From a design perspective, there has never been so much choice available to specifiers. Ongoing research and development in the Sintered Stone Surface market has meant there is now something to suit any taste and application.
From realistic colour palettes and sensitive detailing to silky smooth finishes and subtle texturing, the industry is constantly looking at ways in which to pioneer new colour and refine existing product portfolios.
A combination of the latest technology and attention to detail, coupled with a healthy dose of imagination, is helping to drive innovation within the surfacing industry.
This has ensured the look and feel of the real deal, but with the added benefits that man-made stone offers: higher durability, more hygienic and non-porous.
2017 has seen exciting developments for Sintered Stone which are influencing manufacturers and their new introductions for 2018.
Pure & simple
New technology has been driving the development of new applications for exterior and façade surfacing requirements. A major catalyst for this, in Europe at least, is the EU’s 2020 commitment to improving the environment. However, further afield more and more nations are starting to look at how cities and urban areas can contribute to addressing the major health issues faced by pollution.
As such, we are seeing more collaborations being fostered between surfacing manufacturers and clean tech companies. Neolith recently launched a partnership with NASA off-shoot PURETi, in order to offer architects and specifiers an anti-pollution surface. PURETi effectively cleans the air through a ground-breaking photocatalytic treatment, offering a green alternative for projects with a sustainability brief. There’s no doubt we’ll be seeing more similar developments as urban areas grow and sustainable/environmental requirements gain more traction within the construction industry.
Thicker, deeper, fuller
Where we saw the 2016-2017 market turning towards thinner, slighter surfaces, we are now noticing a definitive sea change. A growing number of requests for thicker slabs over the past six months has indicated that there is an increasing preference for broader surfaces which convey a reassuring sense of robustness when used as a kitchen worktop. Available in all manner of realistic colours and finishes, these durable surfaces add a distinctive focal point when incorporated into kitchen design as an island or dining table-top and the bathroom as an attractive vanity.
The last year has seen huge leaps in what can be achieved with Sintered Stone Surfaces. A recent project Neolith undertook for renowned chef Albert Adria’s Barcelona restaurant, ENIGMA, demonstrated the huge design potential on the horizon for both commercial and residential markets. The bespoke patterning commissioned for ENIGMA was made possible through emergent technology in the manufacturing process. It offers a glimpse into the increasing amount of choice which will soon be available for all kinds of surfacing application from flooring through to worktops, even facades!
The industry is continually improving processes, and as much as Neolith is developing new colours and finishes, the company is also committed to refining existing ones. Our expectation is that, in conjunction to ambitious and other worldly patterns, we will also see an increasing amount of enhanced finishes, building on the impressive array of natural stone-inspired surfaces currently on the market.
Hyper-realism is a feature which more and more designers are looking for, especially the ability in capturing the authenticity of natural stone. They are looking for something realistic, it quite literally tricks the eye.
Perfecting Sandstone-style effects will be at the heart of this move, as more clients look to incorporate the richly-textured, yellowish stone within their homes. Fiendishly intricate, the subtle effects will provide plenty of challenges to manufacturers, looking to capture the spontaneity of the real thing.
Turning up the contrast
A greater appetite for natural looking stone and a wider variety available than ever before has encouraged residential designers to be much more adventurous with their use of colour. In particular, we have seen contrasts of lighter and darker stone, used judiciously in the kitchen and bathroom space, to create a stylish design statement. We have also noticed opposing textures being used in conjunction to each other with rough sandstone and wood-effect surfaces off-setting polished marbles or smooth cement.
Back to the future
Nostalgia is nothing new, but across the industry we’ve noticed a revival in appreciation for design classics. Terrazzo immediately springs to mind.
Throughout 2017 we noticed an increase in demand from both architects and specifiers for Terrazzo, alongside other vintage stone designs. This playful and colourful stone once so popular, from bank floors to DIY applications, is finding a new lease of life as a chic surface in the home and further afield. Characterised by bold patterning and cosmopolitan sophistication, Terrazzo has resurged in popularity largely thanks to its eco-friendly and low-maintenance qualities.
Following the popularity of dark marble surfaces throughout 2017, manufacturers are looking to other dusky stones to inspire their new introductions for the coming year. The depth and contrast offered by igneous rocks such as basalt, obsidian and soapstone, has inspired manufacturers to be adventurous. We expect to see plenty of surfaces which encapsulate beautiful detailing of these ancient stones, including beautiful, complex swirling, deep grains and organic, continuous patterns true to the look and feel of the real thing.
Submitted by: Mar Esteve Cortes, Neolith® by TheSize