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We canvassed six different suppliers to the door and window hardware category and asked them a series of questions designed to find out what’s new and what consumers want.Door and window hardware have changed considerably in recent years, even from region to region. For example, most of those we asked suggested that trends varied from inner city regions to suburbia and from metropolitan to rural – even from state to state.

Our respondents in a survey about the latest in door and window included the following – Nick Penny (NP), Marketing & Communications Manager at ASSA ABLOY; Jason Hemmy (JH), General Manager at Cowdroy; Nicole Richardson (NR), Marketing Manager at Kaba Australia; Lynda Rogan (LR), Retail Administrator at Lemaar; Mario Denicola (MD), National Sales Manager at Trio; and Steve Markham (SM), National Marketing Manager at Vinco. Their responses are detailed below:

Q: Have you noticed any new consumer trends in door and window hardware?

NRThere has recently been a shift to lever handles on door furniture over the old style knob. There has also been a move away from brass (gold) finishes. Installing locksets that bring together entrance functionality and the security device is another change. Previously, a rim lock was installed with either a passage set or pull handle. Today’s designs allow the functionality of both in the one product, such as the Lockwood Nexion series.

JH:Certainly. People who are renovating are looking more to thermally efficient windows and doors. There’s also demand for products that have a good warranty – especially products that are more corrosion, or rust, resistant.

NRThe Australian lock market is changing in line with global trends, with consumers today gravitating towards electronic locking systems – in particular, digital door locks.

The move from traditional cylinder systems to electronic systems has occurred primarily because of two reasons. Firstly, consumers enjoy the convenience of digital door locks as they eliminate the need to carry keys, as well as the need to change the lock in the event of losing your keys. Secondly, a general acceptance of electronic technologies now exists thanks to the emergence of personal electronic products, such as smart phones.

LR: We have found that there is a strong market for products available in a full suite – passage, privacy, entrance and dummy. Lemaar not only provides a number of locksets in a full suite, but we also provide the option for matching accessories, like deadbolts, door stops and cabinetware.

MD:I believe the attitude and approach to energy efficiency has become a big part in driving new trends, as well as addressing acoustic, bushfire and cyclonic concerns. We have seen an increase in demand for stainless steel products, as well as a need for fire rating on them. Apart from standard off-the-shelf products, Trio has always been able to produce OEM products that suit custom-made doors, which can be higher, wider and even operate in different ways. There has been a marked increase in demand for this service, to the point where we now have a team of draftsmen and engineers dedicated to this type of work. SM: Lately, there has been more interest in digital-type locks.

Q: Do tastes and trends vary between inner and outer city regions, metropolitan and rural, or between states in Australia?

NP:Marginally, but more so from a city dwelling to suburban setting. Inner city apartments often have a more commercial look and feel as they need to support many common areas. They are often architecturally designed with considerations such as safe egress, satiability etc. Often, the occupant has little or even no say in the hardware selection process. Regional or suburban dwellings follow design aspects and the era of the home. However, in the home renovation space, the trend is clearly moving to clean lines and lever furniture. There is also growing interest in keyless entry locks, even though the adoption rate of these products has been slower than overseas markets. However, we see the need to continue to develop product that will cater for this growing demand.

JH:Absolutely. Every state bar Victoria and Tasmania want windows and doors that give a full opening, such as sliders, i.e. something that gives the best ventilation. New South Wales is also still keen on double-hung (vertical sliding) windows because of its aesthetics. Victorians and Tasmanians, on the other hand, want windows that are the most thermally efficient (when closed), such as awning or casement windows and hinged doors. For the inner city, there are two markets. The rental investment properties are normally looking for aesthetically pleasing products that are budget priced, whereas home owners are prepared to spend far more on achieving actual quality – particularly for finishes, such as stainless steel, and for products that operate smoothly.

NR:The short answer is no. Although dwelling types and styles definitely vary between different areas, we have found that locking systems transcend these trends. We believe this is due not only to Australian consumers wanting the latest types of locking systems, but also to the aesthetics of our product range which has overall appeal regardless of the dwelling type or façade style.

LR:They certainly do. Our market research revealed different trends in different states. For example, sales indicate that round-style levers are more popular in states like the Northern Territory, South Australia and in a lot of the rural areas. However, other states have gravitated more towards the square-style of locksets. We also find different trends when it comes to preferred finishes. There’s still a market for polished brass stock in the Northern Territory and South Australia, but Victoria and Queensland seem to prefer a good mix of both satin chrome and chrome plate finishes. New South Whales and Western Australia favour the satin chrome stock.

MD:There have always been different trends between states. Much of this remains unchanged and can be attributed, in part, to different climates. However, the variations are based more on the design of the development rather than which state it is being built it in. Inner city areas tend to have very specific guidelines and regulations compared to suburban areas. And quite different design styles, particularly with multilevel and high density developments. Recent and proposed changes to the building codes for bushfire and cyclone zones include all external construction and doors and windows. I believe there will be quite different requirements, depending on location.

SM:Traditional, or brass, is very popular in certain inner city suburbs like Balmain or Surry Hills, but in other suburbs like Cronulla modern styles are the go. In country areas, brass and traditional/brass are more prominent. In Melbourne, chrome-plated is popular for both locks and hinges. In South Australia traditional/brass hardware is more prominent.

Q: Do trends tend to originate in Europe, the US or domestically?

NP: Not really. There are many designs in door furniture claiming European design. But in reality, we have our own unique design aspects, sharing this with NZ. Some of the cheaper lines, such as key-in knob set and standard deadbolts, don’t change much between the US and here, but that’s where it stops. Many of our products are designed here in Australia for Australian conditions – and to suit our standard door preps – while also considering the retro fit door preps for the growing renovation markets.

JH:The Australian window and door market is unique in that it has very much developed its own products. The Australia standards are actually very strict and much higher performance is required than in Europe and America. In particular, our wind and water penetration requirements are world leading.

NR:There is no one hotspot for trends. Consumers today are technologically savvy. As such, they have access to different sources of information from a range of countries, allowing them to pick and choose the best from each region.

LR:We believe that trends in the door hardware industry originate from Europe, and we find that the direction that tapware takes has a lot of impact on what becomes popular in door hardware.

MD:Although we keep an eye on the trends in Europe and the US, I believe the main trends originate domestically. We have a unique market due to both our location and climate which, over the years, has developed independently from the rest of the world. Our standard of quality is very high compared to most countries, and many of the new trends are not relevant to our market. Availability of the types of building materials in our region can also influences designs.

SM:It depends, but Italy has a big influence on styles of lever locks.

Q: What has your company released lately? Or is there anything due for release soon that you can talk about?

NP: Last year, we launched a revolutionary new door furniture design called Velocity. This product was designed here in Australia after many hours spent watching builders install door furniture and seeing first hand the issues they faced fumbling with loose screws and spindles. The result? We developed the Velocity range to encapsulate the fixing screws and spindles, in addition to a quick-align twist and tighten. Installing Velocity in a house will cut installation time in half.

This year, we increased the range of lever styles available from four to six in the Velocity range, matching the lever styles available for our entrance products in the Nexion range. This means that all door levers can be uniform throughout the entire home. Also launched in 2011 is a new Lockwood cavity door range, which is available in passage and entrance sets. This new cavity slider bridges the gap we had in our residential offering. We can now also provide a locking solution for cavity sliders and key alike to all other doors and windows within the home.

JH:Yes – a chain winder for use on awning and casement windows that have a restricted opening. The reason for this is to limit the window opening to no more that 150mm in order to reduce the chances of children falling out of buildings.

NRWith digital door locks becoming the prevalent choice within the Australian consumer market, Kaba has just released the E-Flash EF680. The EF680 is not only a stylish addition to any residential entry point but is also incredibly easy to use, with a built-in voice function to guide you through each step of the set up. It also offers the flexibility of operating the lock via a proximity card or pin code (an optional remote control is also available). The EF680 is made from durable construction materials, including a stainless steel mortice lock case, and it has a 120-minute fire rating. A biometric version is scheduled for release in the coming months.

LRLemaar recently embarked on becoming as environmentally friendly as possible. We have made sure that all our locksets do not contain any rubber. In addition to this, we have been on an ongoing journey to change over all our packaging to all recyclable materials with no plastic. By eliminating the need for plastic, we also allow our customers the opportunity to touch and feel our products.

MD:During the past few years, we have made a conscious effort to move away from being just known as the ‘hinge people’. We offer a comprehensive range of all door furniture, for both residential and commercial applications. We continue to manufacture and produce OEM products, particularly with the volumes of commercial redevelopments where fixings from the past need to match current requirements.

In the last year, we have in some ways re invented the Trio brand. Apart from expanding the product range, we have completely rebranded our products, with a definite focus on the retail market. Our new packaging is unique and I believe it will raise the standard of what is currently offered in the retail environment. We also have a new website, which is due to be launched in the next few weeks as a further step towards embracing e-commerce and offering our clients new ways of ordering and sourcing products.

SM:We’ve got a digital lock due out soon, but I can’t give you too much information on them at the moment.