Whether in a commercial or residential setting, countertop and backsplash materials have always been considered the icing on the cake in the completion or updating of a space. They bring interest, provide element of contrast, as well as define the design style. No matter what the budget number is, you can now find just the right surface that will make sense aesthetically and financially.
AS ORDINARY AS TILE
No longer just a background feature, new tile designs are nothing short of extra-ordinary. Designers’ attempt to bring more up to date and dramatic alternative to the formal ceramic tile look is just what the public wanted. A lot of tile manufacturers are now incorporating stunning graphics and unexpected textures in their collections. Ceracasa of Spain uses digital printing technology to create intriguing tile compositions. Another Spanish tile manufacturer, Grespania specializes in combining soft patterns with shimmery backdrops to create unique dimensional and decadent designs. European designers are also pushing the boundaries when it comes to tile shapes and sizes. Tile installations are becoming more dramatic, free-flowing and art-like, which is heaven for architects, interior and kitchen & bath designers.
When it comes to pushing the industry limits and offering cutting-edge designs, Spain definitely leads the crowd in that arena. No surprise that in addition to their ceramic products, Decorativa now offers a full line of stone. And not just the ordinary, but hand-carved by artisans limestone which mimics sand dunes (hence the name of the collection, Dunas) creating stunning commercial and residential wall applications.
AS TRENDY AS SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
With the environmental responsibility being on top of everyone’s agendas, manufacturers of recycled and/or reused content products are making an effort to combine both form and function into a viable solution. If reclaimed and reused materials is your focus, there are companies like Alkemi, known for their recycled surface material composed of post-industrial scrap waste like fine aluminum flakes. Available in many colors and finishes, this material is sustainable and functional at the same time. For a product that is made of 100-percent recycled glass and porcelain, Enviroglas has created an eco-friendly, durable and beautiful collection which can be used for countertop, floor and wall applications. Richlite, on the other hand, offers a premium paper-composite architectural surface materials, which only uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified wood in the making of their products. Richlite is not only a healthy and durable choice, but also a unique matte-finish countertop solution which brings warmth and minimalistic look, which cannot be achieved through stone or solid surface.
AS SIMPLE AS PAPER
High-pressure laminate manufacturers are constantly racing against one another to add a better product to their collections. As much as wood-looking laminates have always been the most specified products, new and more exciting patterns get released frequently. Formica, for example, just introduced a new 180fx collection of nine very realistic, 5-ft.-wide granite designs, which are expected to do very well on the market. Abet Laminati has been leading the industry in the laminate innovation area. There is nothing ordinary about their offerings. From textural Grainwood line for walls, surfaces and floors, full of sparkle and shine Kaleidos collection, to silk screen printed Serigrafia Longline collection of 16 designs and decorative metals with phenolic backer. For most impact on a limited budget, AB Distribution LLC came up with Neboard Collection, a self-adhering decorative surface line which makes the installation a breeze. With a metal, leather or wood look, this product can be used on columns, back splashes, reception desks and any other area which needs an affordable face-lift.
As an interior designer, it is my duty to educate myself on the new products available and stay on top of the trends. Living close to Chicago, I take full advantage of all the trade events that happen there. Coverings, The Ultimate Tile and Stone Experience is a wonderful four-day event which gathers stone and tile manufacturers from all over to world to display their new designs for the upcoming year. NeoCon is a contract furnishings show, which also showcases architectural products that relate to the commercial environment. Lastly, having access to the Merchandise Mart, the biggest resource of commercial and residential products combined, I feel confident that no matter what the project, budget or style, one can find the right product.
Edit. Note: Aga Artka is a Milwaukee, Wis.-based interior designer. For more information, visit www.agaartka.com.
For more information about the products listed in this article, please visit the sites of the following suppliers:
- AB Distribution LLC: www.abdistributionllc.com/Neboard.html
- Abet Laminati: www.abetlaminati.com
- Alkemi: www.alkemi.com
- Ceracasa: www.ceracasa.com/600000_en
- Decorativa: www.decorativa.es
- Enviroglas: www.enviroglasproducts.com
- European Tiles Direct: www.europeantilesdirect.co.uk/Wall-Tiles/Designer-Tiles
- Formica: formica180fx.com
- Grespania: www.grespania.com
- Richlite: www.richlite.com