GALE Pacific is giving people more ways to stay outdoors with innovative shade structures.
Increased happiness, energy, focus, creativity—these are just some of the “side effects” of exposure to the outdoors. After years of research proving these benefits change people’s moods and even increase productivity in the workplace, companies are finally taking notice and starting to take as many elements of the indoor office environment outside as possible. “In an increasingly technical world, where people are stuck in front of a computer from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., people want to get outside. People like to be outside,” says Brent Derbecker, national brand manager for shade and shelter at Superior Recreational Products.
Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have already made strides in creating outdoor spaces for their employees—and the demand is growing. “We are seeing a lot more advances in design as architects are working to figure out ways to move offices outside,” says Gretchen Fix, vice president of marketing for outdoor fabric manufacturer GALE Pacific. But, moving the inside out comes with its own set of challenges—including protection from the elements while maintaining comfort.
Comfortable and Safe
An industry leader in advanced knitted and polymer fabrics, GALE Pacific developed the world’s first shade cloth knitting technology in the 1970s for agriculture and horticulture applications. The company later expanded to include more everyday solutions with the invention of higher UV block shade fabrics. Today all of the company’s fabrics provide optimal UV protection.
Of course, when designing an outdoor office space, it’s important to consider when the space will be used. “You need to consider the place of the sun at the time of day the structure will be used and orientate it in a way that will provide the most shade when users need it most,” Fix says. The size of the space is also critical as, the larger the space, the heavier the fabric should be for optimal stability.
The material of the shade structure can also have a big impact. “A lot of times it’s warmer under a shade structure; that’s not the case with our fabrics,” Fix says. Even in high-temperature environments, comfort is easy to achieve with GALE Pacific products. The fabric’s knitted design allows air to flow through, reducing temperatures by as much as 35%.
Fabric shade structures give designers more creative freedom for their outdoor spaces. Shade sails can be arranged in countless formations for an artistic and aesthetically pleasing approach. A variety of color options gives designers the chance to further brighten up the outdoors or create a calming oasis. “We see a lot of people wanting to use their company colors, school colors, and sports team colors,” Fix says. GALE Pacific’s original knitted shade fabric Commercial 95 comes in 21 colors; Commercial Heavy 430 comes in 16 colors, and the newly launched Commercial Dualshade 350 comes in 12 core color combinations with an additional 24 made-to-order options.
Launched in June, the Commercial Dualshade 350 “gives a little twist to the tension structure,” Fix says. The patent-pending knitting pattern uses two color yarns, giving the appearance of one color on one side and a complementary color on the other that, when put into a tension structure, creates a shimmery effect. The unique knitting process creates a stronger, more dimensionally stable fabric with an iridescent look. “This was really our way to inject innovation and do something nobody else can do. This is a really cool option for building owners who are looking to provide a unique space for workers. It truly sets us apart from the competition.”
Derbecker says GALE Pacific’s vast array of color options has also been helpful for clients on a budget. “The cool thing is you can use a very simple design but choose a fabric color, like ivory, to complement a frame color, like bronze, to create a very clean, classy look on an inexpensive structure.”
Attention to Detail
GALE Pacific has its hands in the fabric manufacturing process from beginning to end. R&D works with suppliers to determine the chemical makeup needed to achieve different performance and color requirements to make the yarns used to knit the fabric. All fabrics are free of lead and phthalates and meet California’s Proposition 65 standards. “We’re involved in all the raw materials that go into making our yarns and fabrics and have a heightened sense of quality, formation, and end inspection,” Fix says. “Protecting people sits at the core of what we do, and we take the correct measures to protect those that both produce and purchase our products.” The company has safety teams in all of its offices and plants to further ensure operations are performed in the best way possible.
All products are Greenguard and Oeko-Tex Standard 100–certified and are 100% recyclable. The company is currently working to improve fire retardant formulations, too. “Our whole goal and foundation as a company is centered around safety and sustainability, and that means making a product that helps to create a safe and sustainable environment to gather outdoors,” she says.
The company stands by its quality products. All fabrics have a UV degradation warranty, ranging from 10 to 15 years depending on the fabric, though often the products last even longer.