How do I reduce glare in our sunlit design room?
July 27, 2007 7:55 AM   Subscribe

i work for a medium-sized web design company. How do I reduce glare inside of our design room while keeping our natural light?

Hello. We have about 12 employees inside of our design room that's directly underneath a sunlight.

Here are pictures of our office:

The setting and natural sunlight is great but the glare is starting to strain our designer's eyes.

What is the best solution to reduce screen glare and designer eye strain? Is there something I can install elevated, in the center of the room, that will do the trick (an artificial cloud or something)? Should I instead just invest in anti-glare screen filters? Is there another solution?

It's pretty clear my boss is looking for outside the box solutions so I welcome your wildest suggestions.
posted by jmprice to Technology (14 answers total)
Gauze artfully strung on wires overhead? Claim it is art?
posted by mrbugsentry at 8:00 AM on July 27, 2007

What about a hood for the computer monitors? You can buy these off the rack, of course, but they're easy enough to make out of black cardstock.
posted by adamrice at 8:03 AM on July 27, 2007

Nice office!

Seconding hang a gauze canopy. I think getting gauze sheets cut to size and hung from wires strung across those girders would be a good, and aesthetically pleasing, option.

Or depending on how you do it, you could hang more down the walls and pretend you're under a mosquito net, in a four-poster medieval bed, or a summer gazebo, or even better, a 70s porn set / lingerie catalogue shoot.

Or, you could all wear large, comedy sombreros and use that as an excuse to get blasted on tequilas every friday afternoon.

Sorry, you asked me late on a friday afternoon, and not in a spiffy office like yours!
posted by dowcrag at 8:28 AM on July 27, 2007

There are companies that do rollup shades for sunlights, and can use a mesh fabric for filtration, or diffusion materials like photographer's lightshields. This is a serious step though, not sure how far you're willing to go.

Here's one company that does this, you can have motorized control and all.

Alternately, give each workstation a big umbrella-style photographer's lightshield
posted by pupdog at 8:59 AM on July 27, 2007

make that here's one company. Damn fingers
posted by pupdog at 8:59 AM on July 27, 2007

nice office! perhaps some large palm trees would do the trick?
posted by krautland at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2007

Gauze or shades in there would kind of ruin the architectural aesthetics, it seems to me.

What you want to accomplish is more diffuse light, less direct glare from the sky. Inside gauze, baffles (like on a fluorescent tube fixture) or shades in there would accomplish the needed diffusion but would kind of ruin the architectural aesthetics.

So (you said outside the box), what about an outside the skylight solution: Get painters to spray a very thin coat of white paint on the outside of the glass. This will cut the light down some (maybe 25%), and will add more scatter (diffusion) to the remaining light, reducing glare.

To help sell this idea to the beancounters: reducing the light coming in through the glass will cut down on heat gain also, so it will save on air-conditioning expense.

It's possible the skylight already has some kind of anti-glare glass rather than clear glass, but obviously it's not enough and the paint is needed to add diffusion. You may have seen this concept used in an agricultural greenhouse.

You could even test this cheaply: get big sheets of white plastic sheeting (like they sell for use as painting dropcloths). Take 'em on the roof, tape them to the skylight, and see how it feels in there.
posted by beagle at 9:25 AM on July 27, 2007

Hoods. You can easily make your own.
I did some contracting work for a product design department and all of the designers had rolled their own hoods from heavy black board.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:27 AM on July 27, 2007

As for the fake cloud idea, Rose Brand makes gauzy fabric stretched over shapes.

Linking & suspending the plunked squares could be nice. They do fancy / custom work maybe you could design your own with them.

I was also thinking umbrellas (just the first thing I found searching for bamboo umbrella) in a natural material (colored ones might look nice, but then you'd have rainbow tinted glare on the monitors, leading to: why is my site pink!?) And you can put umbrellas away when you don't need them.

Hoods will really work the best though.
posted by JulianDay at 9:43 AM on July 27, 2007

My first thought was some sort of opaque/frosted plastic, maybe hanging down from the ceiling to block direct light but keep the natural light levels high. The panels could be hung on wires, maybe at different levels (but all parallel to the floor).

The gauze suggestions might look more decorative but the plastic could look nicely modern, if that's your angle. In any case it will likely be somewhat costly since you have a lot more than just a few windows to obscure. Panels could also be hung quite low (plastic, wood frame&cloth, etc) directly over each desk. That would be very effective but really limits the ability to move furniture around.

Also, it seems a bit ironic that someone who works for a web design company can't actually create a link to the pictures.
posted by 6550 at 11:08 AM on July 27, 2007

6550, thanks for the suggestion.

Though I think you have a grammar problem: you confuse "can't" and "didn't" in your last sentence.

Never confuse ignorance for laziness!
posted by jmprice at 11:33 AM on July 27, 2007

To augment my comments:
Is it better on a cloudy day?
If so, the outside painting idea should basically turn sunny days into cloudy ones.
Hoods can kill collaboration by making it hard for several people to look at one screen. And they will do nothing about the bright-light overhead problem, which I think is what's straining the eyes more than screen reflections are.
posted by beagle at 1:10 PM on July 27, 2007

Thinking some more it looks like the glass of the building is a pyramid or long triangle shape. What I think would be cool would be to take strips of fabric and make it look a bit like the inside of a tent. I'm picturing long thin strips or triangles out of a light nylon or other synthetic material, lots of different colors. Probably should discuss the idea at a fabric store because you want something light enough in color or thickness to let a lot of ambient light through, while blocking the glare. Also, the fabric should be UV resistant so it doesn't fade too much with time. Then all you have to do is figure out a way to attach all the ends along the apex and the other ends around the base the windows or atrium. Probably should have a bit of drape to the pieces to have a nice aesthetically pleasing curve, though not so much that they end up sagging and touching the beams. Different strips could also have different drapes so that some end up partially obscuring others.

Should look pretty cool (who wouldn't want to work inside a circus tent!) if you go this way and the fabric shouldn't cost all that much either. The planing and installation is the only real difficulty, but that shouldn't be too tedious.

In any event, take some pictures of whatever you end up doing.

Despite my grammar choice I did suspect laziness as the alternatives (ignorance or contempt) weren't very appealing.
posted by 6550 at 3:05 PM on July 27, 2007

I do realize my idea is similar to dowcrag's but the idea of a multicolored tent was just to appealing to not describe!
posted by 6550 at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2007

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