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Clear the air with this decorative solution

Clear the air with this decorative solution
July 2020

Stellar Air turns your air vent into a piece of art

Stellar Air’s laser-cut air vents can be painted or stained to match decor.

After pouring your heart and soul (and money) into making your living room gorgeous, that eyesore of an air vent sticks out like a sore thumb, doesn’t it? James Islanders Samy and Esthela Cuzmar created a solution that won’t make your HVAC tech throw a fit—Stellar Air decorative vents.

These intricate laser-cut wooden covers snap in place of your existing grate and allow your filter to continue to provide efficient airflow and improved ventilation without ruining the aesthetics of your room. Decorative covers aren’t a new concept, but Stellar Air’s are tested for airflow quality and velocity. As an engineer, Samy knew that data would be key, even if the décor was what would sell the idea. So they took the device to a lab in Georgia. “When we present the idea to architects and builders, and they say, ‘We’ve seen this before, but we need airflow tests,’ we have them.”

Samy grew up in Greenville, graduated from Clemson University, and was working as a mechanical engineer for Siemens when he met his future wife, Esthela. The couple moved to Charleston in 2007 for Samy’s new job with Vencor Inc., an electro-mechanical systems manufacturer. They ended up purchasing the company and now have three children.

Fresh Air - A look at Stellar Air’s business

  • Launch: August 2017
  • Design: 11 that have been tested to ensure they do not disrupt air flow
  • Production: They have manufactured an estimated 1,000 decorative filter covers.
  • The market: Primarily the Southeast, but they have shipped filter covers to all 50 states and Canada

Laser etching is a side business of Vencor, and a chance encounter at a home and design show prompted Samy and Esthela to use the machines to produce decorative air vent covers. The first was finished in November 2017 at their James Island facility, and Stellar Air was born. Esthela creates most of the designs, gathering inspiration from places as diverse as Peru’s salt mines to James Bond movies. “I am always looking for ideas, from fabric patterns to nature to artwork [including some intricate Indian art in a scene in Octopussy]. But the patterns have to allow for the right amount of air,” says Esthela.

The company offers three frame styles and 11 designs that fit any standard vent; they’re made of wood and can be painted or stained, with plastic and metal options for bathrooms or outdoor spaces. They also create custom pieces. “We made a heater vent for above a wine cupboard for a home in Isle of Palms and designed the family’s name into it,” says Samy. He’s working on a cover to hide an electrical panel for a restaurant in Mount Pleasant’s Old Village and did custom work for Halloween when the movie filmed here last summer. The Cuzmars think they’re onto a winner with the air vent covers. “It was a long process to not just make it pretty,” says Esthela, “but to actually make a functional and reliable product that’s easy to use.” The covers, she says, can transform a room in minutes.