Coat check

Designers have a dizzying array of surface finishes from which to choose. John Stones and Helen Parton talk to designers and consultants to find out about new trends

Tom Dixon’s Copper Shade

Dr Andrew Dent believes recycled materials are set to increase in popularity. There’s certainly no shortage of examples in Material ConneXion’s monthly material updates, ranging from reconstituted leather panels to reclaimed wooden flooring, to recycled glass, granite and grit that is incorporated into resin to make colourful terrazzo tiles with sparkling crystalline particles. In-keeping with the environmentally friendly bent, Dent expects an increase in the uptake of finishes such as paints with lower volatile organic compounds, which emit fewer of the harmful gases that can contribute to sick building syndrome.

Dent says the prevailing attitude to plastics is that they are cheap and not very durable. ‘Polymers and plastics have seen tremendous innovation, but people still love natural materials,’ he says. As a result, Material ConneXion has sourced a number of products, which combine the aesthetics of natural materials with the practicality of synthetic elements – for example, thinly cut marble backed with structural foam to make a lightweight tile.

100% Design and 100% Materials

On display at this year’s 100% Design exhibition will be the ‘hairy wall’ technique that Manchester-based designer Stella Corrall developed as part of a project for the BBC’s offices in White City, west London. Continuing the trend for highly tactile surfaces, the ‘hairy wall’, uses fire retardant plastic that has been dyed and threaded tightly through an aluminium powder coated panel, a technique with which Corrall continues to experiment.

Watch out too for an installation by author and materials guru Chris Lefteri in the 100% Materials part of the show, which will present intriguing ideas, including heat-resistant ceramic paper, self-healing plastic film and a material that breathes and feels like human skin but looks like a piece of jelly.

100% Design and 100% Materials, 22-25 September, Earls Court, London SW5

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