The right fitting with Hettich

Hettich, a German manufacturer of furniture fittings, recently opened a Hettich Experience Centre in Singapore that features myriad fittings for space conscious and storage efficient designs. To understand more about furniture fittings, and what plans the company has for Singapore and South East Asia, we speak to Matthias Bertl, managing director of Hettich SEA.

By Yap Shi Quan

Swinging open cabinet doors, pulling out a drawer compartment, moving furniture elements in other ways — furniture fittings ensure such experiences of using furniture are smooth and enjoyable. And Hettich strives to make this a reality for their customers with their aim of “creating the perfect combination of intelligent technology, functionality and design” in their solutions.

Since 1888, Hettich has been developing and producing a variety of fittings for different functions and design, with a focus on runners and drawer systems, hinges, and sliding and folding door systems. They are applicable to all kinds of wood furniture, and are in most cases hidden from view. Matthias Bertl, managing director of Hettich SEA, offered the Sensys Obsidian hinge as an example, a black hinge which blends with the dark colour interior of a wood furniture. “With high quality and durability, the Sensys Obsidian hinge will bring great experiences in using wood furniture,” he told Panels & Furniture Asia.

Hettich’s first Experience Centre in Singapore and South East Asia, opened in October 2021, seeks to provide interior designers and architects around the region solutions for versatile urban living in small spaces. As Bertl explained: “With living space becoming scarcer and limited, people will face the challenge of making the most efficient use of any room without cluttering it.

“This is where the intelligent storage space concepts from Hettich come in. Whether small or large rooms, Hettich’s fitting solutions will let you create and utilise every last inch of storage space, for storing household items hidden from view yet in easy reach, or giving your room a clever structure and easily keeping everything in its place. The result is a new style of home living: space conscious, structured, uncluttered.”

The Sensys Obsidian black hinge

A commitment to sustainability

On top of endeavouring to meet high standards of quality and safety, Hettich aims to meet high standards of environmental compatibility and energy efficiency as well. For instance, the company uses regularly collected environmental indicators to identify ecological and economic optimisation potential and evaluate the success of measures. The result? From 1996-2019, the Hettich Group registered a “55% reduction in specific CO2 emissions, which is about 2.3% per year”. They are looking forward to be completely carbon neutral in South East Asia by 2022.

Other measures to reduce their carbon footprint include replacing CO2-intensive transportation, like trucks, with other means of transport whenever possible, such as rail or ship. This helped the company to avoid 29,316kg of CO2 emissions in 2018, according to Bertl. They also design and dimension their own packaging for all sectors of the industry, so as to limit the amount of packaging according to the criteria “avoid, reuse, recycle”.

As a producer of furniture fittings, Hettich primarily works with metals, especially steel and zinc, and occasionally plastic, as Bertl explained: “Large quantities of steel are needed every year for the production of our drawers alone. This makes it all the more important that our systems are designed intelligently and with optimised use of materials.”

To reduce their carbon footprint, the team abides by a motto when using such materials: “as much as technically necessary, but as little as possible”. They use a global average of 40% recycled steel, and opt to use regranulated plastic whenever technically possible. They also carried out a pilot test in 2021 with CO2-reduced steel for a selected hinge component, dubbed as “green steel”. Another motto which they abide by is: “Recyclable by type, as easily as possible.” For example, the company would dismantle a drawer by its components — the drawer front, the runner system, the design — without tools, and they would recycle these components.

“In the long term, we would like to develop and manufacture not only CO2-reduced, but even CO2-neutral products together with our customers and partners,” said Bertl.

When it comes to chemical compliance, Hettich also regulates their environmentally relevant product ingredients “more strictly” than international legal requirements demand of them. Their products comply with the requirements set forth in EU directives for the chemicals industry, such as Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) and Packaging. From there, they ensure their products do not contain harmful substances that can affect users’ health badly, such as lead, cadmium, or mercury.

“Whether small or large rooms, Hettich’s fitting solutions will let you create and utilise every last inch of storage space… The result is a new style of home living: space conscious, structured, uncluttered.” – Matthias Bertl, Managing Director, Hettich SEA

Partnerships in SE Asia

Hettich has had wide distribution channels in South East Asia for the past 20 years, supplying fittings for residential projects, cabinet makers and furniture manufacturers, with partners and showrooms in 10 different countries. In early 2021, they appointed Dastor, an Indonesian hardware fitting distributor, as their partner for distributing Hettich products in Indonesia. The partnership will follow with the opening of five showrooms in Jakarta, Surabaya, Semarang, Bandung and Bali, aimed at strengthening the presence of Hettich in Indonesia to achieve their ideal closeness with customers.

As a partner for the wood furniture industry in South East Asia, Hettich also has plans for their clients and for themselves. Bertl concluded: “We are optimising a product mix for all demands of the industry, starting from dowel and screw to all types of hinges, concealed and invisible runner, drawer system, folding and sliding system. We are also optimising our supply chain, delivering to our partners through close collaboration. Lastly, we are offering intelligent assembly aids and drilling jigs, as well as practical work aids, such as automatic drilling and insertion machines, for every stage in the furniture making process.”

Current trends for furniture fittings

Hettich monitors every market segment to identify design trends that may go on to become trailblazers in the furniture fittings industry. This diligence won them the Interzum Award for High Product Quality and Good Design Award in 2021 for their latest drawer system, AvanTech YOU. It has various design options and creative flexibility, is easy to install with concealed working parts and ideal performance, and comes with flat packing and easy logistics.

Bertl shares some the current trends surrounding furniture fittings:

Wide and sleek: Wide drawers and cabinet doors have been the defining style element in interior furnishing for many years, and they are still on trend. What characterises them: spacious, prestigious and purist, because fewer reveals divide up cabinet fronts.

Narrow reveal: Large surface furniture fronts in exclusive materials look classy when they are broken up only by filigree, narrow reveals. The technical demands are high: only sufficiently strong and adjustable fittings ensure uniform alignment.

Handleless: Handleless furniture fronts are popular, and can be produced with Hettich for a look of excellence in the living room, in the kitchen, everywhere; for large surface sliding doors, for hinged doors, for drawers.

Thin and thick fronts: There are no limits to the thickness of material you use. Hettich makes sure of this with special fittings for thick and thin front materials.

Images: Hettich