Finishing School (part two) – lacquer

This time, we’ll cover one of the most popular finishes that European cabinets are known for – Lacquer.

Wikipedia -In a general sense, lacquer is a somewhat imprecise term for a clear or coloured wood finish that dries by solvent evaporation. It is also often a curing process as well that produces a hard, durable finish. This finish can be of any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss, and it can be further polished as required. It is also used for “lacquer paint”, which typically denotes a paint that dries to a more than usually hard and smooth surface.

In cabinetry (and in furniture), we generally find lacquer , often called ‘shellac’, in two applications: over wood or as a color paint. It can be any of various durable natural varnishes, mostly a varnish obtained from an Asian sumac (Rhus verniciflua) —called also Japanese lacquer, or any of various synthetic organic coating (clear or colored), that dries to create a hard coating, mostly a solution of cellulose dervative (such as nitrocellulose).

Lacquered wood – generally the application of lacquer over wood is over wood veneer (sheets of wood), on slab (flat) door and in high gloss. the application of high gloss lacquer over wood veneer, gives the wood a shiny finish and creates a 3D like affect, adding depth to the wood grain look.

Pros: – rich, unique look, that a second to none, of shiny wood, magnifiying the wood design.

- easy to clean (with just a little soap and water) due to the super smooth, glass-like finish, that does not absorb anything.

Cons: – expensive. The application of the veneer, plus the glossy lacqcer, adds up to a high price.

- on dark colors, shows fingerprints.

High gloss lacquer over wood veneer

High gloss lacquer over wood veneer. Eggersmann









Color laqcuer – lacquer is paint, usually sparayed over MDF boards,  that dry by the evaporation of simple solvent and that contains a solid binder that dissolves in a solvent. When that process happens, a thin, hard shell is created.  A few coats are applied to reach approx 5 mm. thickness.

There are three groups of lacquer textures being offered – matte, high-gloss and textured. The matte is simply that – flat paint like finish. The glossy can be at different sheen levels, but is primarily done as a high gloss. The textured lacquer is sprayed from a heated spary gun and when it meets the cold air, it forms a textured finish that is actually more durable than the other two.

Matte lacquer

Matte lacquer, Snaidero











Pros: – the clean, perfect look of lacquer…

- easy to clean (with just a little soap and water).

Cons: the matte finish is a bit more sustainable to scratches.

- on dark colors, shows finger prints.

Glossy finish white lacquer

Application of high gloss white lacquer finish, over MDF panels. Pedini.

LivingKitchen® – The international kitchen show at imm cologne

Even more international, even more spectacular. The big names from all segments of the kitchen sector will be represented at LivingKitchen 2013. Covering an area of 42,000 square meters, more than 180 well-known national and international suppliers will bring their latest ideas and innovations to the trade fair – from kitchen furniture and built-in appliances to sinks, fixtures, worktops, lighting and accessories. Come and experience all of the trends related to the kitchen in one place, and enjoy seven days filled with life!

The Cologne Kitchen Show

Living Kitchen, 2013, in Cologne










Planning on attending this great 7 day event? The hall plans are now available online!


Fifty (Modern European) Shades of Grey

I recently discovere that the Fifty Shades of Grey apartment , located in the luxury Escala Building, in Seattle (okay…, the one that inspired the story and that the story takes place in) has a great European kitchen! It is not white (like in the story), but is done in exotic wood, covered with clear high gloss lacquer finish. As a matter of fact, the kitchens and vanities in the entire building, are all modern European cabintry, designed and supplied by Pedini.

The Fifty Shades of Grey apartment, featuring a modern kitchen by Pedini

This modern kitchen is in the penthouse apartment, at the Escala building, in Seattle, WA. – the inspiration for Fifty Shades of Grey story.




Escala, in Seattle, WA. is where the Fifty Shades of Grey story takes place

Escala, Seattle, furnished entirly with European cabinetry








The modern master bathroom, at the Escala penthouse, done in high gloss white lacquer cabinetry, by Pedini

The Fifty Shades of Grey master bathroom – only one shade of white…

The Escala is not the only luxury building that is featuring Pedini kitchens. According to the company, in NYC alone, there are three luxury buildings under construction right now, that will be offering Pedini kitchens and vanities in every apartment. But Pedini is not the only modern European kitchen company that is suppliying European kitchens to luxury apartment buildings – all around the US, many high rise buildings are featuring European cabinetry. Poggenpohl, Snaidero and Bulthaup are just a few of the manufacturers that are often featured in these buildings and the developers offering them outside of metropolitan areas as well.

Many developers are realizing that  the buyers (and renters) of these luxury apartments are looking for the highest quality product, with the latest technology and they usually prefer the sleek contemporary European kitchen look, over the more traditional American cabinetry.

European modern wood veneer kitchen by Pedini

The B unit kitchen design, at the Escala building, in Seattle, WA., featuring Pedini cabinetry





One of the vanities, in the Escala Building, in high gloss lacquer, over wood veneer

One of the vanities, in the Escala Building, in high gloss lacquer, over wood veneer











One of the modern kitchens, at the Escala building - ebony veneer, with a high gloss finish

The Escala building kitchens, by Pedini.

Finishing School (part one) – Laminate

So many of you have asked me about the different finishes that are offered by the various manufacturers that I’ve decided to offer some information. I will try to assist you in choosing the right finishes and materials, in selecting your new kitchen.

We’ll start with one of the most common finishes and the most cost-effective one – laminate.

Wikipedia - Lamination is the technique of manufacturing a material in multiple layers, so that the composite material achieves improved strength, stability, appearance or other properties from the use of differing materials. A laminate is usually permanently assembled by heat, pressure, welding, or adhesives.

In the case of kitchen cabinets, the term Laminate usually refers to a plastic-like material, that gets applied onto the sub straight  material of the door (mostly press board or MDF). The  plastic laminate finishes that are available in the marketplace today are:

Thermofoil (or thermoplastic) - a vinyl like sheet, that is applied onto MDF doors, in various shapes, using a heat. The access vinyl, then gets cut off around the door. Usually comes in white, off white and wood colors.

Pros:  – realistic ‘photo like’ appearance.

- easy to clean, as it is a vinyl finish.

Cons: - thermofoil must be produced in very large quantities, of each color.

- due to the process, the finish is only on the front and edges – the back of the door is usually white.

- over time, high temperatures (such as the one generated by self cleaning ovens) can cause the vinyl to shrink and delaminate.

Thermofoil lost some popularity in recent years, as a result of the above cons and the introduction of other attractive laminate materials.

Thermofoil by Premole

Thermofoil by Premoule


High Pressure laminate samples

High Pressure laminate samples


High and Low pressure laminate (HPL and LPL) - application of printed paper-like material, over  sub straight, using heat and pressure. Available in just about any color, wood colors and with or without a light texture (wood grain or other).

Pros:  - very realistic ‘photo like’ appearance.

- can be produced in smaller quantities than thermofoil, at a competitive price.

Cons: – can only be used on flat surfaces, so only slab door design can have this finish.

- ‘self edging’ resulting in poor look and quality and so some type of other edging is preferable – abs (matching color thicker plastic) and aluminum edging are most common.

Thermo Structure laminate

Thermo Structure laminate










Wood Finish Thermo Structure Panels

Wood Finish Thermo Structure Panels










Manufacturing Thermo Structure laminate

Manufacturing Thermo Structure laminate












Thermo-structure laminate – this is a more recent form of the above laminates, but with a heavier ‘real looking’ texture. The texture is achieved by high pressure press that has textured steel plate, onto the laminate material. Available in just about any color, wood colors and with strong textures, such as wood grain and many others.

Pros: – looks more real than the ‘real thing’.

- comes with a matching edge, to create even more realistic look than the laminates above.

Cons: – can only be used on flat surfaces, so only slab door design can have this finish.


Who’s cabinets are these anyway…?

Did you know that just like the automobile industry, or the banking sector, kitchen companies (especially in Europe, but also in the US and other parts of the world) may actually be owned  by another company or are a part of a large group that owns several brands?

Why does it matter you ask? Many times it really doesn’t matter – companies buy other companies because it makes a perfect business sense. They can improve profitability through integration and reduce costs at the same time, thus improving their bottom line. But what if you’re comparing two products, that are actually manufactured by the same company, with a few minor details changed and are being asked to pay much more just for a name? Sometimes, it is even made in the same factory… Now you may be asking: “Why would a company do that?” Here are a few possible reasons:

  • Increase distribution – they can add more dealers, selling similar products, many times, in the same areas, with the same reps, without increasing overhead and without their existing dealers complaining about another dealer, selling the same product, too close to them.
  • Be their own competition – they don’t care who you buy from, as long as it is one of their brands…
  • Branching to another price level, that their present product doesn’t reach, without jeopardizing their present product sales and risking an image.
  • Rather than building a distribution for their existing products in a new country, acquiring another brand that is already being distributed and just adding theirs to the existing dealers network, can be an easy solution.

How is that different from a company that has different models? A company that has different models, is usually offering ‘good, better, best’ options, based on materials, finishes and/or options that are available in each model. Here, we are talking about either a) Products that are sometimes so similar, the companies can actually switch the brand plates on the drawers and we wouldn’t know the difference…; or b) investing lots of money in a fancy brand name, that could be nothing more that that – a name…

Here are a few examples:

The Alno Group

Alno Wellmann Pino Impuls Tielsa Star Beka Geba







The Alno Group – a few years ago, it aquired the Wellmann Group, which years prior to that, aquired brands like Geba, Tielsa and StarBeka, to name just a few. There was so much overlapping in their offerings, that they ended up phasing these brands, one after another. A few years later, they were acquired by the Alno group and went through another round of phasing out brands. Still today, the group has some overlapping and in some parts of the world, they are selling a couple of brands, under the Alno label, though it is not an Alno kitchen…

The Combini Group

Colombini Rossana Febal Artec Salvarani






The Colombini Group, from San Marino – their deep pockets, allowed them in recent years to take-over struggling companies, like Febal and Rossana. They are now made, in the same factory and are pretty much the same product with quite a bit of overlapping in their offerings. Last year, they have purchased the name Salvarani, after the company went out of business. Why buy just a name…? maybe because the brand name is still so strong in some markets (like Spain, for example)…

Scavolini Ernestomeda










Scavolini Group – few people know that Ernestomeda, is actually Scavolini’s higher end line. It was launched in 1996, is made very similar to the Scavolini product, with a few minor changes (mainly the doors) and is marketed as another brand all together, attempting to target a higher end clientele.

The above is very important to kitchen dealers but could also be very interesting to a consumer, who may be trying to decide between brand A and brand B…

Back from Eurocucina

According to Cosmit: I Saloni 2012 have been a resounding success. A tremendous source of pride for Italy.

The eastern entrance to the Fiera Milano, during Eurocucina (i Saloni)

The entrance at i Saloni 2012 (Eurocucina) Photo by Alessandro Russotti – Courtesy Cosmit spa











The eyes of the design world were focused on the 51st edition of the Saloni ( 17th to 22nd April), which encompassed 2,700 Italian and foreign exhibitors at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the International Furnishing Accessories Exhibition, the SaloneSatellite and the biennial EuroCucina, International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition and the International Bathroom Exhibition.

During Eurocucina, Fiera Milano, 2012. Photo by Annalisa Cimmino – Courtesy Cosmit spa

During Eurocucina, Fiera Milano, 2012. Photo by Annalisa Cimmino – Courtesy Cosmit spa











In figures: 331,649 visitors overall. 292, 370 industry professionals (3.5% up on 2011). 188,579 foreign industry professionals making up 64.5% of the total (+5.9%), plus 103,791 Italian professionals (in line with last year’s results). In addition to the industry, 6,484 members of the press attended the 2012 Saloni, 5,725 of them from countries all over the world (outside of Italy). “These are exceptional results, especially given the prevailing bleak economic climate in the run-up to the Saloni.” said Cosmit’s President, Carlo Guglielm. “However, our minds are at ease not just by the figures, but particularly by the level of exhibitor satisfaction at the very real business opportunities and the excellent operator standards. The whole thing has been a tremendous success,  not just in quantitative terms. The events in the city promoting the culture of living also had a large part to play. Yet again the Saloni has proven itself not just as a business opportunity but as a vehicle for culture, with culture at the very heart of our city-wide events.”

Eurocucina and i Saloni - Great Sucesses, according to Cosmit

Cosmit is reporting numbers up from 2011 Photo by Annalisa Cimmino – Courtesy Cosmit spa











FederlegnoArredo’s President, Roberto Snaidero, had this to say: “We are delighted with all that has been achieved. The results and the awareness that the Saloni generate just go to show how firmly they are established as a prime trigger for relaunching the Italian economy. We cannot lose sight, however,  of the fact that businesses are going through an extremely tough time, some of them forced to close down or make staff cuts. We must stress our solidarity with the families of all those employed in all our companies, conscious of the fact that businesses and employees are all pulling together to overcome this swingeing financial crisis.

Eurocucina 2012, as part of i Saloni

SALONE MOBILE, DESIGN FAIR, MILANO, COSMIT, FIERA. Photo by Annalisa Cimmino – Courtesy Cosmit spa

Get ready for Eurocucina 2012!

i Saloni - Milano 2012

Salone Internazionale del Mobile






The International Kitchen Show – Milan 2012



Next month (April) will be the 51st anniversary of Saloni (Tuesday, April 17th., to Sunday, April 22nd.) – the largest and most important Furniture fair in the world. Every other year, as part of Saloni show, a portion of the fair is dedicated to Eurocucina – the largest and most important kitchen show (also bath and appliances) in the world. This will be the 19th. time Eurocucina is taking place and the 2nd. time it is joined by FTK – the Technology in The Kitchen section, with new technology, appliances and such.

The Milan Fair

The entrance to the exhibit space











The show organizers, Cosmit (Comitato Organizzatore del Salone del Mobile Italiano), are hoping for a big turnout this year. 2010 was the first year since the inception of Eurocucina, back in 1974, that the total number of visitors declined from the previous show (297,460, vs. 348, 452 in 2008). It was blamed on the world economy and the fact that many non-Europeans stayed home. Add to that the fact that 2010 was remembered for the Volcano eruption in Iceland, that trapped many of show attendees in Italy with no way to get back home and the declining economy in Europe and the organizers are keeping their fingers crossed…

Eurocucina 2012, at the Milan Fair

Eurocucina 2012, at the Milan Fair














Our sources are telling us that several brands, such as Poggenpohl and Pedini, to name a few, have pulled out of the show and are doing something else this year. Poggenpohl chose to attend KBIS (Kitchen & Bath Industry Show) in the US and Pedini are having an In-House Fair instead, celebrating the grand opening of their new showroom in the factory.

Eurocucina 2012 at the Milan Fair

2012 Saloni with Eurocucina














Saloni 2012  Figures

Place: Milan Fairgrounds, Rho

Date: 17th-22nd April 2012

Times: from 9.30am to 6.30pm. Open to sectoral operators only.  Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd April open to the public.

Salone Satellite: open to the public every day during the trade show from 9.30am to 6.30pm. Free entry.

Total exhibitors: 1.729 + 750 designers of SaloneSatellite

Net exhibition area: 209,000 square metres

Overall exhibition area: 530,000 square metres


International Kitchen Furniture Exhibition

19th edition

Products on exhibit:  plastic laminate kitchens, wood kitchens, metal kitchens, lacquered kitchens, brick kitchens, furnishing accessories for kitchens.

Associations and sectoral bodies, newspapers, magazines  and sectorial publications.

Exhibitors: 130

Pavilions: 9-11-13-15

Net exhibition area: 27,000 square metres

Press Gallery: inside the Pavilions

Frequency: Biennial