Everyone talks a good green game these days. Of course talking green and shelling out the green to get those eco-friendly benefits are two different things, and one doesn’t always lead to the other. However, while the green trend may not have fully permeated the kitchen and bath industry yet in terms of spending patterns, in the world of countertops, sustainable design seems to be the hottest trend around. That’s according to manufacturers recently interviewed by Kitchen & Bath Design News, who maintain that the future of the countertop industry will be defined by durable, sustainable countertops with plenty of design appeal.
Indeed, sustainable countertops, new colors and patterns, countertops featuring a sense of depth and products designed with long-term cost savings in mind are clearly in vogue today, manufacturers agree.
“The future of our business is in creating quality products that are sustainable and have high performance, while not sacrificing design,” states Lorenzo Marquez, director of marketing for Cosentino North America, in Stafford, TX.
“Eco-friendly countertops are the way forward for the surfacing material industry,” he notes, citing the firm’s ECO by Cosentino line, which is composed of 75% post-industrial and post-consumer recycled raw material. “By utilizing recycled materials, we are ‘upcycling’ products that have reached the end of their lifecycle – meaning that they cannot be incorporated into any other industrial product and would otherwise collect in landfill sites,” he explains.
Marquez, like many of his contemporaries, believes it is more important than ever for manufacturers to produce a product that helps preserve the environment.
Maureen McGeehan, marketing manager for DuPont Surfaces in Wilmington, DE agrees, but believes that manufacturing countertops that combine sustainability and functionality is the way to go. “Each of these qualities on its own isn’t going to cut it in 2010 and beyond,” says McGeehan. “Consumers are looking to do good and feel good about their countertop choice.”
Ferron Dunham, marketing manager for LG Surfaces in Peoria, AZ, concurs, stating, “Surfaces that give back to nature and are on target with the color trends will be the best sellers.”
Taly Dunevich, director of marketing for the Van Nuys, CA-based CaesarStone, sees that trend toward a more contemporary look, with colors that are “consistent, rich and less ‘noisy’ than granite.” Dunevich also notices a movement toward surfaces that have some kind of pattern or texture.
While going green and adding new colors and patterns are popular, there also seems to be a more subtle change as consumers look for alternatives to granite.
“Now that granite is showing up in gas station bathrooms, I think that people are really looking for something new and different,” says Karen Righthand, director of marketing for Vetrazzo, in Richmond, CA. “We’ve seen this trend in countertops before. Historically, every 10 years or so, a new material kind of drives a wedge in and starts to open the door.”
That material may be quartz, according to Dale Mandell, North America sales director for Samsung Staron. “Quartz is beginning to rival granite in a big way,” he says. “Quartz surfaces use mined, natural quartz (one of the hardest minerals found in nature) that are blended with technologically advanced polymers. The result is a durable, stain-resistant, scratch-resistant surface.”
Most manufacturers believe that green is the number one trend in countertops right now. “There is a call to action across the industry for sustainable products,” says Allison Williams, marketing manager for Imperial Marble Corp., in Somonauk, IL. “Sustainable products do two things: reduce waste and reduce costs over time for consumers.”
But while eco-friendly products are in demand, this trend goes beyond just product, extending into the promotion of greener company value systems, which create stories that seem to be resonating with designers and consumers.