LAS VEGAS – Texture and dimension, neutralized colors and Indonesian
influences as well as consumers’ desire for realism and
sophisticated design are driving interior design trends and new
product introductions in 2004.
That’s the view of design experts at Formica Corp., a leading
manufacturer of countertop and other surfacing materials.
Formica released its “2004 Design Trends Forecast” to the trade
press in conjunction with several recent trade shows here. The
forecast detailed the latest design themes, color tendencies and
ideas for residential settings, including consumer preferences for
the kitchen and bath.
“Today, consumers are blending the comforts of the past with the
optimism of the future and, further, are more willing to express
their creativity and personal style, while choosing the latest in
advanced technology and convenience,” said Rene’ Hytry,
v.p./design for the Cincinnati-based Formica Corp. “We’ll see
products in 2004 that replicate textures and finishes of real stone
and granite, yet are easier to maintain.”
Citing a recent report issued by the Color Marketing Group,
Hytry noted that consumers “have purchased items with unexpected
“Today, they are looking for durable home products with brighter
colors and home fashions that focus on innocence, freshness and
elegance,” she observed.
In the year ahead, architects, designers and consumers will be
asked by their customers to specify “new, more sophisticated
building materials to create interiors that blend comfort with
creativity, past with future, and luxury with practicality,” Hytry
OUTDOORS COMES IN
According to Hytry, texture
is becoming increasingly important as an element in interior
design, as colors blend and neutralize.
“With the popularity of outdoor living, there’s also a craving
for realism, or using materials that look and feel like those found
in nature,” she explained. “And, as people customize their spaces
to express their individuality, they’re incorporating exotic,
spa-like motifs from faraway places like Asia, representing a
therapeutic and nurturing environment.”
In the prosperous 1990s, many homeowners cultivated a taste for
high-end materials such as natural granite, stone and expensive
woods only to face a new, uncertain decade that caused them to
restrict home spending, Hytry pointed out.
“However, new technological advances in man-made materials now
make it possible to mix luxury and sophistication with practicality
and realism,” she said. “For example, honed stones have been a
popular choice in real stone flooring, and now homeowners want that
look on the countertop. [But] while this type of finish is
desirable, real stone is difficult to maintain,” Hytry continued,
noting that Formica recently introduced a realistic honed finish in
laminate, as part of the company’s “Etchings Finish Collection.”
The laminate surface features subtle clefts and crevices that mimic
softly brushed stone.
Solid surfacing materials also remain popular in the kitchen and
bath, and engineered stone “is growing as consumers’ expectations
for realistic-looking man-made products increase and costs are
lower compared to natural products,” according to Hytry.
New Formica Solid Surfacing introductions have been targeted as
a response to a demand by consumers for “even more choices in
granite and stone looks.
“Translucent looks and glass tints with subtle pearlescent
shimmers continue to be popular this year,” Hytry said. “Retro
smoked glass, striking cobalt blue and green citron are
incorporated in the new ‘ice’ patterns we’re introducing that lend
a sophisticated look to contemporary counters or vanities.”
As the newest interior design trends blend the comforts of the
past with the optimism of the future, “consumers will continue to
expand their creativity and embrace the new technologies and
opportunities being introduced,” Hytry added.
In keeping with these trends, the 2004 Formica laminate and solid
surface introductions fall into seven basic color families:
- Warm, Usable Grays. “Extremely usable and fresh, this color
category is a blend of gray, blue and green,” Hytry said. These
include warm grays with “just a hint of cool blend with natural and
man-made materials alike.”
- Rich, Earthy Browns. Inspired by stone, wood and metal, these
gold- and red-influenced browns are rich and sophisticated a
natural progression of the popular gold of last year, Hytry
- Soft Blacks. “Using real granites and slates to color style
this family, blacks become softer, warmer and naturalized,” Hytry
- Deep, Saturated Blues. “Spa-like colors and complex
yellow-based blues indicate our need for calming influences,” Hytry
- Yellowed Greens. Consumers’ desire for renewal makes itself
apparent with the influence of yellowed greens, which signify
regeneration and rebirth, Hytry explained.
- Sophisticated Golds. “Golds appear softer this year as yellow
influences the entire palette,” Hytry noted, adding that
sophisticated golds are quieter and softer than in the past.
- Shades of White. Hytry also said that she sees many shades of
white lightening and brightening up the palette, from crisp linen
white to yellow-infused white.