Around the world, tastes are changing. In a return to Adolf Loos' assertion that "ornament is crime", today's designers and end users are seeking out spaces that make new, inventive use of materials and eschew embellishments in favour of combining style and functionality.
Design trends reflect an ongoing shift away from the ornate, elaborate designs of yesteryear and toward a clean, minimalist aesthetic that prioritises subtlety over showiness. This preference for subtlety means that the popularity of gloss finishes in particular is declining, and the demand for luxe, matt finishes is steadily increasing.
In turn, these changes have prompted the industry to innovate and develop new super matt, fingerprint resistant technology that opens up a breadth of new possibilities for laminate usage in commercial and residential projects.
What is fingerprint resistant technology?
In the past, dark coloured laminate was restricted to decorative, hands-off applications due to its vulnerability to fingerprints, marks and scratches. Gloss finish dark laminate products are particularly prone to marking, with their surface retaining unsightly marks and scratches visible even from a distance.
Over time, the effects of this limitation on design trends and styles proved significant: until recently, laminate was a popular choice for high-use applications such as cupboard and drawer doors, vanities, and counter tops but designers could only specify light colours; as a consequence, most commercial spaces and high-end residential projects are characterised by a light, neutral colour palette that heavily features white, cream, beige and the like. The ruling out of dark coloured laminates also meant that for years, there was a significant wasted potential in terms of laminate - an otherwise high performance, durable, and versatile product that is well suited to a range of uses.
In response, the industry has developed new fingerprint resistant surface technology that is resistant to fingerprints, scuffs, smudges and other marks.
The technology relies on a super matt, scuff resistant surface that does not hold oils and dirt from fingertips and is warm and smooth to the touch. Super matt surfaces also have the advantage of reflecting very low levels of light, giving them more consistent colour than gloss surfaces. Thanks to the new technology, designers are now able to use dark coloured laminate without worrying about high maintenance requirements or unsightly smudges.
Commercial applications for fingerprint resistant technology
Previously, low-pressure melamine (LPM) was considered purely decorative material suitable only for static applications subject to less handling. Fingerprint resistant technology makes LPM more suitable for higher use applications such as wall panelling, minimalistic handle free joinery, or in any vertical application prone to fingerprints, with its rich, deep colour elevating LPM to the realm of luxurious, sophisticated materials. The super matt technology also significantly broadens the commercial colour palette, introducing the use of dark tones where they were previously impractical.
In line with the ongoing minimalist trend, handle-free cupboards and drawers have emerged as a sleek, streamlined solution for kitchens and living spaces. Fingerprint resistant LPM is perfect for such applications, with its super matt surface resisting marking and smudging even in the face of frequent use.
Durable and lightweight, LPM is easily machined and is available in a range of thicknesses and sheet sizes allowing for fast and cost effective installations achieving a dark, high-class finish. This is a marked improvement on high pressure laminate (HPL), which requires a further secondary process of laminating onto medium density fibreboard (MDF) or particleboard.
Residential applications for fingerprint resistant technology
Within the residential space, the advent of fingerprint resistant pre-finished board technology means that style no longer needs to be sacrificed in favour of functionality and ease of maintenance. Super matt dark panels bring the rich colour and luxe sophistication of commercial design into the contemporary home, with none of the high maintenance and care requirements.
The ideal solution for environments where children - who are particularly prone to leaving smudges and fingerprints - are present, super matt LPM is the ultimate childproof, soft touch solution. Now, users can enjoy the clean, sleek aesthetic of handle-free contemporary spaces without the additional hassle of regular wiping or maintenance.
In addition to its aesthetic and performance benefits, super matt LPM has the advantage of contributing to healthy, safe spaces that are free of formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals. High quality super matt E-zero board will not off-gas harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the way that other materials do, and are ideal for creating allergen free spaces for you and your family.
Now, polytec is pleased to present VENETTE, the only Australian-made and owned fingerprint resistant, anti-scuff decorative surface. Warm and smooth to the touch, VENETTE is the ideal surface for standing up to the wear and tear of a busy commercial environment.
It will not smudge, scuff, or show fingerprints, allowing designers unprecedented freedom to specify dark coloured pre-finished board for high use vertical applications. Effortlessly combining innovative, sustainable technolohy with a moisture resistant LPM composition, VENETTE delivers a luxe contemporary aesthetic alongside outstanding performance.
VENETTE is available in three sophisticated colours - Ultra White, Cinder and Black - with matching edgetape, and can be specified in single or double-sided pre-finished sheets sized 18mm x 2400mm x 1200mm. A unique UV coating process covers VENETTE's surface to ensure a hardwearing protective lacquer finish that is UV stable indoors. In addition to its outstanding performance and high degree of design flexibility, VENETTE is a stand-out in the decorative surfaces industry.
Applied to sustainable E0 board, free from formaldehyde and is GreenRate Level A certified by Global GreenTag. Designers and specifiers can rest assured that by choosing VENETTE they are investing in the low maintenance, healthy and sustainable future of their commercial or residential project. All VENETTE products are supplied with a 7-year manufacturer's warranty and are Australian made.
Article written by David Congram for Indesign Whitepaper
Images courtesy of S. Group and Red Door Project