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.
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 – 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.
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 – 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 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 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…
According to Cosmit: I Saloni 2012 have been a resounding success. A tremendous source of pride for Italy.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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…
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.
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
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.
Net exhibition area: 27,000 square metres
Press Gallery: inside the Pavilions
The Vipp story begins one spring Sunday in 1931 when 17-year-old Holger Nielsen wins a car in a lottery at the local football stadium. Holger loves cars but has no driving licence, and he therefore decides to sell the car and invest in a metal lathe. This marks the beginning of Holger’s metal factory where, a few years later, he creates the product that will make him famous around the world: the Vipp pedal bin.
Since then Vipp has grown into a large family offering a wide range of products. Today, the original bin is available in five sizes and has been joined by several new bathroom and kitchen products.
The kinship in the Vipp collection is unmistakable in both the choice of materials and style. The new products are manufactured using the characteristic Vipp materials, steel and rubber, enhancing Vipp’s more than 70-year-old tradition for excellent craftsmanship and durability.
Now, some 80+ years later, Vipp is launching one of its most sensational product-developments with a radical reinterpretation of the kitchen.
Since the creation of the bin in 1939, Vipp has become synonymous with quality products for the kitchen and bathroom.
“Vipp’s experience lies within product design focusing on solid materials, mechanics and function. As a consequence we have chosen to design the Vipp kitchen as a product or rather as a piece of furniture. The result is a range of kitchen modules where choices have already been made based on a thorough knowledge of materials combined with an aesthetic opinion on what constitutes good design.” – chief designer in Vipp, Morten Bo Jensen.
Vipp’s more than 70 years of experience within processing of steel makes stainless steel an evident choice of material in the development of the Vipp kitchen.
“Like with the Vipp bin, we bring the industrial look into the home with the new kitchen – a solid product, standing to be used day after day.” – Morten Bo Jensen.
A range of modules in different sizes can be combined and formed after individual needs. The complete Vipp kitchen concept unfolds in every detail – even fixtures, drawer pulls and inserts, as well as gas knobs are developed in respect to Vipp’s design DNA injecting a functional and visual cohesiveness into the kitchen.
The Vipp kitchen is sold in Vipp Flagship Store in Copenhagen.
It is hard to keep re-inventing the wheel and kitchen cabinets are no different – after all, it is a box, with a couple of hinges and a door. You change it too much and it will simply not function…
The top European kitchen manufacturers are facing an ongoing dilemma – year after year, to come up with something new and exciting . The kitchen industry is really a fashion-driven business, and just like the clothing designers, kitchen manufacturers are doing whatever they can to be different and to pioneer a new look, one that will set them apart and get them noticed.
One of the ways these manufactures are trying to stay original, in the last couple of years, is to use unique materials – not just wood, laminate, glass and lacquer anymore but stone, concrete, leather and even paper are showing up on the scene and we are not talking about the counter tops…
A kitchen from Key Sbabo – the material derived from recycled, eco-friendly paper… PaperStone ® is composed of recycled paper fiber and non-petroleum-based resins. Meticulous attention has-been paid to details – even the sink is made of PaperStone ®
How about an entire kitchen, made from marble and leather…? Why not…? Toncelli Cucine.
Steininger – an entire kitchen made of ultra-thin concrete – light, strong and safe.
We already know that the kitchen industry is not recession proof. Though most companies have held up pretty well so far, we are starting to some some cracks in the road to recovery. Some are pretty wide and deep…
The companies who seem to be effected the most, by the world recession, are a few of the largest companies. Perhaps their sheer size, makes it so much harder to adjust to though times and make the unnecessary adjustments quickly.
If you look at the 10 largest European Companies, you can see the effect of the global economy – Nobia, the largest European kitchen group (at least in 2009), already sold off Pronorm in 2010 and is now reported to pull out their Poggenpohl brand from the up coming Eurocucina…
One other German industry giant – the Alno Group, is also reported to be in rough waters. The ever so needed capital, from new Swiss investor, Mr. Max Muller is hopefully going to help the company who has reportedly have gone through several changes in middle and upper management lately and allegedly is in the middle of a pending law suit by the previous CEO over compensation.
In Italy, the recent bankruptcy of the 50+ year old Salvarani and the rumors of many brands in financial difficulties have the industry in buzz…
It will be very interesting to see what the Milan Fair and the Eurocucina show will look like next April. Rumor has it that Cosmit, who is the organizer of the show, is working very hard on convincing companies to return to the show next year.