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GGP August 2015

DOORS & COMMERCIAL ENTRANCES Deceptively simple design is the key to bi-fold success Neil Ginger, CEO at Origin, discusses the company’s design process and the R&D ethos that has led to it creating an award winning bi-fold system. Over the last 20 years, the bi-folding door market has grown at an exceptional rate, bringing with it an evolution in design as suppliers battle to become the market leader by displaying the latest design features and technology. For Origin, a British manufacturer of bespoke aluminium bi-fold doors, windows and blinds, the secret of great design lies in its simplicity. Opening doors with design From the start, Origin’s roots lay in design. Myself and my cousin, Victoria Brocklesby, started the company when we could not find a high quality bi-fold door supplier in the UK for my fathers’ swimming pool business. Our solution was to manufacture the UK’s best quality doors with uncompromising levels of service. Today, Origin is a £20m turnover business, employing 160+ people with operations in Dubai and North America. I might have designed the original Origin bi-fold door, but today, the company has its own team of designers and while the research and development side has grown significantly over the years, the focus remains the same – high quality engineering and a system designed with the customer in mind. This means offering the best solution for trade customers and the homeowner who will live with the doors for years to come. The trade partner’s priority is to install the system quickly, easily and to a high standard, without any call backs. For the customer, the priorities lie in having a product that will continue to function excellently for the next 20 to 30 years, while aesthetics also play an important part. Both considerations for the trade and consumer need to be taken on board, which is our job as the R&D team at Origin. Steering away from gimmicks As the popularity of bi-fold doors has risen, so has the temptation to produce the ‘next big thing’ on the marketplace. While open to new design, Origin is disciplined in steering away from gimmicks. For example, an electric bi-fold door may look cool, but in reality most homeowners wouldn’t use the function often enough to justify the cost. While slim sightlines lead to a more pleasing aesthetic, it is important to find a balance. If too small, the doors take on the appearance of products more akin to internal use, like a shower door. You also have the disadvantage of hampering the security of the doors. Origin champions the true function of the product. Our design discipline keeps this as the focus, and has allowed us to offer a 20 year guarantee – twice the industry standard. When considering a new design concept, the first question is whether a customer will use it, and whether it adds value to the existing system. Investment in research and development Origin has invested 5% of its annual turnover on product design and inhouse research and development in the last year alone. The 3D printer and design software, installed by Origin in 2014, has made a huge impact on the speed and accuracy at which the R&D arm of the business operates. It’s also allowed us to redesign, manufacture and test components inhouse for increased strength and durability. This year, Origin has been working on updating the design of the slave handle. The redesign for this went through 40 revisions of the same process; tweaking the radius, then printing it out again, then tweaking again, and so on. The 3D printer produces plastic printouts, but they work in the same way a metal component would, so we can get a feel for how the end product will function. Going for fold – the next big thing in bi-fold design The next big thing isn’t a product being launched. Instead, what everyone needs to be looking at right now is performance across the board. Improving the thermal efficiency of existing systems particularly will be key, especially with fuel prices on the rise. For Origin’s R&D team, the objectives for 2015 are to look at our award winning bi-fold door and window system and see how it can be improved – a job that’s easier said than done. 32 www.ggpmag.com August 2015


GGP August 2015
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