Another morning, this time at the Optima offices situated in the picturesque setting of the Marina Plaza, was spent dedicated to a review of Optima’s Revolution 100 with Elite Aero Pocket Sliding Doors. Muffins and coffee interspersed a surprisingly insightful and enlightening presentation on these innovative partitions. Joining us for this review were Haneeta Chawla, Senior Interior Designer at Roar, and Stuart Allen, Founder and Managing Director of AAID. And if you thought there was not much to say about partitioning systems… think again!
Here at LTD, we are committed to celebrating design in all its forms. That means appreciating the multiple, individual aspects that come together to make the spaces we love and admire. In a slight departure from our traditional product review, we decided to focus on an element of interior space most of us take for granted, i.e. the partitioning system.
For those not familiar, Optima is a leading manufacturer and supplier of glass partition systems in the Middle East. From single glazed and double glazed, to glass doors and customised partitioning, Optima has supplied premium quality glass partitions across the region, and their clients include multinationals like Adidas, Smart Dubai, GE Aviation, and Coca Cola.
So what is the Revolution 100?
The Revolution 100 is a dry jointed system with an outstanding acoustic rating, going head to head with blockwork partitions. It comes with its own range of specially designed doors to match the acoustic quality. The system easily converts from single to double glazing, allowing you to maintain the same aesthetic across the workspace.
As we sit in the Optima offices and listen Optima’s Construction Director, Lee Bazzoni, we learn about the company’s involvement with a team at the University of Salford,UK, that tests different air gaps in their partitioning system for optimum performance. The goal here is to experiment and integrate innovation themselves, and be the first to introduce it in the market. While this requires considerable investment, the ‘first in the market’ strategy has worked in Optima’s favour thus far, and given them a distinct competitive advantage.
The Review Crew
Above from left: Emily Perkins, Sales Manager at Optima Partitions, Lee Bazzoni, Construction Director at Optima Partitions, Haneeta Chawla, Senior Interior Designer at Roar and Stuart Allen, Founder and Managing Director of AAID
Revolution 100 is made from the same quality glass as all of Optima’s premium products (raw material imported from Saint-Gobain and processed locally in Ras Al Khaimah). Plus the local manufacturing element is a massive advantage for the brand when it comes to large regional projects. This double glazed system employs dry glaze gaskets that make it quick and easy to install, without compromising on quality or aesthetic. Also available among the number of glass to glass joints is Optima’s patented and virtually invisible Nebula™ joint. And mullions can be introduced for a framed appearance.
Hanneeta Chawla: I love how Optima maintains the same visual language within the product range. And the high quality of acoustics is a big plus. This particular railing and door does feel a bit heavy for me, but it makes up in the acoustic rating. Additionally, its availability in larger sizes is a relief for us designers.
Stuart Allen: The consistency of aesthetic and performance is definitely something I admire. I’d love to go larger with this product. And the fact that it’s produced locally is a selling point for me, given the push for sustainable sourcing in projects these days.
What differentiates Optima’s products from the other seemingly commoditised alternatives is the attention to detail and quality. With the Revolution 100, for example, we believe that the level of acoustic superiority, along with the integration of custom finishing elements is a clear differentiator.
Patrick Murray, Sales Manager, confidently tells us that this double glazed system can reach its maximum tested acoustic rating of 51 decibels, while the single glazed system can reach 40, using acoustic laminated glass. On a project or contract level, the Revolution 100 system’s USP lies in the fact that the entire system is tested to ensure high acoustic performance, and not just the individual parts. And when questioned on the acoustic rating, Patrick tells us that the engineering team is working on it and suspects that the quality might be even better than partitions with flat surfaces.
Above : Sales Manager Patrick Murray explains the sound measuring capabilities of Optima’s unique Acoustic Lab
What we found quite reassuring was the level of confidence that the team displayed in the acoustic ability of these panels. And this confidence comes with good reason. During our visit to the Optima offices, we got to experience their Acoustic Laboratory, a first in the region (see details in the video below), which can reproduce sound from 30 decibels all the way up to 52, allowing you to experience the actual sound quality in various acoustic scenarios. In this way clients can expect the same sound as they would in a real-world setting, and thus accurately choose the partition system most appropriate for their needs.
These systems are then installed by skill tested staff, and not just any contractor. Furthermore, designers and clients not familiar with specifying partitions, can rely on Optima to work with them and draw up technical specifications and drawings.
Haneeta was particularly impressed with the range of customisation options, which extend to the finishes as well. Emily Perkins, Sales Manager at Optima, recalls a client who requested a colour for the frame that would match the same rose gold as her water bottle. And guess what? They made sure they got the exact shade! In other words, the menu for customisation is fairly limitless, and therein lies the appeal for the designers. The Revolution 100 is available in a trimless version as well, which can be achieved by using a recess in the walls. It adds to the aesthetic flexibility of the product and the different scenarios where it can be used.
The Technology Within
The soft closing mechanism installed is the cherry on top. As the sliding door reaches nearer the frame, the mechanism kicks in and the door gently slides shut on its own. This can mean no more unintentional (or intentional, for that matter) door slamming, quite a neat and useful feature, and made possible through a Teflon sleeve that prevents metal hitting on metal. We inquired about the availability of an automatic closing system, ironically this was not a request they had received thus far. However, it could potentially become a feature they could develop.
Hanneeta Chawla: I love the clean and slim lines. The soft closing is a great finishing touch, and quite important if you consider the door has to be opened and closed frequently. The glass-to-glass joint and the Nebula™ joint is worth mentioning.
Stuart Allen: An element that I particularly like is that the entire set-up is tested, which is something I’ve not come across in a glass partition system elsewhere. I find that reassuring from a quality perspective.
The Revolution 100 is definitely one of Optima’s best products to date. While the price point is on the higher side, the designers do believe that its justified because of the quality offered. Optima has clearly thought through a variety of factors that make this product worthwhile, from manufacturing locally, and offering innovative doors, frames, and finishes, to the incredibly high level of acoustic performance of the entire system. It leaves no doubt as to why Optima is the first choice for most leading design firms and contractors in the region.
Haneeta Chawla: I definitely see it being used in a boardroom, given the premium quality. Also, the fact that you can possibly achieve the same high quality acoustic quality in curved glass is quite amazing!
Stuart Allen: It’s no doubt a beautiful product. Even if it’s just glass partitions, I believe it should be finished well, as it’s an important consideration for interior spaces. This product is definitely not for all budgets, and I see it working well in high end spaces.