Vitreous enamel steel, produced locally by Vitrex in Boksburg, has become synonymous with diverse architectural applications worldwide. Now the product has been specified for yet another innovative – and almost unexpected – application: as a new table top material for a global restaurant chain.
Durban-based interior designers, Egg Designs, discovered the unique durability and rugged nature of vitreous enamel steel and promptly decided that the product should be applied as bespoke table tops for two new outlets of the Nando’s international restaurant chain.
Nando’s, established in South Africa in 1987, now has more than 1 000 outlets in more than 30 countries.
Cristian Cottino, Sales & Marketing Director of Vitrex in Boksburg, says Egg Designs approached Vitrex to provide the vitreous enamel steel table tops for Nando’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and West Street, Durban, restaurants.
“The table tops feature blue enamel graphics on a white background. The graphics were digitally printed prior to the final firing of the table tops. Special graphics, such as those designed by Egg Designs for Nando’s tables, are no obstacle for our production line as Vitrex’s vitreous enamel steel surfaces can incorporate virtually any graphics including the work of artists, or special effects such as metallic or wood grain finishes,” he states.
Cottino says the 32mm deep tops are 1300mm in diameter and factory-fitted with a core to receive a set of crafted metal legs.
Egg Design has been contracted to design the interior of Nando’s restaurants in South Africa in line with the new design philosophy, including the design and manufacture of the various furniture elements. The two branches for which Vitrex supplied the table tops were the first to be completed in Nando’s national revamp.
Greg Dry, one of the founders of Egg Designs, says the Portuguese roots of Nando’s influenced his decision to opt for a ‘kombuis tafel’ concept for the new restaurant tables.
“We did some research and found that vitreous enamel steel had the hardwearing attributes we were looking for and that Vitrex could provide both limitless colour and print options. Vitreous enamel steel is also impervious and therefore the ideal material on which to serve food. We believe that the future design possibilities of vitreous enamel steel is limitless and are extremely excited about using it more often – not only in our designs for Nando’s, but also in other interior designs as we continue our association with Vitrex.”
Dry says he believes that as vitreous enamel steel is increasingly seen in Egg Designs interior landscapes in future, the product’s relatively under-utilised capacity in this creative field in South Africa will be discovered and increasingly specified by the design fraternity.
“Nando’s are pushing the boundaries in every aspect of design and allowing Egg Designs to implement this innovative application of an established form of architectural cladding shows the restaurant chain’s commitment to lead the field.”
The interior designer says the “absolute passion, commitment and exceptional professionalism” displayed by Vitrex in the execution of this order bore testimony to the company’s success as a global player.
Cristian Cottino says several of the other major advantages of vitreous enamel cladding will also be important in the product’s new role as restaurant table top. These benefits include:
* Physical properties: incombustible (proven by recent international fire tests), resistant to high temperatures and thermal shock. The enamel does not release toxic gases, and also does not produce smoke;
* Chemical properties: resistant to corrosion from water, salt spray, or soil; resistant also to atmospheric agents such as UV radiation and pollutants, as well as chemicals; and impermeable to liquids;
* Mechanical properties: scratch and impact resistant, and also resists vandalism as it is very difficult to permanently mark the surface;
* Hygiene properties: odours and flavours are not absorbed or transmitted, the cladding surface inhibits the proliferation of bacteria and mould;
* Environmental properties: only simple periodic maintenance required without the need for chemicals for cleaning, and the non-toxic panels are recyclable;
* Vast colour range: an enormous range of hues and shades can be produced;
* Durability properties: extremely long working life – well over 35 years, consequently offering lower refurbishment costs, and
* Colour brilliance: Vitreous enamels exhibit a unique colour brilliance, and matt and semi-matt enamels can be formulated for specific applications.