The Surface and Material Show 2017

As part of the 2017 UK construction week, the surface and material show is led by new innovative products, lots of companies striving for advancement in materials, and creating new unique surfaces. A host of lots of revolutionary materials that push the boundaries of interior design and construction.

As an intern going to the show there were lots of opportunities to speak with industry specialists and up and coming textile designers.

One of the first stands I went to, was the Birmingham City University graduate textile stand. After speaking in depth with the senior Lecturer Zoe Hillyard, I got a sense of what was possibly the future trends of textiles and where textile design was heading.

She explained the current students were designing for trends two years in advance. One student was showing me her work and she said this was to be of trend in 2019. I think this is one-way that contract furniture companies can almost predict trends, and therefore be in front of the market in terms of design and innovation.

Looking through the show, there were some really interesting patterns and colours used. This piece showcases different materials and how to apply them to a college of art and modern design.

I then went to a stand clad in metal, a Turkish company that produce metal plated MDF boards into a unique metal surface. Solide Signature’s sales director Emre Ipekli explained to me the process of metal plating wood; this involves very high temperatures and a secret additive to the metal.

They can plate any metal to almost any surface. I was given a bronze coated, hardboiled egg which had a metal thickness of 0.4mm. This process would ultimately drive the cost down of metal surfaces and could be applied to contract furniture, as a unique surface that has not been seen yet on the market.

Egg coated in bronze

As I was walking down past a few stands, Mark from Arnold Laver approached me. I was intrigued by the surfaces he had on show. He had a range of soft-touch surfaces which are coming of trend now, however, the price of the laminate is very high and most companies find it is not cost effective to use the surface.

Mark explained that more and more laminate companies are trying to drive down the cost of the laminate. The surface is much more available than a couple of years ago.

The laminate makes any table surface feel of a higher quality and considered rather than an average laminate. The surface is scratch proof and stain resistant. He sent me some of the samples and a price range.

laminate patterns

Moving on to the timber section of the show. There were companies showcasing what is possible with different woods, mainly for the construction industry. There was an MDF board that was soaked in water and came out completely dry, which was extraordinary, as MDF board is notorious for getting damp and soaking up moisture. This causes the surface to be damaged; this could help with reducing damaged table surfaces.

This stand showcased plywood and the tolerances of using the material to create interesting shapes and curves. The curls that are created by stitching the material together creates a sculptural piece. This could be applied to furniture design.

"A structural timber base with extreme curves would make for more thought-provoking furniture"

My visit to the surface and materials show was very educational from an intern prospective, and it was great to meet with the industry first hand. What I gathered was that furniture companies must look at innovation in materials and new surfaces to create market-leading products.

This became apparent when speaking with Birmingham City University and how they design for trends two years in advance. Looking at such emerging and future trends will help us design furniture for future textiles and understand how new material advances could influence furniture design as a whole.

By Will Hudson - Intern Designer