Sunday, January 17, 2010

E2 Ethos Shelving System

The E2 Ethos Shelf System is on special at Bunnings Hardware. This is a very elegant system using cast aluminium channels attached to the wall, into which slot cast aluminium brackets. Apart from the screw holes to hold the channels to the wall there are no other holes or protrusions in the channels (unlike most modular shelving systems). Each cast aluminium bracket is held by a grub screw tightened with the included Allen key. The shelf brackets have a cast curved support framework. The whole effect is reminiscent of an art deco 1930s train carriage luggage rack.

After purchasing their 1100 mm four shelf pack, it quickly became apparent why these are on special. The system of attaching the shelves to the channels requires close tolerances in the manufacture to allow the brackets to slide up and down for adjustment, but be sufficiently tight so they can be locked in place. Unfortunately half the brackets did not fit in the channel as they were not correctly cast had excessive metal. This required a laborious process of filing down each bracket until it fitted. Also the screw holes for holding the channel to the wall are not sufficiently recessed (a design flaw) so if the screws are not precisely aligned they stop the brackets from sliding past.

After a few hours of filing and of unscrewing and re-screwing, the results look good in a 1930s inner Sydney art deco style kitchen. But it would have been a lot easier to use one of the much less elegant, but more forgiving, modern steel shelving systems.

The E2 Ethos web site seems to suffer similar problems to their shelving system: it looks elegant but is very difficult to use. The home page provides a menu bar and an animation of shelves moving up and down. The only other content on the page is the number "01908 216466". Placing the mouse over "Storage" in the menu displayed a list of items. I couldn't read the items as the text was overlapping. Clicking on the menu items produced no apparent result.

Normally with a poorly designed web page I select "View > Page Style > No Style" so I can see a version of the page without the faulty formatting. In this case that did not work. I could try displaying the source code of the page and try to work out what was going on, but this would be a laborious process, like fining bits off the shelf brackets. As it is the web page provided me with no useful information, apart from confirming the company made shelves which can be adjusted up and down.

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