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Monthly Musing 5 | Toughook

This monthly musing focuses on renovations we’ve made to the front of our home; a breezy midcentury beach bungalow. We also took the opportunity to interview Managing Director of UK company Toughook; Tony Hopkinson whose product we chose to get our paraphernalia in order!

Toughooks are a contemporary solution to the less-than-glamorous subject of storage. Typically hooks are made from aluminium or steel and can seem harsh (or frankly just plain dull) jutting out in an entrance. At the heart of our renovation is an attempt to create a space which is bright, welcoming, safe and durable. This space has to be one of the most multifunctional of the home; something to set the tone, welcome guests, home family hats, coats, scarfs, shoes, umbrellas, bucket & spades and all those necessary items.  Making this work effortlessly requires, in short, military precision! Given these demands we thought it would be fascinating to see the decisions behind the contemporary solution to this age old product we all remember from our school days as dull, broken or bent. But first, here’s a little background on the preparation we made to the space.

The biggest change we made to the entrance was to remove the clumsy double door system and replace it with one solid composite door from Todd Doors thus removing the perpetual door opening battle! Thermally efficient with drafters it’ll mean we’re actually warmer despite losing a door.

Door before/after

We used offcuts from Silva Timber cedar battens which we’d used for garden fencing to create a bespoke tongue and groove surround which was stuffed with eco-insulation to make it thermally efficient (found in a skip from my sister’s German pre-fab build) and treated with Osmo.

Door closeup

Internally, we finished off with ply for simplicity and modernity. Using a strong bond meant no fixings and simple white paint on the patchy red brickworks added a sense of texture and brightness to the scheme which bounces light around an area starved from natural light (a skylight is to be added at a later date). As you step inside original 1970s red tiles have been unearthed and as a nod to the original form we’ve retained the patterned glass side panel of the internal door.

Doorway

This fresh contemporary backdrop allows us to make a feature of the brightly coloured hooks and storage solutions we’ve selected to encourage tidiness for our young family. In order to set a beach tone we mounted them on chunky weathered scaffolding planks.

Toughooks

The hooks higher up have a wider spacing to allow for larger adult items. They run in graphite neutral tones whilst underneath the brighter zingy coloured hooks are spaced closer together for smaller items and children’s clothing.

colour toughs

So Tony, we love this product for its funky colour range and safety. How did you decide on key features such as material, form and colour? 

Traditionally hooks are made from metal which can bend and break from heavy use. By changing the material and using a processed nylon we provide an immensely strong but flexible product meaning you can scrap the maintenance budget and wastage in your home or workplace. Strength is increased by thickness and the hooks are in fact so strong, you could, if you wanted, build a climbing wall out of them (Tony, don’t give us ideas!). If you pulled hard enough you’d pull the screws fixing them to the wall out instead of breaking the hooks and because of this the product comes with a lifetime guarantee!

The form was instructed by the products key attributes; practicality, safety and strength. The lower hook is traditional in shape but the upper hook has smooth upward curve which stops the jutting outward curve you normally see meaning these hooks don’t protrude to cause injury. Our colour range was informed by the pigment suppliers, who provided brilliant base colours to cover the primary shades, and after a testing period 15 bespoke colours were developed. The range is so extensive to help customers brighten up typically mundane areas like the cloakroom or colour match to their scheme. Dependent on the use it could be a sports club matching up with team colours or rainbow packs for nurseries. A Toughook at 84p actually costs the same (or less) than the cheap aluminium hooks and is less expensive than steel hooks which would need expensive powder coat painting to get the same zingy colours.

Toughook circle

What’s the hardest aspect of bring a product to market in the UK? 

Exposure! You’ve got the product but getting people to find our new website is the challenge! We sent out samples to target markets and from the success of selling to trade clients for five years we’re now getting noticed on the wider public market.

Online marketing via direct adverising, SEO work and social media all play their part but essentially word of mouth and products been seen in situ pays an enormous hand in getting us where we’re going. We receive orders from around the world on a weekly basis, and have sold hooks to every continent in varying amounts.

And lastly, what does eco and modern mean to you?

To me, the two terms go hand in hand. It isn’t possible to be modern without considering whether you’re eco.  Being seen to be wasteful and the negative image that portrays to the public is something I wouldn’t want on my shoulders.

Following these principles also drives efficiency. Saving materials and energy is as good as selling more product, and margins are strengthened simply by producing less waste or using less energy. I’m not saying anything new here, but I feel strongly it’s how I should run my business. I’m just glad that I’m at the helm of something (in the Toughook) that I can honestly promote as ecomodern.

Toughooks as a product itself can well be considered eco friendly as virtually no waste product is produced in the manufacturing process and what is in recycled in house into other products where we add black pigment to hide all rainbow of colours! By using incredibly efficient injection moulding machines and up-to-date plant machinery we make power savings in the region of 30%. Clients no longer have to replace broken metal hooks so it’ll also have a longer term effect in reducing waste in the future too. It all plays its part.

Tony Portrait

You can buy Toughooks individually, in Neutrals Pack (black, graphite, mid-light grey) or Rainbow Pack (speaks for itself!) here. However, if you’re feeling lucky, you can win the entire range featured in our blog by following @ecomodernstudio and @toughook. Tweet why you’d like them with the hashtag #toughook. A winner will be chosen at random at 6pm on Friday 18th July 2014. Good Luck!

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