which are all important advantages in the heating and air conditioning business. Plus our grilles could be used in wet, damp and exterior locations, since resin is impervious to water, which is why it is used in the boating industry.
However, we still get comments and reviews from clients, who mistakenly think that cast iron would make a superior product and that we use “plastic’ because it is cheaper that scrap iron. Here is an example from a product review from a client who loved the look, but was put off because it was made of “plastic” and therefore over priced.
“Looks incredible in our freshly remodeled bath. I was a little put off by the plastic but it seems to be well made and you can’t tell it’s plastic once it’s on the wall. Pricey but worth the splurge, esp. considering the alternatives.” D. Borealis, August 6, 2017
Sometimes I reply back that the cost is in the 3D engineering and machining we do to make 60 different sizes for each style grille we produce. To create a new style in 60 different sizes takes about two years of constant work, Since 2013 we have completed two styles we think the best in the world, our american Arts & Crafts style and our French Louis XIV style. But in our minds time doesn’t matter, our objective is to make the best decorative grilles ever.
Inspiration – Classical ceiling medallions.
To transform the plastic goof ring trim piece used with all recessed lights we created a decorative trim created from historical carvings. We were the first manufacturer to offer a classical decorative option. At that time there was only a 6″ recessed light size. Using medallions as our inspiration we even referrred to our decorative trims as ‘recessed light medallions’. Of course noone else serched for medallions for recessed lights which is why today we refer to them as decorative trims for recessed lights.
Today there are 3″, 3-3/4″, 4″, 5″, 6″, 6-3/4″ and the 4″, 5″ and 6″ LED retrofits for recessed lights. Beaux-Arts offers decorative options for all sizes of recessed lights manufactured today. Technology makes that possible.
Inspiration – Classical Boisserie Wall Panels. Another modern eyesore are large expanses of drywall. What to do with all those blank walls. Our inspiration are magnificent boisserie wall panels which combine a frame with classical ornamentation.
The epitomy of beautiful walls use wall panels in all their endless configurations and design possibilities. The problem for most modern homes is the cost of transforming drywall with wall panels. We created Architectural Wall Panel kits which simplified the installation of traditional Boisserie Wall Panels that can be installed by any DIY person. Shown here are our Louis XIV style architectural wall panels. This lovely design has a faux silk finish outside the panels and a custom damask finish inside the panels.
Walls Panels are a great choice for Two-Story Foyers with all that drywall.
The idea for our wall panels was the result of installing time consuming classical boisserie panels. We designed our wall panels with a notch in the corner which meant there was no mitering or bad seams where the moulding and corner ornamentation meet.
Another key to an easy installation is they come pre-finished in 14 beautiful finishes. Basically starting at $199 you get a frame that is easy to install. Installed in multiples you get the look of a classical wall panel layout and design.
Comments are closed