Sperry’s sleek, aerodynamic designs are strongly influenced by his nautical background. “My passion for architectural fabric structures came from my beginnings as a sail-maker. I was taught the art of sail-making and design by my father, and I began using these techniques within other fabric structures,” he explains. Of his latest designs, Sperry says, “The use of marine rigging and sailmaking techniques makes for a very strong, graceful, and refined canopy.” The benefit of custom design work by a craftsman, he adds, is that the fabric structure can stand out as much or as little as a homeowner desires.
One of the more common fabric architecture selections for a home is a tension awning (sometimes called a shade sail). The tension between cloth, posts, and non-intrusive anchors on a home’s walls keeps the awning aloft, requiring minimal framing. Tension awnings are crafted in a variety of shapes and their corners can be fastened at varying levels, creating a slight twist in the fabric. This twist is multifunctional—it assists in shedding water and adds interest and artistry to the project’s finished appearance. A tension awning communicates modernity with purposeful understatement.
A frame awning is comprised of a cloth shell over a wooden or metal structure, and two of the most popular types are pergolas and window awnings. A pergola is a latticed framework that typically covers and delineates seating areas. While it provides partial shade by dappling incoming light, the addition of a fabric cover can lend full shade as well as protection from rain. A classic window awning lowers air conditioning costs by shielding against the sun’s heat and glare. It also prevents substantial amounts of pollen and precipitation from entering a building.