Product Development with Rex: Ingenuity Windows

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Written by Snow Blackwood

Ingenuity Windows

I spent some time with Rex Vaccaro, Versatile Wood Product’s Product Design Manager, last Thursday. We talked about the new line of Ingenuity Windows™ they are developing and I learned a little bit more about Rex.

Ingenuity Windows
Learning about Versatile Wood Products’ design process with Product Design Manager, Rex Vaccaro.
The exciting news? Versatile Wood Products is developing a new semi-custom line of windows!

What does that mean for clients? You now get the quality of a custom-built product Versatile customers have come to know, but with the ease, efficiency and affordability of a modular product.

“Some of the ‘big-box’ window companies we were working with were supplying a less than average product. It was time for us to develop a line of our own,” says Versatile Wood Products owner, Richard De Wolf.

And after about 6 months of development, Ingenuity Windows™ was born.

“Curtis, Alan [Rex’s product design team] and I had talked over the years of developing a book of standards similar to what we have for our cabinetry line. The fact that this is happening now, is very exciting for us. It’s going to change everything. With the ease and efficiency of a semi-custom product line, we can streamline the process for these jobs, while continuing to put energy and focus into the creative development of our fully custom products,” says Rex.

I’m not a window designer, architect, or remodeler, so Rex had his job cut out on detailing the process and the product. We started in the office, where he has laid out wood window prototype pieces.

Ingenuity Windows
Rex demonstrates how the sash design will accommodate insulated glass units.
Rex describes some of the challenges specific to custom product design:

“There are several things we consider when we design any product. Basically, we want minimum waste and maximum efficiency. We ask what is the style we are developing for? What wood species are we working with? What grain pattern is desired? How stable is the wood? Is it salvaged wood? Salvaged wood throws a whole new twist into things.”

The Ingenuity™ line aims to achieve the most sought after details available in their custom window designs and to standardize the knowledge they’ve gained over the years in developing their custom windows.

Careful consideration of things like the jamb depths, joinery methods and window sills were important.

“When a client comes in with an old sash that’s not functioning properly, we ask; Where did it fail? Why? We designed our Ingenuity windows with a jamb thicknesses required for oversized windows, mortise and tenon joinery and a sill that prevents any accumulation or wicking of water up into the jamb, a common point of failure,” explains Rex.

Because Versatile specializes in historic design, the Ingenuity line was developed with traditional windows in mind.

“After testing various designs, we arrived at a 1 ½” thick sash with 5/8” thick insulated glass units. We revised the muntin bar details in order to retain the desired energy performance from the glass, while producing a sash that would fit into any of the jamb scenarios that were required. The designs will fit into an old house and look historically accurate, and will meet historic review standards.”

We head out to the shop to see the progress of the window development. Danil and Sarah  are in the process of developing a window as we speak. I get to see the drawings and the hardware selections.

Ingenuity Windows
Rex is as comfortable in the shop as in the office, “I’m out here a lot consulting on designs. I like to get my hands dirty every so often as well,” says Rex, smiling.

“We selected the most sought-after finishes for the pulleys, sash locks and adjusters. Some of these pulley finishes were plated just for us,” Rex shows me the options laid out on boards.

Versatile quality means using the finest hardware. This means solid brass, made by longstanding hardware manufacturers such as IDH and Harwick.

Ingenuity Windows
The Ingenuity line finishes will include, Oil Rubbed Bronze, Antique Brass, Satin Brass, Polished Brass, Chrome, Polished Nickel and Satin Nickel.

On the drawings I’m able to see more clearly the details Rex was explaining which will allow for compatibility with older homes.

Ingenuity Windows
Rex shows the difference between the Ovolo profile and the new Ogee that was created to conform to the new sash thickness.
An important part of the semi-custom line development are the forms that are set-up for contractors.

“Developing and streamlining the ordering process is a critical aspect of efficiency, both for the client during the ordering process, and for the shop during the build. We are in the process of creating eight different cut-sheets [architectural drawing/diagrams] for the different window types. The cut-sheets show how the window relates to the wall, so a contractor can make a quick decision. We want these to be very easy to use and readable,” Rex explains.

There are currently two categories of windows available in the Ingenuity™ line: Casement and Double Hung. Within those categories there are myriad possibilities—Casements can be configured to be awnings or hoppers as well. Both styles are available fixed or inoperable. Additionally, they are available as single units or as mulled assemblies, full light or with muntin bars. They can even do direct glaze.

As we finish up the tour, I learn a little more about Rex. It turns out Rex started his career in architecture, designing luxury homes. Rex is humble and  introspective as he tells me about his path in architecture and product design.

Ingenuity Windows
Rex stands against a background of more than 230 different jigs, each designed for a different hardware prep.

“I loved working for the architect; he was incredibly creative and taught me a lot about luxury home design and the intricacy of structures,” Rex says.

Rex started with Versatile in 2011 working mostly in cabinetry design. Now he also designs windows and doors, and manages his team in the estimating, design, and drafting processes.

“I started with the whole home and now I design the details, the architectural elements. Having an understanding of the underlying architectural structures helps lend context to designing the architectural details. The more you see these things, the more they start to make sense,” says Rex.

Come meet Rex and  celebrate the release of the new line; Ingenuity™ windows on Thursday, April 14th 4-7pm at the Versatile Open House Party!

Photo Gallery (photos by Mitch Hose):

Ingenuity Windows
Rex uses CAD, KCD, Enroute, and Google Sketchup to mock up designs and usually has about 20-25 projects in progress at a time.
Ingenuity Windows
Sash lifts, double hung sash locks and casement latches.
Ingenuity Windows
“We used this prototype to test different weights and how they affect a block and tackle balance system for the Ingenuity line,” says Rex. These balances are used for double hung windows where a traditional pulley-and-weight system isn’t feasible, such as an insert, or when a weight pocket isn’t possible.
Ingenuity Windows
Sills for the Ingenuity line wait to be cut for framing.
Ingenuity Windows
Brass pulleys in oil rubbed bronze finish are cleanly mortised into the jamb.



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