Hettich UK’s managing director Clive Sparrow makes no bones about it–it’s been a very tough 12 months since ASFI, and it’s a sentiment echoed pretty much unanimously throughout the industry.
But with a steadily improving stock market–coupled with a reduction in international tensions–fresh optimism is emerging. Like hibernating animals that batten down the hatches during a stormy winter, many of us are popping our noses out of our borrows, peering over the parapet.
The question is this: what’s new? What’s been going on? Like hibernating animals we will need to move fast, stake our claims for survival. Returning to the ‘virtual’ security of the burrow is not an option for survival. Those who are not ‘fleet of foot’ won’t make it. They seldom do.
Yet large companies like Hettich have to innovate through good times and bad. Belts are tightened–sure–but the innovative drive remains operational throughout.
So, what’s emerged over the past 12 months since ASFI?
‘If I had to choose just three I’d go for two products and one service,’ said Sparrow, his offering being the new Unimat hinge, the Twister dowel and the complete assembled box service.
Furniture Products of Hett
Unimat, Hellich’s new concealed 26mm cup mini-hinge bucks all hinge trends to date. It is, without doubt, the result of a bold marketing decision for which Hettich can be justifiably congratulated. According to Clive Sparrow: ‘It is the most significant breakthrough in hinge design since the launch of the original concealed hinge principle some 40 years ago.’ He’s probably right too.
So, what’s the background to the claim? Can it be justified? It’s only (another) hinge, isn’t it? Well, to date, product engineering for economy has almost invariably meant an aesthetic compromise, and this is where Unimat breaks the mould, seriously. ‘Visually, it is the most distinct hinge on the market,’ claims Sparrow, ‘and that’s before you get around to its remarkable technical attributes. It’s available at a staggeringly competitive price, too,’ he added.
It’s hard to imagine anyone not being attracted to its appearance. Reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House in design principle, its market credibility is established at the outset. After all, if it worked for Sydney–and fewer cities have such an instantly recognisable and universally approved landmark–it will work for Hettich. Significantly, Unimat junks the angularity of most other hinges on the market.
But it’s on closer inspection that Unimat’s virtues become even more apparent. It’s a single-piece component, and is supplier as such. The cup arm and mounting plate are one totally integrated unit. According to Sparrow, this makes it a candidate for leadership in the self-assembly market. Here, its visual appeal will provide persuasion on the showroom floor.
Furthermore, the fact that the cup is supplied with pre-mounted chipboard screws and that all three-axis adjustment is built into the design is expected to appeal to both manufacturers and showroom staff alike. Collectively, these features–aestheticl and technical, along with simplicity in use–put it in a league of its won.
The hinge is supplied in three formats, each with a slightly different curvature–one for full door overlay, while the other two are for half overlay and inset doors respectively. Its shallow cup depth of 100mm means that it can be used with extremely thin wood based panels and doors can be as thin as 15mm.
According to Clive Sparrow the new Twister assembly dowel from Hettich is not only a unique development but one that is competitively priced to fit current commodity price structures. It provides a new twist to an old story.
He’s not alone in praising it either–the new cam and dowel was awarded the highly regarded Industrie Forum Design Hannover iF Design Award 2002. So what’s so special about it?
For a start, the sleeves rotate freely around the shanks which means that they can also be used to hold the dowel while power tools drive them home to a reliable fit. Furthermore, the three different dowel lengths are colour coded for easy and–importantly–unambiguous identification. Green denotes 20mm, blue, 24.5mm; and black indicates 30ram.
As to performance in use, Twister fills drilled holes completely, making it an immensely strong connector with notably high pull-out strength. It imparts a high level of stability when used with Cam fittings from Hettich’s Rastex range of cams–these having both interior and exterior indentations that afford a particularly high degree of strength.
The product is supplied through Hellich UK’s kitchen and bathroom division including kitchen cabinets, chairs and benches, stools, dining sets, bars and carts, round table, , headed up by Philip O’Malley.
Ready Assembled and Kitchen Furniture
With so much emphasis in recent years on KD furniture, it’s refreshing to come across a supplier who offers a top-flight domestic furniture drawer box ready assembled.
Hettich’s Innotech drawer system needs little introduction–it’s been around for several years–albeit updated regularly, recently to include soft close. In its latest guise it comprises high quality twin-walls but, significantly, it’s now available preassembled and supplied packed in a box. According to Hettich UK’s divisional director Tom Leedham this has distinct advantages for many kitchen manufacturers, suppliers and fitters.
‘First and foremost there is no assembly. This cuts manufacturing time and cost, but most of all is hassle free,’ he said. All the manufacturer/installer is required to do is either unpack the drawer and slot into place in the factory, or deliver it in its original packaging–along with other kitchen components such as wood drawer, gas cookers, dining chair and table — for fitting on site.
There are further advantages too, says Hettich–ordering and stockholding is made less complex, thereby reducing the scope for error. ‘Never before has the use of quality German-made drawer systems been so easy,’ said Leedham.