Out of Sight
When It Comes to Hardware,
Great Value is Being Placed on What You Don’t See
by Axel Husen
In the early 1900s, Frank Lloyd Wright argued
that “form and function are one.” Since then, we’ve seen many architectural
trends and aesthetic credos come and go. And yet, as we take a closer
look at some of the more recent developments in the fenestration industry,
we find the principle still applies. For door and window manufacturers
and their suppliers, recognizing the unique relationship between the form
of an object and its intended purpose is critical to success. But where
does that leave the hardware supplier when the purpose of the window is
to create an unobstructed view to the outside? What do hardware designers
do when the ideal aesthetic solution for the hardware is, ironically,
the absence of it?
Some rather inventive solutions have emerged.
Due to the ever-growing focus on homeowner convenience, ease of use, and
an organic, contemporary style, the “less is more” approach to visible
hardware has taken hold. As manufacturers go to great lengths to develop
innovative door and window designs, the need for hardware solutions that
feel natural to their products becomes more apparent. While this typically
is achieved through proprietary solutions, hardware suppliers are becoming
more adept at producing technologically advanced, aesthetically sophisticated
Modern hardware solutions strive to integrate movement, security and aesthetics
into one perfect design—a design that, when done right, will seem as if
it were developed exclusively for the door or window it secures. In fact,
integration is key. Hardware suppliers have found innovative ways to design
products that, even when they go unseen, provide so many benefits to the
homeowner that manufacturers can leverage them to differentiate their
products effectively and increase their profit opportunities.
Keep a Low Profile
Today’s interior design choices are often dictated by clean lines, subtle
contrasts and a look of architectural seamlessness. When it comes to the
question of hardware, it often stands to reason—the lower the visibility,
the higher the appeal.
Flush-mount and recessed hardware solutions therefore have gained a good
deal of momentum in recent years. From automatic sash locks for sliding
and hung windows to hinges for folding doors, flush-mount hardware that
sits in-line with the profile is extremely popular with homeowners; not
only for its sophisticated appearance, but for its practicality.
Hide Your Assets
More and more often, door and window manufacturers and homeowners alike,
are opting for concealed hardware solutions. When we talk about aesthetics
in hardware, we’re talking about more than just a wide selection of colors
and finishes. Aesthetics can range from the shape and line of each piece,
to the ergonomics and feel of certain components, to the ability of the
hardware to fit flush with the profile, to concealing the hardware from
In the case of tilt-and-turn windows, concealed hinges are engineered
to allow for narrower increasing the glass area and making an altogether
better-looking window that lets more light through and creates a more
spacious atmosphere—all without compromising security, load capacity,
performance or convenient operation.
Moreover, when it comes to folding door systems, many hardware suppliers
offer concealed locking options and concealed shoot bolt systems in an
effort to create a clean, upscale appearance. This is often with a single
handle, replacing surface-mounted flush bolts to minimize the amount of
visible hardware. In addition, folding door manufacturers have invented
ways to design their door systems to conceal the tracks within the application.
Find an Attractive Solution
Though new to the market, the use of magnetic technology in hardware is
being embraced by door and window manufacturers as an effective solution
for optimum security and homeowner peace of mind.
In sliding and hung windows, a fully concealed, contact-less magnetic
trigger will eliminate upper sash drag and minimize opening forces, making
a magnetic sash lock the perfect solution for double-hung windows.
Magnets not only provide a reliable and durable locking solution, but
also a concealed, upscale appearance (due to the lack of protruding elements),
as well as subtle acoustics. Some magnetic locks on the market also offer
a true indication security feature allowing homeowners to identify by
sight if the lock has been triggered and the window is locked.
Likewise, magnetic locks in swing doors have proven ideal for sophisticated
architectural designs, as the latch is nearly invisible in line with the
lock case when the door is open.
Screen Out the Undesirables
Now you see it, now you don’t—retractable insect screens are a hot industry
trend. Innovative screen solutions are a testament to how much attention
product engineers really pay to what window and door manufacturers are
trying to accomplish. Retractable screens are a truly integrated solution
in that, if the manufacturer is selling large glass patio doors that promise
unobstructed views to the outside, the screen can be concealed and the
As opposed to permanently installed flat screens, these new retractable
screens—some pleated, some rolled—are used only when the door or window
is open, giving a clear view to the outside and demanding less frequent
cleaning. Versatile enough to accommodate folding doors, sliding doors
and French doors, as well as various window solutions, retractable insect
screens have proven to be the visionary solution that, when not in use,
are tucked neatly out of view.
When we look at how far the industry has progressed in the past few years,
we see a shift in the perception of hardware: from serving as merely a
component or accessory to playing a pivotal role in a highly integrated
solution. After all, the doors and windows of today must accomplish so
many things at once—they must be secure, easy to operate, weather-resistant
and energy-efficient, and they must bring a new level of sophistication
to the home. As hardware suppliers make it their business to help door
and window manufacturers not only achieve but surpass these goals, new
and innovative solutions have emerged. In fact, instead of standing out,
many hardware suppliers have found they can better serve their customers
by focusing their efforts on developing the industry’s hidden treasures.
Axel Husen is president and chief
executive officer of Interlock USA Inc., an ASSA ABLOY company. He has
more than 20 years experience in the door and window industry.
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.