The "wow" factor returned to KBIS this year, nowhere more so than in the surfacing materials sector. New colours and innovations in countertops, flooring and wall cladding were everywhere on the show floor giving attendees lots to absorb and consider.
I was given a hint this would be the case on two separate occasions: As a member of BlogTour at last year's KBIS in New Orleans, I was shown a new product called Dekton by Cosentino. More recently, I wrote about a similar product called Neolith. Both products are part of a new surfacing segment currently being referred to as ultracompact surfaces.
|Vanity clad in wood grain Neolith|
|Neolith - BETON|
|Dekton - KERANIUM & ANANKE|
I spent most of my time with Neolith for no other reason than I had seen Dekton at KBIS last year and I wanted to give the "new kid" a fair shake ... that and the Neolith people had reached out to me and provided me with more information than any other supplier. They're aggressive, which reminded me of when Cosentino introduced Silestone several years ago. This is good news for the design industry and consumers ... it means there's competition and than results in innovation and superior product.
Each manufacturer has a proprietary formula for their material, so for the time being deciding between the two materials will need to be based on colours and patterns available. I'd give Neolith the nod in this department. Their Estatuario (shown above) is insanely beautiful and so lifelike that even close-up it's difficult to tell it's not real marble. The image only gives you a tiny bit of the impression the real thing does.
I have no doubt Dekton will add to their repertoire of lifelike materials, and I give them high marks for showing a very beautiful high-gloss finish (shown left). Dekton also claims to have better sheet sizes and thicknesses than their competitor which will result in more efficient use of sheets and subsequently lower prices to the consumer. That's likely of more interest to the fabricators because if the performance of the material is equal (and so far it appears that it is) the consumer will choose based on aesthetic first, especially in the luxury price point.
But as I said, competition is good for everyone, and in the world of surfacing USM just made things very interesting.