An awareness of interior trends, bespoke faceplate options, finishes and changes in technology will give you the edge in conversation with your customers. PEW hears from Focus SB on the trends to keep an eye on.
Popularity of finishes is constantly on the Focus radar, as the company offers in-house expertise to professional electricians, design consultants, building contractors and specifiers via its project support services.
Are trends translating to orders?
Looking back at 2016 through to 2018 Focus SB’s product consultants out on the road saw a rise in interest from customers wanting light switch and socket outlet faceplates with sharper corners. Focus SB consultants are always on the lookout to see if the latest interior trends such as the desire for vintage or predictions for ‘maximalism’, the influence of curves from 60s and 70s furniture design or metallic finish details of Art Deco grandeur, translate through to orders. Focus continually assess just how influential trends are on the electrical accessories market and how relevant these might be, enabling the business to best support customers and wholesalers.
Confirmed orders placed during 2017/2018 didn’t reflect the anticipated rise in sales for faceplates with sharp corners according to Focus SB’s sales and marketing manager, Steve Moss, who stated at the time: “A quarter of business currently reflects an increase in sales of trimless Horizon Classic faceplates featuring rounded corners.”
Anticipated trends for sharper corners took time to filter through, from initial conversation to confirmed orders, with 2019/2021 seeing sales for this style on the increase. Steve Moss comments: “Over the last 12 months approximately 36% of our sales favour sharper corners, with Horizon Square our top selling faceplate style.”
Moss continues: “Orders for faceplates finished in polished chrome and nickel increased in popularity in 2017/2018. From autumn 2017 into summer 2018, matt black and antique brass were the clear winners, outstripping demand for other finishes, with continued growth in popularity for metallic detailing throughout an interior; whether with a ‘softened chic industrial’ or ‘minimalist’ style.
“We’re also seeing an increase in the desire to be able to match faceplate designs and finishes for light switches, dimming and power outlets to smart home and security products such as Focus SB’s panic alarm button and sounder cover plates, and a significant increase in the number of enquiries and orders for keypad faceplates suitable for controls including Lutron, Control4 and Rako for example.”
Total solution for wholesalers
Focus SB often hear from wholesalers that interior designers or other professionals visiting trade counters or showrooms want to match faceplate finishes with either existing installations or specialist products, and availability of products with matching finishes is likely to be difficult or time consuming to source. As Focus SB manufactures and finishes all faceplates and components in-house, its able to offer customers an unrivalled design and finish solution which solves this problem.
The recent partnership with Lutron has seen the introduction of a new raw brass faceplate kit and Palladiom Bespoke Metals finishes collection available to order via Lutron for its HomeWorks QS Wired Palladiom bespoke keypads. Embracing the art of custom finishing, this offering gives control systems installers, specifiers and end users a broader range of options for scene setting, and includes the unusual and new striking finishes from the recently launched ‘Nature Inspired’ collection. As well as 20 standard finishes, there is potential for hundreds of different customised finishes enabling designers to match to other hardware, fixtures and accents, offering continuity of finish throughout an interiors project.
Steve Moss says: “Faceplate and switch finish options like satin stainless steel and primed finishes (ready for painting) have been popular for a number of years, and we are seeing increasing demand for finishes like satin nickel, antique brass, various bronze finishes such as our Jordan and chocolate bronzes, matt black and matt white. Our latest offering in collaboration with Lutron as well as the ability to match our products to multiple third party products gives our customers the edge when it comes to ease of sourcing products that offer continuity of design and finish throughout a project. Wholesalers know that when they order electrical accessories products from Focus SB, they have a straightforward flexible solution from just one manufacturer.”
Traditional vs high tech
“With many city centre commercial, warehouse and office premises being converted for residential or mixed use, the requirement for high quality monochromatic faceplate finishes in matt white and matt black has increased significantly. Often developers and designers will also try to utilise reclaimed building materials and look to use electrical switches and sockets with ‘distressed’ and unusual finishes,” explains Moss.
“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 and cause unnecessary complexity, especially if the property is used as a second home. Increasingly touch screen proprietary controls are being replaced (or supplemented) utilising simple ‘push-to-make’ retractive rocker, toggle switches or push buttons for a more traditional appearance. Often these switches will interface with proprietary ‘whole house’ complex control system installations. Focus SB offers to provide wholesalers with a one-stop shop for traditional products and finishes as well as faceplates for more high-tech solutions.”
Moss concludes: “Our typical customers are not impulse buyers, so we collaborate with wholesalers who want to offer a standard collection with the advantage of niche, bespoke ‘non counter’ products.”
For a look at the full range of finishes click HERE