The Open and shut case for Design Thinking

The most dangerous phrase in language is “we’ve always done it this way.”
­­– The RealBanksy

 

If you’re an architect or designer, this tweet from Banksy sums up the frustration creative people often face when trying to bring fresh ideas to life.

 

Many outside the industry think the only challenge for architects is getting ideas past clients who may lack imagination.  Actually, we’re finding customers today are becoming more discerning and more receptive to bespoke solutions.  More often it’s the struggle to build and install that limits creativity.

 

If you’re a designer, chances are your plans have been compromised in the past by the reactionary push-back of joiners, manufacturers and tradespeople who aren’t prepared to collaborate.  The “we’ve always done it this way” attitude stifles innovation.  Many suppliers are quick to challenge and slow to contribute.  Too few show genuine enthusiasm for new ideas; if only there was more “what if we tried this?”

Giant timber louvre skylightround louvre skylight

There is cause for hope.  We’ve had an increasing number of conversations with clients and on social media about the benefits of Design Thinking in bringing new ideas to fruition.  When it comes to louvers and shutters, there are an increasing number of enquiries from designers whose clients are no longer just settling for off-the-shelf solutions.

 

Clients are raising thoughtful wishes for ways to divide spaces flexibly, seeking more fluid connections between inside and out, new ideas for defining outside spaces and managing privacy.  There is also a growing recognition of sustainability of materials and natural ways of managing light and air.  We are enabling these new trends.

 

Design Thinking is an integral part of OpenShutters' organisation

Over twenty years we’ve listened to clients and their needs and explored with architects lateral ways to solve design challenges.  This has required ongoing re-investment in training, as well as constantly introducing new technologies and developing our purpose-built manufacturing facility on the Central Coast.  Investment in people and practices has enabled the evolution of a better range of products.

 

With an open mind, we’ve explored the properties of materials and their performance over time in interior and exterior applications, from different timber species to hundreds of fixtures and fittings.  We’ve also learned a lot from feedback from homeowners over years of use.

Design Thinking process for shutters

 

While others simply supply, we take responsibility for the entire project.

This extends from concept and prototyping, through manufacture to supervising installation. So our learning is all encompassing, all with an eye for ensuring usability and longevity.

 

The last decade has seen many local manufacturers close as Australia has been swamped with cheap mass-produced products.  We’ve maintained a value-adding relationship with architects and designers who don’t believe in compromise.  Our reputation for quality bespoke timber louvers, screens and shutters that are fit for purpose and last continues.  It’s the result of a long-term family business view – a determined belief in the timeless value of great design and craftsmanship.

Open Shutters state of the art machineryMotorise external cedar louvres

An open mind to what’s possible with louvres

Over decades we’ve built on these experiences to establish a Design Thinking culture.  Our name says it all, we are open to new ideas and random thoughts from diverse sources.  This means when you ask for a new way to fill an opening, when others say it can’t be done, we have a method for bringing ideas to life.

 

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Shutters in all shapes

Shutters in all shapes made in Australia

OpenShutters have been the leading maker of cedar shutters in Australia for over 20 years. We are specialists in creating shutters and louvers in all shapes and sizes. Architects come to us when others say “not possible”.

Here are some of our designs that show just what is possible:
Round plantation shuttersRound skylight timber louvres
Triangle shuttersConservatory shaped shutters
Arch cedar shuttersShaped plantation shuttersArched window shutterShaped window shutter

Why we love wood

OpenShutters' timber of choice is solid western red cedar. This sustainable timber is light weight, a good insulator, stores carbon, long lasting and very stable. We use cedar not only when a natural timber finish is required, it's used in our white painted shutters as well as in louvres and screens. This is not the industry norm, paint often hides many compromises for the unwary.

Unfortunately others use 'manufactured' or 'engineered timbers' – cheap pieces of wood from a variety of unstable timbers which are glued together to create one piece. Some imported shutters, sold as western red cedar, are in actual fact an 'engineered timber' core with a cedar veneer surface glued on. This is a cheap alternative for the manufacturer but offers little benefit to the end user. Wherever glue is used there is a risk of de-lamination and cracking.
Oval plantation shuttersLarge motorised round timber louvres

Open shaped louvers and shutters open and close

Our master craftsmen love a challenge. Over the years they have shown whenever a designer asks us to create a shutter in an unusual shape, they can generally make it with blades that can open and close. From oval plantation shutters for homes, to the 6meter diameter motorised cedar louvre pictured in our factory prior to installation at the Burwood RSL.

This heritage roof gable louvre, pictured below, is a perfect example of how we can solve architect's problems. The original was a timber vent with fixed louvres. Our team replicated the proportions and original features in western red cedar, with blades that now can be adjusted to let in light and air, or closed to shed rain.
Triangle gable timber louvres

Whatever your project needs, just speak to us. We're local and would love the opportunity to bring your ideas to life. Call Wendy on 1300 136 911 between 9am and 4pm (Mon-Thu) or 9am and 1pm (Fri) for the cost of a local call.
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Our favourite Australian designers at designEX 2014

This year getting to designEX in Sydney was harder than just finding the time, it was an orienteering challenge. Attendance was proof you were a determined design tragic, you had to find the temporary exhibition space tucked away in the back of an old container terminal under the Balmain side of Anzac Bridge. No walking access and a steep flat fee for parking then a hike across the tarmac to a back door entrance certainly was a barrier for many. Lets hope the new Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre justifies the inconvenience as well as the demolition of Cox's 80s Darling Harbour buildings.

So if you didn't make it to designEX this year you are excused. Here are our favourite Australian designs, they caught our eye for inspiring ways to use timber. As you can appreciate we love wood, so we'd like to spread the warm feelings.  Check them out on our Pinterest account too!

Now trending – Australian designers love wood

     Bathroomware by Wood Melbourne
Timber spiral staircase by enzie with continuous steel frame (left) and timber bathroomware by Wood Melbourne.

Wood lamp shades DesignexTimber bike rack Designex
Wood lampshades with retro twist (left) and timber bike storage rack by Brisbane based Work-Shop BY MGDC.

Wooden chair by Anomaly  Wood tray by Anomaly
Simple stripped back design – wood chair and timber trays, both by Anomaly.

      Fold Theory cardboard chairs
Classic timber framed lounge chair (left) was in stark contrast to the cardboard version by Fold Theory.

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Colour and hue for designers

ROYGBIV primary colour shutters

Looking beyond the primary colours of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo & Violet.

You won't be surprised to discover white has consistently been the most popular choice for painted shutters over the years. What you may not be aware of is a rediscovery of the warmth and timeless qualities of natural timber finishes. At the same time, a confident use of vibrant colour is making a resurgence.

There is an art to working with colour. In this video an artist explains the basics of understanding colour and hue.



Are you colour blind?

It's helpful to know some theory behind what makes colour work in a design sense. It's also important to know if what you see is the same as someone else. To understand whether you are talking about the same thing, you need to know if you or the people you are working with are colour blind. About 1 in 10 males and 1 in 200 females have the most common red-green form of colour blindess. Around one in thirty females see colours men can't.

Take this simple colour blindness test, and see for yourself if you are colour blind.



See how you rate on a more incremental colour arrangement test.

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What colour is white? How designers see it.

When you think white, what you see in your mind might not match what you see. As designers often find, one person's idea of white can be different to others'. The differences can be caused by a number of factors.

What is pure white?

White is the lightest colour your eyes can possibly see. Light is made up of three components, red, green and blue. White is what your eye sees when light is brighter than the surroundings and has the red, green, and blue in exactly equal shares. It has no shading or greyness and no hint of any colour. Yet what we actually perceive is effected by everything from the brightness of the surroundings to the source of light. For instance, whether we are outdoors in bright sunshine or inside at night under 30 watt light bulb, the same white will look different.


Colour temperature of light in Kelvin

White paint and light

When we view a white painted shutter under a low pressure light bulb it will actually look a pale creamy yellow. Whereas if we were to turn on a halogen bulb lamp it would look white. Different light sources can be measured by their "temperature", which runs on a scale of degrees Kelvin (K) from low to high. Not to be confused with the temperature of the air, the colour temperature of a light source doesn't change with the weather. As we move up the scale of K temperature of each light source, the colour hue changes, from shades of warm red and yellow, through crisp clear white, to blue.

The next chart shows the K temperature of different lights. It is ordered by the CRI value, which is an ascending measure of brightness. Depending on the type of light a white shutter is viewed under, the same white could look a different hue of colour and shade of grey.

Lights from lowest colour temperature 1800K & least bright -44

light colour index chart

light colour index chart

A white shutter viewed under a traditional low pressure light bulb of 1800K will appear a pale pinkish hue and because it's a dim light slightly dull or grey. When lit by a "warm-white" flourescent tube at a higher 2940K, it will appear slightly yellowy cream. And viewed under a "cool-white" 4230K flourescent tube, it will have a bright white and bluish hue, approaching how it would appear in daylight.

White paint hues and changing fashions

Over the years we've seen different white paints come in and out of fashion:
80s Antique White
90s White Opal
90s Antique White USA
2000s Hog Bristle
Today Natural White and the blue hued Lexicon are the popular choices.

When choosing a white paint for your project, consider if the shutters are going to be viewed indoors or out, with warm or cool lighting. Also consider how it will fit in with the surrounding surfaces, paint and materials, are they warm or cool hues of colour? View your swatches of shades and hues of white under the light conditions that the finished shutter will be installed. Then you'll know what to expect when your shutter is installed.

A paint manufacturer's range of white shades


White shutters installed by Luigi Rosselli Architects, viewed in daylight

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Central Coast manufacturers plan for growth

Business owners met at Open to learn how government initiatives can grow manufacturing on the NSW central coast
A recent gathering of around 50 leading Central Coast manufacturers at the OpenShutters manufacturing facility at Berkeley Vale discussed the future opportunities for manufacturing in Australia. Government representatives from Central Coast Manufacturing Connect presented details on a range of funding schemes available for businesses based in Australia. 

central coast manufacturing

Many of the local manufacturers that attended are already successfully trading nationally and internationally. Increasingly, innovation is key to growth for Australian manufacturers as globalisation turns the outputs of traditional production approaches into commodities that have to compete on price.

An Australian manufacturing innovation case study

OpenShutters is a good news story of a family business that has not just survived, but thrived, by continually evolving it's products using design thinking. While most local manufacturers of timber shutters have closed over the last decade in the face of cheap mass produced imports from China, Indonesia and now even Russia, OpenShutters has continued to provide a bespoke design and production service from the central coast. OpenShutters collaborates with architects and builders around Australia who require a premium shutter to their exacting specifications.
central coast manufacturers

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Flood with Hail at OpenShutters

Massive storm last night, got woken with lots of thunder, lightening and rain.  Little did we know that while we were all sleeping the water and hail was rushing through the offices and factory here at Berkeley Vale.

See pictures of water in the factory, and the hail was still on the ground at 1pm.

A big thank you to the team helping clean up water for floors, carpets and machines throughout.  Lots more to go before things will be back to normal.
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Plantation Shutter not what they used to be

When is a shutter not a shutter?

Gone are the days when a Plantation Shutter is made of timber, painted white with a 90mm aerofoil blade that fits over a bedroom window in place of a curtain.

2013 is witnessing a revolution.

Shutters come in many styles, colours and a variety of materials.  They are being used inside, outside, on windows, as screening for privacy, room dividers and in fact designers and architects are seeking bespoke shutter solutions.

Natural timber is enjoying a resurgence.

Aluminium is being used outside as a screening and shade provider.

OpenShutters continue to take these innovative designs and create solutions that work.
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