EuroCucina is just around the corner and the excitment is building up by the day. Who’s in the show, who’s out this year and so much more, in the coming months. In the meantime, a new concept in salone, which is not just kitchens will be introduced this year -
A glimpse into how architects live at the 2014 Salone del Mobile
With just four months to go to the launch, the final touches are being put to the 53rd edition, which will be held from 8th to 13th April. The focus is on powerfully emphasising Milan’s centrality and its unique position in terms of the quality of its design and furnishing at global level.
“The Salone is a valuable resource for the Italian economy,” said Cosmit President Claudio Luti. “Not only does it need to be preserved, it also needs to be bolstered with innovational services and projects catering to international business and client demand, in order to make the Milan event more attractive than ever.”
Works in progress for the next edition include the exhibition to be held at the Fairgrounds ? a show that will tell the story of the domestic interiors conceived and inhabited by top contemporary architects from several different continents: Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
“Where Architects Live” is an original installation, inspired by leading contemporary architects’ own concepts of the domestic space. It will be virtual progression through the buildings in which the architects themselves live, illustrating just what is involved in designing homes for the most demanding people of all ? themselves ? with the freedom to experiment with visions and language.
The curator of the event/installation, Francesca Molteni – who curated “Design Dance” with Michela Marelli (2012) and “A Celestial Bathroom” (2010) – has been privy to the private homes of some of the greatest exponents of the architectural world greatest exponents of the architectural world, filming the exteriors and domestic spaces and recording an interview with each of them on the triggers, inspiration and choices that have shaped their design and professional careers. “The aim of the event”, continued Mr. Luti, “is to explore the art of living today, with a close look at the people who are changing the face of our cities, the configuration of the global landscape and the collective imagination, putting the spotlight on new ways of planning domestic environments from every possible aspect. This is the fundamental mission of the Salone del Mobile, cultural concepts that drive the sector.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
Planning on attending this great 7 day event? The hall plans are now available online!
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 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.
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.