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2022 / 02 / 24
Home > News > Aluminium window trends based on customer needs

Aluminium window trends based on customer needs

When it comes to aluminium windows and doors, the name ‘KAV’ has become associated with custom client needs. Many of the ideas and plans that come to our attention can lead later on to the development of aluminium windows and doors. So, if we want to present the trends for 2022, it is worth starting with what Károly Lovász, Managing Director of KAV, and Csaba Mravik, Chief Development Engineer, have experienced and what products are now being sought by builders of family homes.

What have you seen? In what ways have the needs of your customers changed?

Károly Lovász: My experience is that there is an increasingly marked separation between the needs of the so-called middle and upper categories. For those family houses where the owner would like to create a truly premium building, the demands have increased further in terms of both products and services. What we’re seeing is that, if a customer intends to live in a calibrated quality building, or to sell such a house, they’re coming with determination. When they come to us, they’ve already discussed it in detail with the designer, so they know and understand what kind of façade element and cubature they’d like to see; and what kind of experience they want to have while using aluminium windows. They are also much more strong-minded about the use of the building than 5 or 10 years ago. They have more precise knowledge and therefore more specific ideas about, for example, the use of the terrace, the kitchen, the living room and the connections between these and the façade windows. Unfortunately, however, the designs don’t reflect this, so we have a much greater role to play in investigating and implementing the customer’s needs and defining them in the designs. And customers from the increasingly stronger mid-range segment often come to us with ambivalent feelings: they want something very good, but much cheaper than the premium range. Many times it takes us much longer to find the right products for them, without neglecting the intentions of the designer. One reason for this is that competitors in the market, often selling completely basic concept products as premium ones, predestine completely basic aluminium door and window systems for jobs that would otherwise have no place on the construction site. Many times we have to “tidy up” the minds of clients and often of architects, which causes more work in the mid-range.

Talking about specific products, what are customers looking for in the premium category?

L.K.: Frameless sliding door systems have become almost universal. They don’t want to have a casing, and they don’t want to see any sash. However, contrary to earlier trends, motorisation needs have declined, so a lot more people want to operate this type of structure manually, rather than having a computer to control their house. They have more trust in mechanical rather than electrically operated systems. This may also be due to the fact that these days, unfortunately, there is a shortage of qualified, reliable low-voltage electricians in Hungary. In addition, the price of electronics has skyrocketed because of world market issues, so the price difference between mechanical and electrical versions of the same window became much bigger. We can see a trend to abandon sidelights and skylights for large aluminium entrance doors. Many customers look for so-called pivot doors, i.e. asymmetric swing doors. They want to open up as much surface area as possible, with a design solution that is also as attractive as possible. Interestingly, the slightly thicker frame isn’t raised as an issue by anyone, nor that the larger glass plane makes the door heavier. Because an entrance door (similarly to a sliding door) is open for about a tenth of one percent of its lifetime, they try to keep it nice and bright when closed instead. There has also been a kind of shift in terms of windows, in that more and more people are using fixed ones and, interestingly, opening roofs have also significantly declined in favour of fixed ones. This is also possible because mechanical ventilation is pretty widespread and used almost everywhere, so fewer opening surfaces are necessary.

And what about shading?

L.K.: It is a great pleasure for me that while 5 years ago we had to convince the designers, today we have reached the point where everybody’s realised that nobody should build a home in Hungary with huge glass surfaces but without shading, because it will be uninhabitable. In the houses where no shading was planned initially but we were able to convince the client, the quality of life has improved and the use of the building has become much more comfortable. More and more people are choosing serious glazing, and here not only solar protection but other knowledge has become an important aspect. Personal safety continues to be important, so customers almost always ask for safety glass for interior connections. We usually prefer to do this from the outside as well where there is a terrace connection, because there is a risk of a direct break due to contact with a knee. Another interesting point is the differentiation of living spaces; in other words, in those living spaces where most of the time is spent – for example in a living room, kitchen area, lounge area or staircase – the price difference for frameless systems is accepted. In bedrooms, guest rooms and other lower-rank spaces, on the other hand, people often ask for conventional lift-and-slide systems rather than paying for the extra cost of frameless solutions.

Csaba Mravik: I can only confirm what you mentioned. I also see that customers are becoming more thoughtful in asking questions and more thoughtful about indicating their needs. They express where in the living space they’d like to open or move the doors or windows, where they’d like to have a larger glass surface. Once we have that sorted out, or figured it out, we can then move on to the other areas. I increasingly sense that clients want to shape their living spaces to their own image, to their own use, to their own needs, and they ask for assistance to achieve this. Once it happens, we can then talk about supplementary or subordinate rooms. This kind of awareness is a very good direction.

Are you seeing the same trends in the premium and mid categories?
Cs.M: In the premium segment, I feel they need our help. We need to present the approach of a door and window manufacturer and the product range to get ownership. In the so-called mid-category, customers come with specific functional ideas, so they’re less concerned about aesthetics. They start from everyday usability. In the premium category; the primary need is appearance, usually a slim frame, and they might even give usability a lower priority.

L.K.: In the premium category, the insistence on design and the need to implement a design is also very much felt by architects, by the way. Interestingly, whereas in the past they only thought about the cubus, the exterior appearance, these days they focus on the relationship between the interior and the exterior. The architect is often working alongside the interior designer at the design stage. So it is increasingly common that the client comes to us together with the architect and the interior designer. We don’t represent a single brand or one of its products, but we can offer a range of products from several brands and unique solutions. What’s more, and uniquely in our country, we also manufacture. No other competitor can offer this kind of freedom in this country, and our customers enjoy it and take advantage of it.
In the mid-category, where Csaba highlighted functionality, the search for a way forward is absolutely not brand-dependent but product- and price-dependent instead. So they don’t think in terms of Schüco or Reynaers windows and doors, but in terms of what’s the best product in terms of value for money that fits into their budget. That’s why I think that education and talking about these things have a key role to play. Sometimes even architects need an explanation of the relationship between shading and windows and doors, the thermal or operating aspects, or, for example, what recessed means when it comes to the threshold solution for a terrace cladding. The deliberation seen in the premium segment is also matched by the fact that, alongside the more thorough and targeted design thinking, it’s increasingly often for customers to come to us with their contractor. In other words, the professional “master” of the construction, as selected by the customer, is also involved in the selection of the windows and doors. This also helps, and often speeds up the customer’s decision-making.

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