Focus: Smooth Transition

Formica continues to change with the times, moving into the era of texture and touch with its new product Infiniti

Words by Francis Pearce

Although polished surfaces are popular, high gloss is mainly reserved for kitsch projects, often intended to evoke the Sixties and Seventies when plastic was the happening thing and the future was going to be all tin-foil jumpsuits and nylon wigs. Now, in what was once the unfathomably distant 21st century, matte surfaces have more grip on public tastes.

Unfortunately, they tend to mark, disturbing the effect of smoothness and calm intended to create balance in the workplace and shopping mall. Last year though, Formica, whose textured and gloss laminates were a mainstay of mid-century design, won Red Dot and German Design awards for a voguish, smooth, moleskin-like surface with an anti-fingerprint and anti-marking properties.

Formica Infiniti walls and panels, in Diamond BlackFormica Infiniti walls and panels, in Diamond Black

The patent-pending process used for Formica Infiniti creates micro-contours in the surface that both channel away the moisture from fingertips and scatter and absorb light, making it reflection-free and giving depth to its solid colours. As the company itself says, its ‘different from highgloss surfaces or deep texture…the contemporary matte finish moves laminate away from the association with plastic.

The surface provides an understated aesthetic that celebrates simplicity over excess,’ says group creative product director Eva Hoernisch. ‘Formica Infiniti recognises texture and touch as the essential sensorial interface between man and material.’ Infiniti’s development acknowledges that surfacing is more than a skin or envelope; it is also a spatial instrument for design; one that takes account of our different interactions with a material, from opening a door to working at a desk.

Postformed shelf, in Formica Infiniti Neo CloudPostformed shelf, in Formica Infiniti Neo Cloud

The matte surface layer also protects the material in high traffic areas and gives it stronger resistance to scratching and abrasions than standard laminate, according to Formica. It is hard-wearing and features anti-microbial protection, making it suitable for use in hospitality, healthcare, office and educational spaces and, now, domestic settings.

If the surface does become burnished, it can be healed by a paper towel, water and an iron. It can be used on floors, walls and tops and comes in 20 colours and patterns: 10 neutral colours; seven chromatic colours used to accentuate design, and three Neo tone-on-tone patterns. And because it is post-formable the product can hold a curve, giving designers freedom to create streamlined interiors but subtle ones, a galaxy away from the shiny curves of the swinging Sixties and ‘the decade that taste forgot’.

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