Disclaimer: The following information is meant to provide and introduction to emerging colors, fi nishes, and designs. It is a summary of information collected from many different sources that serve the interior design community in general. The next section of the Surface Design Guide will explore in more detail how surface design relates to different areas of the market.
From the intriguing world of fashion, surface design professionals divine what colors, textures and patterns the future holds. It is a relative art. “Trend colors are developed in conjunction with other materials used in interior design, including fabrics, carpet, etc. Most are inspired through fashion and honed through Color Marketing and other trend watching organizations,” says Lana Cella, Product Manager for American Renolit. Although fashion shifts according to region and market segment, there are some design themes that transcend those differences.
While a pervasive warmth drawn from familiar sources is driving fashion, technology enables new interpretations of what people already know and love. “Colors are moving toward chameleon neutrals and saturated strong colors, says Jane Brecht, Design Development manager for OMNOVA Solutions Inc. “Light and the use of light is becoming a more important design feature. In surfaces it is simulated with lustrous inks and coatings. That technology will continue to offer new visuals that may not have a color name.”
Fashion’s inclination toward mixing styles has led to surface designs that are simple and clean. According to Gwen Petter, Director of Surface Design for Wilsonart, “This is a modern movement. Tone on tone, ‘less is more interiors’ feature soft movement, subtle pattern and low contrast.” In addition to natural manuscripts and accents Petter says, “Simple color combinations dominate: classic black/ classic white/ classic black and white are still viable.”
Neutrals are becoming more colorful, and are often used in contrast with darker hues. Earthy colors that convey comfort, such as brown, gray, amber, beige and eggshell are important. When considering the neutrals, there is a connection to the things that make peoplefeel cozy. In one sense, long standing security reminiscent of weathered-wood, soil and worn heirlooms is encouraging. But comfort is also drawn from the little luxuries that provide dayto-day reassurance, things like mocha, coins and scotch. White is still a stand alone, and black is beginning to push forward in varying values. Both black and white are added to the bolder neutrals for temperature control. This also creates an organic “ashy” effect that softens the more colorful neutral palette.
The subtlety of well-mannered surface designs is balanced by pops of contrasting lively hues. This palette of brighter, crisper colors: orange, lilac, purple, turquoise, leafy green, soft yellow, clay and deep red, unapologetically relates to the same colors used in nature to draw attention. Conversely, these vibrant colors also represent the high-tech digital impetus of design, showing up in geometric, floral and abstract patterns. Color is even used to enhance organic designs beyond the possibilities of nature, demonstrating the capacity of laminate surface designs to go beyond standard.
Metal also plays an important role in the current colors of surface design. Stainless steel and pewter add a high-tech effect, while soft gold and bronze give old world warmth. Metallic-infl uenced colors neutralize design compositions, helping them to assimilate into larger project themes.
INNOVATIONS IN DESIGN
Global and cultural infl uences are translated through color and materials. The market, influenced heavily by the economy and environmental responsibility, has prompted a re-invention of classic wood designs, as well as a turn toward exotic species. Other natural looks, stone, marble and metal, are also being made over. Abstract and geometric patterns continue to pique the interest of futureoriented designers, and have absorbed some of fashion’s nature-oriented sensibility. Ethnic accents are creeping into focus. Meanwhile solid colors, both in flat matte finish and luminescent pearl, are used throughout projects to compliment patterned designs.
Wood designs continue to make up a large portion of laminate surfacing. In the realm of realism, rustic and distressed styling, including the “recycled look” is popular. According to Beverly Albert, Marketing Coordinator for Süddekor, “When times are tough there is a lot of focus on the home being a haven. Because of this, the weather-worn looks are comforting and deep, dark, rich woods create a warm, mellow atmosphere.“ Laminate surfaces, by nature of their construction, permit the look of rare species without threatening their existence. “There is an increase in exotics and domestic woods, which are more complex and elegant in very dark colors, with less contrast than previous years," says Albert. The exception to the tone on tone of wood designs is the development of linear grains, often accented with beige, which fit nicely into the trend of wood grains running horizontally. Striated wood designs (bamboo and walnut for example) are emerging in both subtle color combinations and starker contrasts. Re-mastered classic designs incorporate layers of iridescent inks to enhance light play and design fidelity. And laminated wood veneers, such as in Laminart’s new Veneer-Art line, offer architects the opportunity to use real wood in surface applications that require the performance of HPL.
New technologies and ideas are also taking wood to places it has never been before. Source materials for manuscripts are undergoing surface treatments, such as white washing and worn paint, to mimic the effect of genuine wear on boards, but with more “highend” appeal. Designers are also keeping the structure of wood, and re-coloring portions of the manuscript (and occasionally the entire design) with supernatural hues.
Organic cellular patterns, textiles and graphic designs are influencing abstract designs. Traditional floral and plant motifs have been re-invented to fit modern, optimistic design expectations. While some clients claim to be “all granited out” there is still a place for natural stone, particularly marbles based on current colors. According to Rick Murnane, product designer for Interprint USA, “Ceramic and glazed looks are gaining strength with stone. There is a need for the human touch.”
SURFACE AND LIGHT
According to Hans Mutzke, Design Director for Laminart, “The future of surfaces is about finishes, and how light bounces off the dimensionality.” Cella agrees, “Surfacing is not just about appearance, but also touch. The texture, gloss and feel of the surface can make a big difference in the perception of quality and design sense.” Surface design’s love affair with light is forged through many smaller relationships. Large and boutique companies alike are employing iridescent inks, textured papers, coating technology, press plates and inclusions to enhance the colors and patterns of surface design.
High gloss finish as a trend has been strong in Europe, and it is gaining ground in North America. At the same time, super-matte solids are being added as complimentary choices. Embossed overlays are continually being refined to increase design fidelity. Paula Lozano of Lamitech says, “Finishes, without a doubt, is one of the more important new trends – not only Gloss and Matte, but vertical and horizontal lines, stone looks and natural woodgrains.” Inclusion overlays, which are embedded with natural fibers or metal shavings, are another method of adding depth to laminate surfaces. Chemical embossing methods are also being employed to give decorative foils unprecedented 3-dimensional visual effects.
Surfaces have an obligation to work in concert with the other materials used in interior design. They must be versatile enough to be a focal point or a supporting element as the project requires. Though inspired by fashion, they must also perform, standing up to the demands of the application and the environmental expectations of the end users.
To learn more about the surface materials that carry these carefully conceived designs, be sure to take advantage of the CPA’s upcoming Continuing Education Credit dedicated to surface materials and their applications, running in Surface & Panel magazine's 2010 Buyer’s Guide. And check the new online resource www.surfaceandpanel.com for up-todate information that unites materials, technology and design.
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