1. Black is back.

Black Is Black

Black taps, accessories and internal door and cabinet hardware is a big hit in 2018. Led by European trends and the effect of the internet, consumers are revelling in an abundance of options as manufacturers embrace this phenomena by providing the colour in more and more different offerings. Why is black so popular?

For the ancient Egyptians, black was the colour of the rich. The black alluvial soil watered by the Nile river provided fertility and growth – the source of life itself.

Black is the colour most commonly associated with elegance in Europe and the United States, followed by silver, gold, and white. Black first became a fashionable colour for men in Europe in the 17th century, in the courts of Italy and Spain. In the 19th century, it was the fashion for men both in business and for evening wear, in the form of a black coat whose tails came down the knees.

For women’s fashion, the defining moment was the invention of the simple black dress by Coco Chanel in 1926. Thereafter, a long black gown was used for formal occasions, while the simple black dress could be used for everything else. The designer Karl Lagerfeld, explaining why black was so popular, said: “Black is the colour that goes with everything. If you’re wearing black, you’re on sure ground.” The fashion designer Christian Dior said, “elegance is a combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity,” and black exemplified elegance.

The expression “X is the new black” is a reference to the latest trend or fad that is considered a wardrobe basic for the duration of the trend, on the basis that black is always fashionable. The phrase has taken on a life of its own and has become a cliché.

Check out the Pros & Cons of Black Door Hardware here!

2. Two Tone – the new look

The two-tone metal finish has now become the ‘must have’ accoutrement when designing and renovating. The reason; It matches more things. Most bathrooms have chrome fittings and the two-tone look is the nexus between the harmonising of the interior fit out. Design is becoming smarter and chicer. The need to ensure a thematic placement throughout the interior is imperative. Handles and accessories, whilst some of the smallest of architectural elements, can exert the most powerful of impacts. Architecture is usually seen as an art expressed through space and light, as if it were somehow apart from our bodies.

The most popular finishes in two tone hardware is a mix of brushed nickel as the dominate finish with hints of chrome where it can be seen but not necessarily touched. Traditionally, the chrome was the dominant finish. The advantage of the latest trend is that the brushed nickel, the part most touched, does not show the finger marks like chrome does.

Luxe Two Toned

It is our sense of touch which introduces us to the building and the interior. It is the weight, solidity, finish and texture of the handles which guides us across the threshold, which gives us our first impression of the architecture. Like the building itself, the handle is not a static object but a small piece of sculpture which bears the traces and memories of use and the lives of those who have briefly touched it.

The door and cabinet handles are also more than a functioning object that must arrange optics and haptics in a special way: it represents the haptic – physical contact with a house’s architecture. And although you may only have it in your hands for seconds, sometimes not using it for days, the haptic is as crucial as the optic.

 The introduction of the ‘two tone’ concept has allowed the perfect fusing of the haptic and the optic and becomes the intersection that joins up the rooms of a home.

3. The Fusion of Design

2018 has seen a much greater emphasis on fusing design styles throughout a building or residence. The colours, the style and the placement all effect the overall appearance. Art deco door handles, and retro cabinet hardware might have been acceptable in the past. But designers are now much more pedantic about fit out compatibility and placement.

Product suites are a new phenomenon with some company’s offering a comprehensive range of matching different products in terms of style and finish. Below are some examples of how this can be done. The door handle below is based in a contemporary style; however, it draws on elements of classical and traditional shapes to make them accessible to most interior solutions. The associated range of matching cabinet handles are similar in style thus complementing the door hardware and fusing the interior theme throughout.

Polo Product Suite
The Polo product suite

4. Matching finishes

2018 has seen a big drive to ensure that hardware used matches in terms of style and particularly finish.

When choosing new hardware, options are key. Variation in finish from brand to brand is inevitable. Company A’s brushed nickel may look completely different to company B’s brushed nickel. Specifiers and consumers are becoming much more aware of this when selecting products.

One other problem relates to matching the door hardware with the cabinet hardware. Mostly there is no coordination of door and cabinet hardware selection. The builder normally supplies the door hardware and the cabinet maker supplies the cabinet hardware. Where this often plays out is when the two are finally put together and the discrepancy is noticed. By then it is always too late, and the end user is often left dissatisfied.

Therefore, be aware of this and where possible, it is by far the best option to ensure that the door hardware and cabinet hardware are selected from the one manufacturer. This ensures consistency in both style and finish. There are a number of finishes available some of which can be found here.

5. Environmental Compatibility and Types of Material

Consumers are much better educated as to environmental issues and product make up than ever before. This year is no exception. There are as many different styles of door and cabinet hardware as there are doors and cupboards to fit them, so be prepared to spend some time researching.

Door hardware in brass or antique bronze may look better in a warm-coloured home, while cooler schemes fit with stainless steel, porcelain, or chrome hardware. If you are using an interior designer, they may be able to help with this decision. Don’t forget to check out ‘What style is that? – Making sense of architectural styles’ here for a wealth of ideas.

If you live in tropical areas or near the ocean, then your door hardware must be able to withstand the weather elements such as humidity and salt. In these environments 316 marine grade stainless steel is being used more often, 316 grade is salt resistant and will stand up to the test of time. For internal doors, handles with a Micronised finish are very popular – satin chrome is generally more resistant to corrosion than brushed nickel. No matter where you are located, your door and cabinet hardware needs to be long lasting and remain operable for as long as you need it to.

6. Styling – the New Norm

Entrance Pull Handles 1

Designers are now approaching their door handle and cabinet hardware design in the same way that they would approach any other interior design task. What is the overall theme in the building you are choosing the handles for? Then they consider the design of the room it will be used in and, finally, the type of door design that the handles will be used with. For more on understanding architectural styles and handles read ‘What style is that? – Making sense of architectural styles’ here.

Where a traditional design approach is taken throughout a home, then choosing innovative angular handles is unlikely to work aesthetically, and if its contemporary curves then a straight chrome door handle may not act as a contrast, it may just look out of place. For an in depth understanding of styles and handles view this and the accompanying slide on the subject.

Designers and consumers also consider the types of door and cabinet designs. Some people use different door and cabinet designs on different floors of their homes, some prefer the same door design throughout and a few enjoy being completely individual and will have a range of door and furniture designs throughout their property. 

When you consider your door handles, you need to take your door decisions into account. For example, if you have all the same door designs throughout, do you want matching chrome door handles for consistency or do you want to differentiate your floors or rooms with different handle designs to add that design edge? Do you want your door handles to have the same colour and finish but with different designs or the same design with different colours and finishes? 

If you’ve decided to be daring in your door and cabinet design, do you want a handle that mirrors that bravery, or do you want a more classic handle to highlight the difference and individuality of your door designs? For further reading see ‘What style is that? – Making sense of architectural styles’ here.

7. Brushed Nickel

The soft metallic look of brushed nickel is one of the great news breaks of 2018. Consumers are ‘eating’ this finish due to its luscious appearance, its soft silvery hue and its ability to stand out yet blend in seamlessly with most interiors. It has the advantage of complementing stainless steel in all its forms and is a designer’s favorite.

This is also one of the most durable finishes and keeps its finish longer than oil-rubbed bronze and chrome. It doesn’t show wear, fingerprints or water spots. It’s easy to clean, easy to find and easy to match with accessories and other fixtures. One of the advantages is that it looks great with chrome. So, if you have chrome fittings, brushed nickel look imperious alongside it.

8. A Return to the Past

There is increasing demand this year for the past glory of bygone eras. Styles rooted in Rome, Greece and Italy are making a comeback in the form of antique and traditional designs. Finishes such as antique bronze, oil rubbed bronze, antique copper are all becoming more and more popular.

Design is not static, it ebbs and flows and comes and goes. Good designers know this and stay attuned to trends and consumers needs. Also, the internet has opened the eyes of the designer and the consumer to exactly what the trends are across the world. Its never been easier to stay tuned in.

Apollo Special Finish
Apollo electroplated to create the Antique Finish

9. What is the Warranty on That?

Thanks to much greater openness and the accessibility to our rights under consumer law, consumers are taking much more notice of things like quality and warranty details. Warranty on products is like a Pandora’s box of unknowns. There is a trend to rely more on social media comments and blogs. Whilst this may help, often it can be misleading either way due to self-serving comments by the manufacturer or by non-balanced reporting by people not qualified. The warranty is therefore a ‘key’ source of assurance as to how good the product really is. If it has a warranty greater than ten years, this gives consumers the peace of mind that they need to make their buying decision.

10. A Micronised Finish

Vulcan Door Handle – Micronised finish applied

A Micronised finish is becoming a ‘must have’ especially in areas near the ocean where the salt and corrosion levels are harsher. A Micronised finish is the highest quality of polishing or smoothing that can be carried out on the metal (or substrate material) prior to the final surface coating being applied.

It is a very specialised process and is only used as a methodology on the very best quality handles. A Micronised finish is a much longer polishing process as there are several different stages of the process using finer and finer grit grades.

The advantages are that the final product is beautifully finished, is much smoother and is far more corrosion resistant. With many handles, they corrode because of porosity (tiny holes in the surface of the material) that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

In poor quality handles, porosity can sometimes even be seen! Porosity allows the moisture from the environment or our hands to enter and because of the inherent acid, the handles corrode. Micronisation prevents this from occurring.