You may have noticed something about modern cupboards, dressers, sideboards and various other closed storage units around your home. Where did all the hinges go?
Take a typical kitchen, bathroom or bedroom cabinet these days, look at it from the outside in the closed position, and there is often no sign of a hinge at all. Doors sit flush to the panel or face frame, with no space between for the traditional fold-type hinges of old. The hinge mechanisms are completely hidden away inside the unit.
Concealed hinges have become hugely popular with cabinet makers for several reasons. One is the aesthetic advantages of hiding the hinge away. The option to have the door sit fully flush over the front of the unit (full overlay) or set back flush inside the cabinet body (inset) makes for a tidier, neater finish that appeals to customers.
Other benefits include the fact that concealed hinges are widely considered to be easier to install than more traditional hinge types, with the ability to make positional adjustments once installed allowing for pinpoint alignment without painstaking trial and error. And concealed hinges also have a reputation for being strong and durable.
While these core benefits undoubtedly make concealed hinges very attractive, at Sugatsune we don’t believe the concept has yet reached its full potential. So we’ve been on a mission to push the envelope on concealed hinge design, finding ways to add more functionality, better performance and also to open up the concept to more use cases.
For example, standard concealed hinges tend to only be suitable for relatively lightweight doors, restricting their use mainly to small to medium sized cabinets of the type typically found in kitchens and bathrooms. So our thinking was, how can we extend the advantages of concealed hinges to larger units, such as full-length cupboards, walk-in wardrobes, enclosed pantries, or to heavier doors made of higher density materials or holding a mirror?
The result was the J95, a heavy duty concealed hinge which, when deployed in threes, is capable of holding doors up to 40kg in weight. We then followed this up with the J160 range, equally capable of holding the heaviest of cabinet doors, but opening to a much wider angle so the door can be tucked away practically flat against the adjacent wall space. We have found this is particularly popular for use on ‘hidden’ doors, whether to kitchen pantries or walk-in closets, or anywhere where a cabinet is integrated into a larger surface instead of being fitted as a standalone unit.
The J160 also comes with an integrated soft close mechanism, a premium feature which delivers a smooth, controlled shutting motion, mitigating the risk of heavy doors being slammed or fingers being trapped. The idea of incorporating a damper mechanism in with a hinge was something we pioneered with another range developed with a view to redefining the limits of concealed hinge technology – the Olympia.
Convenience, quality and control
The Olympia is the result of 80 years of expertise in component design and precision engineering applied to the humble cabinet hinge. It marks an evolution in the concealed hinge concept – a 30mm cup hinge built with Sugatsune’s patented Lapcon technology; a five-speed adjustable soft close damper.
Olympia’s dampening system is a unique five-speed rotary controlled close mechanism which we use across a range of door dampers. Most soft close dampers only have two settings, on or off, which doesn’t give much scope for adjusting the damper effect for doors of different sizes and weights. With five levels of adjustment, the Olympia damper affords a premium level of control, allowing cabinet makers and fitters to achieve a uniform soft close across several different doors in a kitchen or bathroom suite and so on.
The Olympia marks an evolution from our previous concealed cup hinge design, the 230. By incorporating the damper into the hinge mechanism, we created brand new functionality for a hinge, meaning there was now no need for cabinet makers to install both a damper and a hinge if they wanted soft, controlled close.
The Olympia provides an unobtrusive profile with a sleek looking design. We simplified installation by incorporating our innovative Turn Lock mounting system, meaning Olympia hinge units can be clipped to their mounting plate simply by pushing them into position from the top down. And once in place, vertical, horizontal and depth adjustments can be made via three screws on the top of the unit – meaning you can fine tune the final position of the door one-handed. We also offer the Olympia hinges for use with thicker doors up to 30mm
We are far from finished with innovating with the Olympia lid stay. Having come up with a solution that combined a hinge mechanism and soft close damper in one for doors that open in a horizontal plane, we turned our attention to delivering the same convenience and control for box lids, trunks, chests and overhead cabinet flaps. The result is the AILERON, a three-in-one concept that combines a hinge, soft close and a stay for holding a lid in its open position. The AILERON offers a stay that needs no side mounting so need to add partitions to fit multiple stays for a heavier lid or door. With the AILERON available in two different orientations you can combine chest opening and overhead cabinet opening with the same form of stay to give a stylish uniform look with great functionality.
There is more to come in 2020. This year will see us launch safety caps for the entire Olympia range, providing extra reassurance against any little fingers that might go exploring the hinge mechanism when a cupboard is open, and we are also looking to unveil a new slimline mounting plate in the summer. On top of that, we are currently developing all Olympia products in black, to provide the option of a different look to the current polished chrome.