Shaping Design Thinking

Architects and designers are consistently coming up with innovative designs which present challenges for those tasked with coming up with answers.  At OpenShutters, we embrace such challenges, and throughout the years have overcome many issues by thinking outside the box when suggesting bespoke solutions.

If you can imagine it, we can create it……………

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Student Trek - The Next Generation

OpenShutters is a firm believer in businesses continuing to provide opportunities for young people, which is why a large percentage of the team which produces our custom made shutters is made up of apprentices.  Our apprentices, in conjunction with Central Coast Group Training, are schooled in the detailed craftsmanship and finishing techniques on which our product stands.

We were also delighted to be invited to take part in the Central Coast’s recent “Try a Skill” day which took place at the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle.  Gail and our newest apprentice, Keller, took part in the event which is targeted at school students from 26 Central Coast schools, and drew around 400 participants throughout the day.

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Heat Retention

Shutters are often thought of as an efficient way of blocking out heat from your home during the summer, but there’s also the (often understated) benefit of insulation from the cold as well.

As we enter the winter months, it is worth revisiting this infographic to be reminded of how crucial openings are in retaining warmth in your house.

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20 Years and Counting.....

Although we started in the Blue Mountains, OpenShutters moved to the Central Coast of New South Wales at the very end of the 1995 calendar year, and have been designing and manufacturing our custom made shutters here ever since.

We are delighted to recognise the contribution of two of our longest serving staff members, Lesley McLaren and Tony McDonald, both of whom celebrate 20 years with OpenShutters this month.
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All shapes and sizes

Here at OpenShutters, we don't believe in "normal".  The word limits creativity and suggests something cannot be done.  So when we were asked to manufacture our heritage-style fixed 80mm blade shutters to a panel height of 3.9 metres, we were only too happy to oblige.................

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In or outdoor living revisited

With the warmer weather on the horizon, we thought we'd re-visit our blog which demonstrated the flexibility a shutter solution can provide.

Read more below.........................


Shutters create outdoor verandah

Are you inside or out? Shutters let you choose.

Did your parents used to tell you to "shut the door behind you, do we live in a tent?" 

Australians no longer need to live in houses that force us to choose between being inside or out. For a wide-open, big-sky country, the appeal of bringing the outdoors in makes sense. OpenShutter's range of timber shutters and aluminium louvres open new possibilities for flexible use of the built space. They let people control the level of openness depending on the time of day, season or mood.

How architects are creating indoor outdoor living spaces

Here are some of our favourite design solutions for managing the transition between external and interior living spaces by Australian and international architects.

Indoor outdoor room

When these shutters open the outside comes in, a finalist for the 2014 AIA National Architecture Awards.

Louvre verandah privacy

Pittwater privacy screens, or enjoy the view.

Aluminium balcony shutters

Aluminium shutters are the practical choice for outside waterside.

 Outdoor dining space shutters  

When the sun is high, raise the shutters.

Timber louvre garden shelter

Timber garden shelter by BKK Architects.

Timber louvre walls barn

Louvre walls open out on Barn House Eelde / Kwint Architects.

Federation verandah in Mosman before and after OpenShutters

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Which Shutters Provide the Best Insulation?

Window shutters are a valuable addition to any home, adding a unique style that will last the ages. Available in a wide assortment of styles, materials and colours, designers and home owners are left with no shortage of choice when deciding on which shutters are best suited to their project.

Beyond the aesthetic appeal, shutters play a crucial role in the comfort of a home. The amount of light, air and heat allowed in and out can all be significantly impacted by the type of shutter specified.

With the cost of electricity in Australia at an all-time high, and sustainability a key element of modern design, the thermal performance of a shutter is one of the most important considerations in the specification process.

As glass windows possess virtually no insulation qualities, heat easily escapes in winter and radiates inwards in summer, causing an over reliance on heaters and air conditioners. The addition of shutters essentially create a barrier that results in notably improved insulation – hence the oft-recited ‘warmer in winter, cooler in summer’ mantra of so many window covering companies.

However, not all materials are created equal, and as such not all window shutters provide the same level of insulation.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and debate over style starts and ends with personal preference, the conversation regarding thermal properties of different shutter materials has been far more contentious, with claims from all corners that their shutter is best.

A recent study from The University of Newcastle School of Engineering compared the most popular types of window coverings in regards to thermal performance, with performance measured by the percentage of temperature difference achieved by each.

The study involved the testing of a range of windows covering types, including shutters, blind and curtains, and a range of different materials including polystyrene, aluminium, basswood, thermo PVS and western red cedar.

While some results were already foregone conclusion (don’t rely on curtains for insulation), the performance of other popular materials may surprise.

To see which shutters provide the best thermal insulation, check out the results in this infographic.


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Made in Australia for Australian conditions

A brighter future for manufacturing in Australia

A brighter future for manufacturing in Australia

Our family owned business has been making bespoke timber shutters and louvres in Australia for over two decades. The OpenShutters factory on the NSW Central Coast has been a vital part of the local community, offering fulfilling career paths for hundreds over the years. Numerous specialist local suppliers are also part of our extended family.

Manufacturing is still the fourth largest employing industry in Australia, with 945,900 people (or 8.2% of the total workforce). While most people are aware of the loss of some jobs to robots in factories overseas, the good news is less well known. Over the the last decade Australian wood product manufacturing employment was up by 12,400 or 29.6%.

Training young staff and innovation will ensure the longevity of shutters Made in Australia

The stats show the manufacturing sector workforce is older than the workforce as a whole, with 39.7% of manufacturing workers aged between 45-64 years, compared with 35.6% across all industries. OpenShutters has taken the initiative to counter this trend.

Perhaps it’s time to look beyond using the term sustainable and start thinking regenerative. Most recognise you can’t have a sustainable forest if you don’t regenerate what you remove. We believe to have a sustainable business we need to train the next generation of staff to carry on the tradition of our more experienced craftspeople.

This is why we have a continuing program of training and development. It has made our people award-winners, again and again. OpenShutters has been recognized with:
  • The Australian Business Limited president's award for education and training
  • State Training Award, NSWBC
  • Host Employer of the Year, Central Coast Group Training, two years in a row
  • Large Employer of the Year state finalist, Group Training Association of NSW
  • Employer of the Year, CC Business Excellence Awards 
  • Long Serving Host Employer Award, 15 years, Central Coast Group Training

The OpenShutters team includes qualified carpenters, joiners, cabinet makers and other specialists passing on decades of knowledge to our young trainees. Along with a lower Aussie dollar, we see a bright future for making quality shutters and louvres from sustainable timber for Australian conditions, here in Australia.

Source: ABS, Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, Quarterly, cat. no. 6291.0.55.003, four quarter average of original data.

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Why we invested big in solar power

Less energy in manufacture makes for a better environment. The 40kw solar power system Open has installed is a win-win – the money saved over time Open will put back into R&D to create an even better shutter.

Designing a better future

How often have you bought something and, before you know it, find yourself throwing it out because it broke or didn’t perform as expected. Too many of the items we buy look good in the store but fail to deliver any lasting value.

Perhaps one answer is to spend more, on less. There is an emerging theory that we would all be better off by avoiding the temptation to have more stuff. Forget idle fancies and superficial products, concentrate on what will add value to your life over time. Then do your research and buy the best you can afford so it lasts.

At OpenShutters we practice what we preach – when we invest in a project, we do so with no less a desire for long lasting value than we would expect of our customers. One way to afford better is to spend less on power. Which is why we’ve made a sizable investment in solar power with the installation of over 100 solar panels at our 2800m2 Central Coast factory.

Less energy in manufacture makes for a better environment

Solar power is a win-win, not only does it deliver long lasting value but also an ongoing positive environmental impact. The money the 40kw system will save over time OpenShutters will put back into R&D to create an even better shutter.

Back in 2004 we won the Energy Australia Innovation Award for Environmental Practice. OpenShutters continues to champion new ways to embed sustainability into our products, it’s one of the reasons we continue to manufacture in our own factory in Australia. This enables us to control everything that goes into the production process.

OpenShutters source cedar from eco-managed sustainable forests, we accept responsibility for waste management and run a comprehensive recycling program. Timber shavings go to local sporting and farming operations; metal off-cuts are recycled; and paint waste is disposed of responsibly.


Specify cedar OpenShutters – the sustainable solution to control room temperature

As well as being responsibly made, our cedar shutters continue to repay savvy purchasers for years by lowering heating and cooling costs. Cedar shutters have an R value 4 times that of brick. Whether installed in domestic or commercial projects, Western Red Cedar is an excellent thermal insulator, far outperforming polymer, concrete or steel. In fact, cedar prevents heat transfer over 2,000 times more efficiently than aluminium. Something to consider when planning your next project.

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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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