Before the PIGS event on last Thursday evening, I was kindly invited to a press briefing where I was going to witness the launch of a new product and initiative from a company called AGB. The product was called Imago, and Italian design runs throughout it’s core. But first, an intro to AGB for those who don’t know who there are.
Who are AGB?
AGB are an Italian company established back in 1947 by a chap called Alban Giacomo Sr and his two sons Giorgio and Antonio. They began producing accessories for windows and doors. Since then they have grown strongly to become one of Europe’s leading window and door hardware and accessory companies, all still produced in Italy.
They are focused purely on design and quality. A subject which has been a good topic for discussion on here and on social media given the latest hardware problems from Far East based products. So it was nice to sit down and listen to a presentation which centred on the quality of the product they were offering and the design aspect too. Even their marketing was slick. I have three brochures from them in front of me which are of such a high standard and quality, they again shame the stuff our British counterparts are producing. Style, design and thought on every single page. They manage to make hinges, thresholds and handles look sexy. Something we’re failing at here.
It’s probably worth noting that AGB are up for a design award back in Italy alongside Ferrari and Ducati. See any British fenestration companies in similar design category awards over here?
Yet again this was another European country demonstrating to those in the room at the time how windows and doors should really be done. So, what exactly was Imago?
Imago – product and concept
First things first, this was the product being shown to us that afternoon:
At first glance it looks like an offset sliding patio door. An in essence, that’s the idea behind it. AGB have launched this product specifically for our sort of climate. They rightly pointed out that bi-folding doors, as convenient and easy to use as they are, come with two distinct problem. The first, is if you happen to live in an area with views to make the most of, a four-section bi-fold is going to cut that view up 3 times, whether it be in PVC, aluminium or timber. Secondly, and probably the most important, we have crap weather! How many times is it really possible for us to fully open our bi-folding doors? Our summers are merely extensions of Spring and Autumn at best. So why sacrifice a view for a product that we’re never going to properly use? They raised a good point.
So as you can see, the product is made purposely with a bigger, fixed section, and a slider which slides all the way across the front of the fixed section. But it’s the devil in the detail which really makes the Imago door something to admire. For example, it’s been designed to sit in a super-slim outer frame which when fitted, most of that frame will sit behind the plaster line, giving you as much glazed area on view as possible. The wider-than-normal super-low threshold is made from a special grippy fibreglass that is designed to be strong, flexible and of course, look good while doing it. Made from solid timber, the Imago door reaches a U-Value of just 0.69. The Imago door has been designed so that all the hardware apart from the door handle itself is visible. So all you see is frame and view.
I had a slide of this product, and it really did feel good to use. A premium feel in every aspect, a joy to work and even better to look at. When it comes to design and style, this is how doors should be done.
But as you can see from the above heading, the Imago door is a concept as well as a product, and this is where things might start to get a bit awkward. You see, AGB don’t actually make the Imago door. They sell you the hardware yes, but the actual profile to make the door, no. Imago really is Italian to the core, right down to how you are going to get it made.
The Italian way
As our demonstrators explained while we were there, a lot of Italian window and door companies installation companies carry out almost every aspect of the chain themselves. That means sourcing the timber themselves, carving it and producing it, then going and installing it as well. That’s not how we do things here, the chain is much longer. We have the systems companies at the top, who provide the profile for the fabricators who make windows and doors to the specifications provided by the installers, who then deliver it to the installer to then fit it into the homeowner’s property. When you look at it that way, we really do drag the process out a bit.
So instead, AGB will provide you, the installer, with the hardware and the technical drawings of how the actually make the Imago door from timber, aluminium and PVC. Although I’ll always maintain that after seeing the Imago in timber, it will always look best in timber. So once the installer has those drawings, the installer then has to go find a joiner to make it for them. Now this is something our current supply chain really isn’t cut out for at the moment. Installers having to find the materials and find someone to make it won’t appear to be an enticing prospect, not when they could just go to their fabricator and find all their products almost ready made for them. At the time I explained this to the AGB guys that were there, and I think they understood the differences to our market from there. I do believe they are working to find a way around this issue. And they’re going to have to, because I can’t see our industry’s thousands of installers going to make the effort to cut out the fabrication part of the chain to do it themselves.
Not for retro-fit
The other major detail worth noting is the huge outer frame it sits in. If I remember correctly, I was told that the outer frame depth was a staggering 168mm deep. Bare in mind that most UK residential housing is built to take a 70mm deep window profile. So unless you fancy chopping back a whole load of plaster to the point the inner brick wall is showing, this isn’t for a retro-fit market.
But then again, this isn’t a product aimed at that market. No, this is a premium, high-end product aimed and premium, high-end homes. The grand self-builds. The big home improvement projects. The weird and the wonderful. The homes that lie in the Highlands of Scotland, the Lake District and the Cotswolds. This isn’t going to look right at the back of a 3-bed semi.
This is another European product which has the roots of it’s country running throughout. When you think of anything Italian, you expect it to look good, and the Imago really does have Italy and it’s ethos running right the way through it. Very much in the same way MACO has Austrian security and build quality running through their products.
If you’re looking for a new product to set yourselves apart from your competition, then this is really worth looking at. I think if AGB can tweak how they plan to supply these products, they could be on to a winner because this really does tick every box if you’re an installer and wanting to go after the big, high-end contracts.
A big thanks to Balls2 for allowing me the chance to take a look at it close up on Thursday!
What do you think? Could this sort of luxury door product work in the UK? Have you already seen it and fitted it? As always all comments welcome in the section below.