Dominant Trends in 2018
An awareness of interiors trends, bespoke plate options, finishes and changes in technology will give you the edge in conversation with your customers.
Popularity of finishes is constantly on our radar, as we offer in-house expertise in this area. Product consultants out on the road have seen a rise in interest from customers wanting plates with sharper corners over the past 18 months. Last year our blog featured architectural technologist John Smith MCIAT, Cityzen Ltd, who commented: “I think trends tend to be quite fickle. For example, over the past five years, we’ve seen the plate thickness reduce and the corners get sharper“.
Confirmed orders placed over the last year doesn’t reflect the anticipated rise in sales for plates with sharp corners according to sales and marketing manager, Steve Moss, who states: “A quarter of business currently reflects an increase in sales of trimless Horizon Classic plates, featuring rounded corners.
Moss continues: “Orders for plates finished in polished chrome and nickel increased in popularity this time last year. From early Autumn into this year, matt black and antique brass are the clear winners, outstripping demand for other finishes right now. This reflects current trends for the continuing growth in popularity for metallic detailing throughout an interior; with a ‘softened chic industrial style’.”
Ross Thornhill, product consultant, says of the latest and future trends: “Customers are now looking for far more simple, elegant and contemporary styles for their electrical switches and sockets. A low visual profile for the accessory seems to be the norm. Whilst faceplate and switch finish options like satin stainless steel and primed finishes (ready for painting) have been popular for a number of years, we are seeing increasing demand for finishes like satin nickel, antique brass, various bronze finishes.
“With many city centre commercial, warehouse and office premises being converted for residential use, the requirement for high-quality monochromatic faceplate finishes in matt white and matt black has increased significantly. Often developers and designers will try to utilise reclaimed building materials and look to use electrical switches and sockets with ‘distressed’ and unusual finishes.
“Most clients embrace the benefits of energy efficient LED lighting, however many are less than happy to choose high tech multi-button and touch screen lighting control systems to operate the lighting. These controls in many cases will ‘jar’ in terms of visual appearance with the property’s décor. Traditional rotary dimmers seem to be the preferred choice for controlling lighting. Increasingly touch screen and multi-button scene setting controls are being replaced (or supplemented) by systems utilising simple ‘push-to-make’ retractive rocker and dolly switches or push-button ‘bell-pushes’ of traditional appearance. Often these switches will interface with proprietary ‘whole house’ complex control system installations.
Power to the port
Thornhill concludes: “Mobile ‘phones, tablets and personal electronic items are increasing using standardised methods of charging ie the USB charger. Many 2 gang 13 amp UK specification sockets are available with USB chargers. We can expect the requirement for this product to ‘upgrade’ in the future as the devices will require larger batteries and a charging requirement that current specification USB chargers will not be able to cope with. This will be known as a ‘power delivery port’.”
Our typical customers are not impulsive buyers, so we collaborate with wholesalers who want to offer niche, bespoke ‘non-counter’ products.
Benjamin Pratt, B Electrical London, comments: “Finding a complete range of matching switch plates can be difficult, especially when non-standard additional plates are requested. I know Focus SB will be able to produce a bespoke plate to accompany their ranges. Their level of customer service is excellent; separating an order and sending inserts to be able to 2nd fix circuits and enabling testing to commence before the plates are ready is something other suppliers wouldn’t accommodate.
“When visiting wholesalers I like being able to see as many products as possible and to know what special promotions are running. Promotional offers can be of use to keep as stock, or you may be able to use it on a current job allowing for extra savings. It always reminds me to ask what other offers are on for a particular type of product I have come in for on the off chance there is one that isn’t being displayed.”
Original article supplied by Focus SB, published by W&ED Wholesaler & Electrical Distributor, Issue 9 page 30, May 2018.
For 2019 trends comment on residential and hotel technology, read our fascinating interview with Goddard Littlefair associate David Lee Hood.