Naperville designer Susan Gailani receives top honors at IWCE 2019 in Nashville

  • Susan Gailani receiving her awards at the International Window Covering Expo in Nashville this month.

    Susan Gailani receiving her awards at the International Window Covering Expo in Nashville this month.

Courtesy of Nichole Day
Posted4/7/2019 9:08 PM

Susan Gailani of Gailani Designs in Naperville took top honors in the Commercial division, and a second place win for Decorative Hardware and Trim in the 2019 VISION Design & Workroom Competitions at the International Window Coverings Expo in Nashville, Tenn.

The annual competition, presented and sponsored by Window Fashion VISION magazine, recognizes the industry's best designs and fabrications in a variety of categories.


This one-of-a-kind international competition is the Academy Awards of the window coverings industry.

A panel of distinguished window covering design and workroom experts reviewed over 200 entries received from designers in the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan.

1st Place Award -- Commercial

The project: The owner of an event venue wanted to replace the early-1990s swag treatments on 17 arched windows in the building's spacious entry and banquet halls with a fresh new look that coordinates with the neoclassic design of the space.

In the entry hall, board-mounted panels of warm winter white fabric were installed inside the window niches. Three-finger, butterfly-style pleats embellished with crystal trim define each pleat and add a bright sparkle.

In the banquet hall, sheer, soft white sparkly fabric panels are pulled to the side with tiebacks. Susan used a different style from the entry hall panels to create variety yet maintained cohesion by using the same trim on the tiebacks.

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The result: The client loves the modern design and the soft-white fabrics because they provide a canvas-like backdrop for whatever colors and themes customers use to decorate their events. He also loves the sparkly trim because it comes alive when disco-type lighting is used for celebrations.

2nd Place Award -- Decorative Hardware and Trim

The project: A sleek, contemporary living room featuring a curved wall with a textural copper-and-silver finish and five tall, narrow windows. The room itself inspired Susan to envision big, bold and bright decorative hardware and trim, and the modern upholstery and eye-catching metallic-copper coffee table provided additional inspiration. Because the clients don't like floor lamps, and because they entertain frequently, Susan suggested back-lit crowns to reflect light off the ceiling.

A certified electrician provided guidance on installing LED lights within the crowns, and then Susan designed the placement of the lights to create the most dramatic effect.

Two rows of lights were installed. One shines upward to create a curved light on the ceiling, enhancing the height of the windows and creating harmony with the curved accent wall; the other shines downward, creating artistic beams of light on the drapery sheers that help illuminate the room.


A diamond-crystal trim in the center of the crowns creates visual interest, a detail that's repeated on the tiebacks. Sheer draperies hanging under the crowns nearly match the wall color, reducing contrast between the wall and the draperies which makes the room look larger. Both rows of light are on dimmers for drama and entertaining ambiance.

The result: The clients are delighted and said the back-lit window treatments never fail to impress their guests.

"When you walk into a room that is well designed, it can have an impact on how you feel on a daily basis," says Susan. "I am a big believer that everyone deserves to live in an environment that reflects their style and makes them feel good about themselves. There is nothing more joyful to me than to see the happiness my clients experience after we finish an installation."

Susan Gailani founded Gailani Designs Inc. has been serving the Chicago metropolitan area since 1992 and has been a member of Exciting Windows since 2006. She is an Allied member of the ASID and Certified By WCAA. The goal at Gailani Designs is to bring happiness, comfort, and a sense of pride to their client's homes and businesses with unique and innovative designs.

The VISION Design and Workroom Competition highlights the skills and design achievements of individual designers, design firms, and workrooms. Each year, the competition features a wide range of categories including curtains and draperies, specialty treatments, and whole room integration.

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