The designer behind OMNIA, the window system that will ‘set the standard for windows over the next 10 years’, has revealed it was customer feedback that drove him to create the revolutionary new system.

Phil Gregory, Design and Development Manager for VEKA plc, began visualising the system that would later become OMNIA when a customer challenged the finished look of her new windows.

“This particular customer had purchased flush-fitting windows, but as we all know, existing systems in the UK are only flush on the outside,” Phil said. “She told me she didn’t buy the windows for her neighbours, but for herself – so why weren’t they flush inside? The conversation stuck with me and was the inspiration behind OMNIA – it was our starting point.”

What followed was a three-year-long period of research and development which would result in the UK’s first double-rebated, double-flush system, which offers a complete suite of design opportunities for casement windows, tilt and turn windows, residential and French doors using just nine different profiles. OMNIA also looks set to transform fabrication by offering the highest levels of technical performance, with a hidden co-extruded gasket system that is automatically mated with the extrusions during manufacture, meaning no more time-consuming fitting by hand.

Here, Phil talks through his backstory and that of OMNIA, the processes he and his team went through to create such game-changing technology and shares the response from the industry so far.

A natural designer

Phil began his career in a window and door fabrication business at the age of 16. He then spent 12 years working for several PVCu fabricators in a variety of roles before joining a large composite door manufacturer, initially working within production, then progressing into a technical role.

Joining VEKA in 2013, his first position was as a Technical Support Officer providing technical support to internal and external customers and partners. Between dealing with enquiries, he was responsible for authoring and maintaining VEKA plc technical manuals and documents. However, product design was calling, appealing to Phil’s natural appreciation for aesthetic and function. It wasn’t long before he started to become more involved in the development of VEKA products – earning a role as Design Engineer, and eventually progressing to Design & Development Manager.

“I’ve always been appreciative of good design – not only in function but form also,” he said. “One detail of PVCu windows that I always found puzzling is how many aspects don’t line through – particularly sight lines on glazing – so I’d often be found looking at the dimensions of systems to see if you could produce them in new ways to improve this.

“I’m also really interested in modular design capability; products that work together seamlessly in different ways to create new opportunities and outcomes, which is something that influenced me throughout the development of OMNIA.”

Belief in the concept

Following that influential customer interaction, Phil pulled together a small team of experts to come up with a new solution – one which would not only provide the industry with a double-flush system, but one which also eased the challenges of fabricators.

“We initially began looking at the next evolution of our systems in 2019, building a brief for what this solution could be,” he said. “In 2020, we began looking into trends and legislation to see what the future might hold for windows and doors, because we wanted to ensure longevity of the system – though changing standards are not easy to predict. In 2021 we presented our first concept for OMNIA to the board.

“One of the most important considerations was to produce a solution that could be integrated into any fabrication facility, including existing production methods and third-party products such as hardware. Once we had a concept we believed in, and which would achieve this, we began to involve more stakeholders to understand how OMNIA could benefit them. We sought their feedback and implemented it, to make sure the solution could work for as many people as possible.

“What we have created here is all you need, together in one place – for the first time in the industry, there is a full suite to make all the different window and door types. And they will all match in their appearance.”

Revolutionary design

The finished product from Phil and his team ticks the boxes of several other industry firsts.

As well as the automatically mated coextruded gasket system, OMNIA also supports various mechanical jointing techniques, including timber weld and VEKA’s patented, highly-cost effective ProJoin Gen 2 method. In practice, this means that recreating the look of a classic mortice and tenon joint is easy – ideal for when it comes to projects in conservation areas and the increasing demand for authentic detailing.

VEKA’s time tested profile details reduce bespoke tooling requirements – another big industry win – while for installers, the suite’s 70mm depth makes for an easy swap out of old units. Crucially, it offers full compliance with 2025 building regulations.

Harking back to his love of modular design, Phil said: “I have tried to incorporate as many common design facets in the range as possible, as well as thinking about what could be added in the future, to create a wealth of different combinations, styles and solutions that give homeowners everything they need but also make life simple for the fabricator and installer.

“There have been challenges throughout this project, just as there always is in product development, but involving industry experts and sharing ideas and concepts along the way has been a huge benefit. Working collaboratively at every step means we’ve produced a solution that can be rolled out smoothly without barriers or surprises.”

Quantum leap

Described by VEKA as a ‘trailblazing, quantum leap in fabrication’, OMNIA has received a thoroughly positive response since its launch to the industry in April – something Phil anticipated but is nonetheless thrilled to see.

“We believed we had a good idea when we presented OMNIA for the first time, but the enthusiasm and belief we’re seeing today is overwhelming,” he said. “It makes me so pleased to know we worked on problems until we found solutions, to meet the high expectations that we put on ourselves.

“This has been the most challenging design project I have ever been involved in, but as we move into the next stages of the journey and launch into the market I – like many others who have been involved along the way – am excited to see the products installed, starting a new chapter in the range of systems, solutions, and services VEKA offers.

“We’ve built more than five decades of market-leading experience and expertise into OMNIA, and it is the right design at the right time.”

Read the review of OMNIA here:

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