One of the key interior features of many hospitality establishments is a counter or bar. With this comes a counter flap, which allows people to move between the barrier easily. This, however, can be liable to close suddenly, posing a health-and-safety risk. Sugatsune has a solution ...

In many customer-facing establishments, the counter is an important part of the relationship between staff and those they serve. It acts both as an interface for transactions and also a barrier dividing the public space from the corporate.

There are, of course, times when that barrier needs to be crossed – it may be that the only access to the public space is through a counter flap, a sort of door on its side. Doors are wonderfully simple and mature pieces of technology – they open and close without effort and are safe and intuitive.

But if you turn the door on its side to make a counter flap, it loses all of its equilibrium and fights gravity in an unequal fashion. The flap wants to be closed and gravity helps it in this objective. No one wants their fingers to be in the way of a counter flap slamming down.

Any fitter will know that at the very least a catch will be required to keep the flap open where it is situated near a wall, which will prevent accidental closure. Even comparatively light flaps can be awkward to lift so that there is also a danger of harm even in normal use.

Using some kind of damper to tame the descent of the flap is advisable, and each fitter will have their preference for gas strut or hydraulic damper. The other consideration is lift-assist to make the flap usable by members of staff who don’t have power lifting as one of their hobbies. The combination of the two can become expensive and ugly, and yet may be unavoidable.

The Sugatsune solution is the LAD counter flap damper. It consists of a two-part mechanism, each part installed respectively on flap and counter. The mechanism only engages when the flap is near to closing whilst leaving it to swing free when in the upright position. This format means that it is easy to fit on flaps that open 180º to lie flat on top of the counter, and also to accommodate different resting angles when fitted against a wall.

Full lift assist for the first 40º makes opening the flap effortless then free to move as it approaches the upright position, making it feel very natural in use. If the flap is dropped or closed, the powerful damping engages and it closes silently and gently – leaving all fingers intact.

The compact unit is clean and purposeful and visually unobtrusive, completely out of sight when the flap is closed. Fitting is easy too – it comes in three levels of torque from 81-160kgf/cm, making it usable with most counter flaps. It is surface mounted with the use of the supplied templates, and as it needs no routing it makes a good choice for retrofitting on delicate or vintage counter tops.