The next style trend relates to man-made materials that are considered to be as beautiful – and in some cases more beautiful – than products from nature.
In both my color research and in my visits with tile manufacturers, I was astounded at the dramatic visual impact occurring because of digitalized computing.
Consumers of all ages continue to appreciate the tactile sense of natural products, the natural variations of composition and form. However, the definition of “authentic” seems to be changing. DuPont Surfaces publishes a color forecast each year, partnering with respected domestic and international experts. One of its key findings for 2011 and beyond redefines the concept of what an “authentic” product is:
“While our appreciation of genuine craftsmanship continues, new, smarter, efficient and adaptable materials or applications stretch this aesthetic. Authentic is no longer always old. As long as it has pedigree without pretense, then it is real. The new definition of authentic is ‘genuine’ not ‘natural’.”
Therefore, authentic is no longer a concept reserved for traditional designs or natural materials. An authentic product can be an exceptional man-made product.
Let me give you a very practical application example: Our senior and Baby Boomer clients see the beauty in natural stone over man-made products. We have carefully worked with our stone fabricators and suppliers to learn how to specify, install and protectively seal natural stone materials such as marble, limestone, travertine and granite.
Yet, in the surfacing industry, the ability to use industrial inkjet printing technology partnered with computer-generated pattern variations is creating surfaces that look and feel like natural products, but are easier to care for, more consistent and simpler to install. Such innovations have made durable porcelain ceramic look and feel like stone.
New laminates and better substrates make this durable material a surfacing contender for upscale kitchens and bathrooms. Are you working with your cabinet manufacturers in considering specifications of absolutely beautiful wood grain laminate cabinetry, as opposed to natural veneers?
For some of you, this will seem like blasphemy. As a design professional, you might feel that only natural products can shine; anything man-made is simply a cheap imitation. Be ready to change that mindset as you deal with younger consumers who have never worked on a wooden Blackberry or a marble computer keyboard.
The third style trend is that design elements are getting bigger and bolder, with a grand tilt towards glitter and glamour.
Throughout the tile exhibit, in all of the new wallpaper books I look through, just about everywhere – larger patterns, more color and more texture are being introduced. Additionally, the glitter of metallic accents or the iridescence of a Mother of Pearl finish is found in many surfaces created for hard-working kitchens as well as spa-like bathrooms.
To impress your future clients, look beyond your current – comfortable – specifications for ceramics and, in fact, for all surfacing you specify.
While terra cotta tiles are the cornerstone of rusticated country environments, and we are all quite experienced at using tiny 1"x1" glass details along a backsplash and 4"x4" shiny squares to provide sanitary surfaces, here are a few new ideas:
Much larger shapes are being introduced: 18"x18", 24"x24", 8"x13" and 18"x36" are just some of the sizes that can provide a dramatic wall surface for you.
Texture in the tile surface provides abrasion but – more importantly – beauty with great depth as the surface reflects natural or artificial light. In other categories, I have seen huge, naturalistic, yet highly stylized floral patterns in wall coverings, carpets and wallpapers – not for the faint of heart!
Metallics are everywhere. DuPont just introduced a line of metallic-infused Corian surfaces at 2010 KBIS. Throughout the Spanish tile show, there were numerous presentations of elegant metallic trim pieces, accent pieces – even jewel-type crystals embedded in the tile surface itself. The shimmer of copper, the gleam of gold, the sparkle of glass is contemporary and fresh. The use of such naturalistic micas from the Earth will be a key design element in 2011+.