Where we saw the 2016-2017 market turning towards thinner, slighter surfaces, we are now noticing a definitive sea change amongst house-builders and developers alike.
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 from rough sandstone and wood-effect surfaces offsetting polished marbles or smooth cement.
Thicker, deeper, fuller
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 tabletop and the bathroom as an attractive vanity.
The last year saw huge leaps in what can be achieved with sintered stone surfaces. A recent project we 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 residential surfacing application from flooring through to worktops, even facades!
The industry is continually improving processes, as much as we are developing new colours and finishes; we are also committed to refining existing ones. Our expectation is that, in conjunction to ambitious and otherworldly 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 homeowners 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.
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.