The UK fenestration market may differ from that in the rest of Europe in numerous ways, but anyone who visited Nuremburg for this year’s Fensterbau Frontale exhibition would certainly have been inspired by the innovation, professionalism, quality and potential market opportunities on show.
Dominating the exhibition floor in terms of size were - understandably – the global brands that originate in Germany. Schueco, @Veka, @Rehau, @Profine Group and @Roto, to name but a few. But the diversity of door and window systems, products, machinery and supporting services from businesses based in all corners of the world was fascinating to see.
The hardware halls provided a reminder that handles, locking systems, hinges and all ancillary products can be as advanced, stylish and robust as you want them to be. The ranges of door handles from the likes of FSB, EDI and KD Comfort was particularly impressive, and it would be fantastic to see many more of their aesthetically superb products used in UK buildings.
The stalwarts of the UK residential hardware market were also out in force, with Winkhaus, Siegenia, HOPPE, G-U and Fuhr all having a considerable presence. SFS was there too, with their range of door hinges designed and manufactured in Italy presenting genuinely premium quality options to doorset manufacturers and PVC-U or aluminium fabricators here in the UK.
One of the most striking things to a UK visitor was surely the number of manufacturers of shutter boxes, solar shading systems and insect screens. Such products are clearly not in high demand in the UK, given our climate and architectural heritage, but there could be something in this type of product that may present market opportunities in future.
The ‘complete systems’ available from companies including @Beck & Heun, Wareman, Hella and Roma – which had some of the most fantastic and biggest stands – might be something that UK architecture and homeowners could take to, or at least a variation of. That’s because there is a compelling sell when you consider the solar shading, energy efficiency, ventilation and security benefits that they combine into a single unit that sits above the window head in the reveal. Okay, we don’t see external blinds and shutters in Britain like we do in central Europe, but we didn’t see integral blinds or folding-sliding doors here until the early 90s. Maybe something for the future in a more UK-friendly style?
Overall though, the show was a really interesting experience. It was good to see UK representation too in the British Pavilion, along with a few British businesses dotted around. I’ll make every effort to get along to the next one in 2020!