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Shaping Spaces | The Australian Story of a Steel Windows Brand

Steel Windows Australia Double Hinged Doors with Lockbox
Roll & Hill Modo Chandelier

Malvern House designed by Beatrix Rowe | Photography by Shannon McGrath

Malvern House designed by Beatrix Rowe | Photography by Shannon McGrath

HKliving Brown Chrome Glass Vase

Established with a commitment to bespoke craftsmanship and customer service, female-led Steel Windows Australia is at the forefront of design.

Identifying a void in the Australian construction market, founder and owner Charlotte Atkinson conceived Steel Windows Australia as a company where outstanding customer service and custom-crafted windows and door frames inform the cornerstone of her growing business. “Current steel fabricators were not attentive to customer needs, often delivering substandard service and failing to meet commitments,” says Charlotte.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Charlotte to delve deeper into the inspiration behind establishing her brand, her perspective on female leadership, and how Steel Windows Australia distinguishes itself through its collaborative projects alongside leading Australian designers and architects. 

In partnership with Steel Windows Australia.

Malvern House designed by Beatrix Rowe | Photography by Shannon McGrath

Malvern House designed by Beatrix Rowe | Photography by Shannon McGrath

Take us back to the beginning – what was the starting point for Steel Windows Australia and what inspired the business?

Charlotte Atkinson: After completing my initial tertiary education in engineering, I embarked on a career in computer technology before taking a pause to focus on raising a family. During this break, I indulged my passion for gardening and pursued further education at Burnley Horticultural College, where I delved into the intricacies of horticulture, and earned my degree. This educational journey ignited my interest in landscape design, prompting me to establish my own landscape design and construction company, which quickly flourished.

However, as I immersed myself in entrepreneurship, I realised that my strengths lay more in business management than in garden design. Seeking a new challenge, I explored various opportunities and stumbled upon the niche market of steel windows, encouraged by a recommendation from a close friend involved in high-end construction.

Recognising a gap in the Australian market, I saw that existing steel fabricators lacked attentiveness to customer needs, often providing subpar service and failing to uphold commitments. Determined to make a difference, I envisioned Steel Windows Australia to be a company where exceptional customer service would be paramount. While maintaining a commitment to top-tier product quality, I aimed to prioritise customer satisfaction, drawing from my own experiences as a consumer. 

What is your role in the company Charlotte and what does it mean to be a female leader within the industry?

Charlotte Atkinson: As the founder and owner of Steel Windows Australia, I hold the position of Managing Director and am deeply involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. My responsibilities span across various senior administrative and financial tasks, ensuring the smooth functioning of the business. However, my most cherished role within the company is as a senior member of the sales team. 

I devote a significant portion of my time each week to engaging with architects, designers, and homeowners, discussing their needs and collaborating on projects. This direct interaction allows me to understand our clients’ requirements firsthand and ensures that we provide tailored solutions that exceed their expectations.

Working within a male-dominant industry, dealing with homeowners can be an advantage, particularly given that many prime movers in home design decisions are also women. As a female Managing Director leading a predominantly female administrative team, we often find that homeowners appreciate the perspective and approachability that we all bring to the table.

In my interactions with architects and designers, my primary focus is on education and assistance. Building strong relationships with these professionals has been pivotal, regardless of gender. Gender doesn’t seem to play a significant role in this aspect of my work; it’s more about mutual respect and collaboration.

However, when it comes to engaging with male builders,  there’s often a need to assert dominance. As a woman in these negotiations, I approach construction discussions without ego, which can lead to smoother interaction and quicker resolutions. 

“I devote a significant portion of my time each week to engaging with architects, designers, and homeowners, discussing their needs and collaborating on projects. This direct interaction allows me to understand our clients' requirements firsthand"

– Charlotte Atikinson

Steel Windows Australia Awning Sash Window with Winder
Apparatus Trapeze 10
DePadova Rea
Foscarini Fork Dimmer Floor Lamp
Steel Windows Australia Double Heavy Duty Hinged Doors
GUBI Grashoppa Task Light
Tongue & Groove Hekke

What makes steel-framed windows an attractive option in residential design and architecture?

Charlotte Atkinson: First and foremost, steel frames are renowned for their aesthetic appeal. Their narrow and elegant sections not only enhance the beauty of any space but also offer exceptional strength, allowing for the incorporation of large glass panels.

Their allure goes beyond appearances; they bring a unique design aesthetic to any builder or renovation project. Clients who truly appreciate the elegance of steel frames are often willing to make various compromises to include them in their designs.

Closing a steel door evokes a sense of luxury akin to shutting the door of a high-end European car. The association with classical elegance and unparalleled quality is undeniable. Moreover, steel frames seamlessly complement a variety of interior styles. Whether paired with classical and antique furnishings or sleek modern pieces, they effortlessly enhance the ambiance of any space.

Our portfolio boasts numerous projects that seamlessly blend heritage charm with modern sophistication. From classical double-hung timber sash windows adorning the front of a heritage home to contemporary steel frames with expansive glass panels in modern extensions, the versatility of steel frames is limitless.

In urban environments where security is paramount, steel frames with toughened glass offer a refined solution. They provide a secure front façade for both residential homes and retail businesses without the need for cumbersome security screens or bars, ensuring both safety and style.

Can you speak about how your team works alongside designers and architects and what this collaboration/experience looks like?

Charlotte Atkinson: Typically, I take the lead in engaging with architects and designers, a role I thoroughly enjoy. These discussions, where we delve into their design concepts and explore how we can collaborate to achieve remarkable outcomes, are truly the highlight of my day.

Given that each frame we produce is custom-made and we have the flexibility to innovate beyond traditional sections, we often find creative solutions to fit various design visions. It’s not uncommon for designers to bring their clients to our office and factory for a more detailed conversation and firsthand experience of our fabrication process. Architects, known for their practicality, are often fascinated by the manufacturing process and appreciate the opportunity to witness it firsthand.

Our meeting table is situated within the heart of our bustling office and becomes the focal point for collaborative discussions when architects, designers, and their clients visit. These interactions foster a sense of inclusivity, with our project coordinator, drafter, estimator, and factory manager joining in, ensuring that every aspect of the project is thoroughly addressed and considered.

What recent movements have you observed with the architecture and design community regarding steel-framed windows and doors?

Charlotte Atkinson: Steel windows and doors were once reserved for high-end builds, often overlooked by homeowners on tighter budgets. However, with their prominence on online design platforms and other avenues, awareness and demand for these products have soared.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for us to receive requests for single doors, whether for a hallway or the front entrance, as part of our regular workload. Architects and designers are also pushing the boundaries, opting for taller frames and wider doors. 

We’re also seeing a movement towards tall and wide pivoting doors, particularly for grand entrances, and soaring elevations of windows and sliding doors well exceeding three metres have become a staple in our schedule. This shift reflects a broader architectural inclination towards maximising natural light and creating seamless indoor-outdoor transitions.

Charlotte Atkinson | Managing Director | Steel Windows Australia

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