This year’s Surface Design Show took place at London’s Business Design Centre from 5th – 7th February and was the destination for architects and designers keeping up with all the new surface-related innovations. Over 150 companies participated this year and the displays did not disappoint – Trend-Monitor was there to spot the key trends.

Surface Trend No.1: Acoustics

One of the important themes of the show was noise reduction in an open-plan setting. There were a number of companies exhibiting solutions, and while the applications may have been focused on the commercial sector, the consumer’s ongoing love of open-plan living is bringing it closer to residential settings too.

Print Acoustics was displaying its acoustic panels and doors that have been developed to absorb sound, particularly the human voice. Made from water-resistant MDF, the panels can be made to measure, and are shock and scratch-proof. The grooves and holes in the panels give each its own acoustic value, and distinctive look.

Friends of Wilson was exhibiting its range of acoustic wall panels and screens. The Tesselate wall panel made from part-recycled fibre resembles a work of art, and works by scattering sound waves in different directions.

The company’s room dividers can be used to create a broken-plan setting, reducing noise and encouraging areas of privacy.

The studio of Finnish artist Anne Kyyrö Quinn was exhibiting its sculptural creations made from cut, sewn and hand-finished fabrics. Inspired by organic shapes, the three-dimensional felt designs are ISO-classified as Class D absorbers with a high-frequency efficiency rating, while the acoustic panels are ISO-classified as Class A absorbers.

Surface Trend No.2: Back to Nature

Natural products were out in force. Innerspace Cheshire was showing its NatureMoss wall covering, made from real moss, but treated to preserve it so it has the look of a living wall but without the maintenance issues. The company’s bark panels have sound-absorbing qualities and are made from cork, birch or poplar and sourced from responsibly managed forests.

Freund also had sound-absorbing wall art made from moss and bark on its stand. Its Evergreen moss panels are soft to touch, and do not require light, water or fertiliser. They were displayed alongside bark products, such as the natural cork tree bark.

Austrian manufacturers, Organoid Technologies were displaying their surfaces made of natural raw materials such as hay, flower petals and leaves. These are applied, partly by hand, on various carrier boards – HPL high pressure laminates, self-adhesive films, fleeces, textiles, etc. Thanks to a gentle production process, the natural features of scent, colour and feel are preserved.

Finium was exhibiting its decorative wall panels in real wood, focusing on juxtaposing rich tone and rough texture for maximum effect. The company uses raw timber from sustainably managed North American forests, and says that the varnishes and oils that it uses are continuously recycled and reused throughout the production cycle, while no part of the tree is wasted.

Surface Trend No.3: Sustainability

Sustainability was a theme that ran throughout the show. One brand, keen to get the message across, was Alusid with its SilicaStone surface – a sustainable alternative to natural stone, traditional ceramic or modern, polymer-based surfaces. SilicaStone is a versatile material made from glass, ceramics and mineral waste. Through the process of sintering – binding the materials together by applying heat and pressure – low-value waste materials and by-products are transformed into surfaces that can be used for a number of design applications. It can be cut, ground, polished and glazed like traditional granite. Made without resin, it is UV-stable and naturally fire resistant.

PHEE-board is a bio-composite decorative flat panel (veneer) make by recycling the dead leaves of the seagrass Posidonia Oceanica, which wash up annually on Mediterranean coastlines. By combining with biological resins, the leaves are made into boards for different different commercial uses such as furniture, flooring and interior design applications

Trend No.4: Next Generation MDF

Also spotted at the show were companies taking MDF to the next stage. Valchromat, distributed by James Latham, is a wood fibre panel which is coloured throughout using organic dyes to impregnate all the fibres individually. It is moisture resistant, and has greater resistance to bending and higher mechanical strength when compared to standard coloured MDF. It comes in 10 colours and five thicknesses.

Similar product Forescolor, distributed by International Decorative Surfaces, is made exclusively of pine wood, and comes in nine colours and three thicknesses. Specifically developed to overcome the limitations of normal MDF board, Forescolor is made without using formaldehyde resin and has high moisture resistance making it suitable for bathroom and kitchen applications


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