At KWD, we are constantly inspired, in awe of and so grateful for the incredible manufacturers we work with, and in particular so proud of the Australian partners we collaborate with every day to bring our clients’ design dreams to life.
We also really admire businesses like Laminex Australia who shake up the building industry with design innovation and excellence. We have partnered with them on home renovations, retail refurbishments and commercial projects, and each and every time they have delivered on colour, quality and finish. Closer to home, Laminex helped us to create the divine, masculine feel in our newly create KWD HQ. They supplied all of the FormWrap in Black Velvet finish joinery which looks so amazing in this space.
The Laminex story is a fascinating one. It started in 1934 in a little shed in Brighton, Victoria when Robert Sykes and his silent partner Arthur Beck introduced the product to Australia as a mechanical material. In those days it had industrial applications rather than decorative, being used as electrical insulation sheets and the like. Laminex is made up of layers of a decorative paper that are treated with a non-decorative resin, with either a solid colour or a wood grain with a protective clear layer on top. It is 80% wood with a water-based resin. The ability to create a decorative layer started in the 1930s with the advent of melamine resin – a clear resin which allowed for decorative detail to be created on a surface. When World War II broke out the Laminex manufacturing came to a standstill – all manufacturing went to support the war effort making propeller blades, tubes, bearings and rods. It was after WWII that Laminex came into its own, in the post war building boom, when Sykes turned his attention to new products, using laminates in household furniture and decoration.
Explains Neil Sookee – Laminex’s Product Design Manager, “Laminex products became widely used for dining tables, bench tops, counter tops, furniture, wardrobes, television cabinets – you name it. In the late 1940s, early 1950s, it was the wonder material of the age. It is fondly associated with mid century design aesthetics. “
Continues Neil, “It really was a space age material at the time because it had such resistance compared to materials that the average person had access to. There was always a form of timber or marble or stone, and the well-healed had access to stainless steel, but for everyone else it was linoleum or tiles or timbers which are less resilient and practical.”
“The 1950s was a period of great optimism, and Laminex introduced bright colours which became really important for home design. So for a number of reasons Laminex became the darling material. Today there is a gamut of manufactured materials available, so Laminex is focused on constant reinvention to maintain relevance in the market,” says Neil.
“Our thinking is aligned with trends because that’s what consumers relate to, but we also aim to create an offering that is more timeless and classic. We will be seeing more of a neutral palette, and the colours will be subdued with light-infused pastels rather than bright chromatics (although we will always have them for retail fitouts, schools and education facilities). At the consumer level though it is a softening of the palette to make it more versatile and so that it doesn’t date so readily. “
“Our other focus is on authentic imitation. Thanks to advances in technology, lithographic prints have now become rotogravure prints aided by digital processes, so now it’s possible to get such superb reproductions of natural materials like wood grains and stones. This is a visual technique, and increasingly a textural one too. Having gone to such lengths to create a visual reproduction, the next step has been to create the most sympathetic texture possible.”
Says Neil, “For Laminex today, there are three key directions. There’s the drive for us to have a more timeless palette, the drive for us to create more faithful reproductions of materials inspired by nature, and the drive toward super-realism which is all about texture. And there’s an equal focus on consumer and commercial applications of the Laminex range.”
Laminex’s consumer design collection is influenced by the latest design trends from around the globe, and are designed to work with personal styles and lifestyles. To help bring Laminex’s design philosophy to life, they are collaborating with well-known creative Australians who have a flair for style and design in their respective fields – working with each muse to design their dream kitchen space: Chyka Keebaugh (Classic Style), Steve Cordony (Mineral Style), Anna Polyviou (Inner Urban Style) and Virginia Martin (Scandinavian Style) kick off the ‘Inspired By’ series.
Laminex understands that design comes in many guises, and that individually we are drawn to certain colours, textures, shapes and styles. To help make the design process simple for all, they have identified 12 style themes that reflect the Australian lifestyle. The Laminex Design Hub website offers terrific inspirational images, a ‘find your style’ quiz and top notch style tips (as below):
Which aesthetic reflects your personal style?
SCANDINAVIAN STYLE TIPS:
- Scandinavian style walls should be neutral with white or cool grey base colours – stick to a natural materials palette such as wood, leather, hemp and linen
- Keep timber floors light to blonde to unify your spaces and reflect light
- Clean lines in both architecture and furniture are integral to achieving this style, so take a ‘less-is-more’ approach
- Pendant lighting and occasional lamps are also signatures of the Scandinavian style.
- For a pop of colour, layer pastel or geometric bowls and plates. Open shelves or small clusters of objects on the benchtop will also add colour
This Laminex Scandinavian Kitchen features Essastone in Saint Moritz Gloss finish for the benchtop. Laminex Silk finish in Polar White for the base and overhead cabinetry and Laminex Colour Palette in Milkwood for the base overhead feature cabinetry.
CLASSIC STYLE TIPS:
- Keep walls fresh in white or a soft contrast grey and use feature wall sconces in the entry passages and above feature mirrors in bathrooms
- In living areas oversized table lamps and pendant lighting feature heavily
- Artwork for the Classic style is traditional – think botanical inspired sketches and country scenes
- Oak timber floors, parquetry and large format natural format tiles are all great options for the main flooring
- Ensure you keep the same finish in your cabinetry handles as your door hardware and furniture detail. Polished chrome or nickel are top of the list.
This Laminex Classic Kitchen Island and rear benchtops showcase essastone in Fino Venato Gloss finish with base and overhead cabinetry in Laminex FormWrap Doors and Panels White Satin finish. Large bottom drawers feature a Settler profile, small drawers in a Classic profile and overhead cabinetry in a Square profile
COASTAL STYLE TIPS:
- Use fresh white walls throughout with matching cornices, skirting and architraves to create a seamless sense of space
- Contrast this with timber floors for warmth and natural materials such as rattan, timber and jute for textural interest and subtle nautical suggestion
- Add large timber-style fans to all the main rooms as movement and breeze are vital
- Use soft sheer curtains to capture afternoon breezes – these are a large part of the mood creation for the Coastal style. Timber plantation-style shutters in white give another level of detail to window dressing
This Laminex Coastal Kitchen features island and rear benchtop with Laminex Diamond Gloss surfaces in White Valencia, Base and Overhead Cabinetry and Pantry Doors in Laminex FormWrap Doors and Panels in White Texture finish, Cabinet Frames in a Settler Profile, a Splashback in Laminex Metaline in Palladium Perle and Shelving and Bookcase in Laminex Colour Palette in White.
GLAMOUR STYLE TIPS:
- A base palette of timber flooring is ideal for Glamour, use herringbone or aged timber to add a depth of material colour and warmth
- Take period or architectural features – cornices, skirting, architraves and ceiling roses – and enhance them
- A stunning contrast can be added by pairing a modern pendant with a period ceiling rose
- A fireplace with an ornate painted or marble mantle will add a dramatic centrepiece to a living or lounge area
This Laminex Glamour Style bathroom features a Vanity Shelf in Laminex Colour Palette in Charcoal.
INDUSTRIAL STYLE TIPS:
- Ideally ceilings are high and flooring should feature either a concrete or aged timber
- Play with wall textures, using a mix of plaster and exposed brickwork
- A monochromatic palette is key to the Industrial style with a mix or greys, charcoals, blacks and whites
- Concrete tones are a must, but not necessarily on the floor. Try concrete inspired paint finishes on the walls, or a concrete styling dining table
- Large-scale black-framed windows create a sense of drama and hark back to the industrial origins of a space
- Artwork should be large, clustered or could even be in the form of a suspended bike, neon lights, vintage sign or a piece of legacy machinery
This Laminex Industrial Warehouse Kitchen features a benchtop in essastone in Monte Cervino (gloss finish), Cabinetry and Shelving Units in Laminex Impressions textured surfaces in Honey Elm Riven finish and Concrete Formwood Riven finish and Laminex Colour Palette in Black
INNER URBAN STYLE TIPS:
- Flooring should feature either a concrete look or aged timber
- Keeping the natural core of the space exposed, brickwork is raw or only partially painted
- Black framed windows create drama and a sense of urbanity
- Take license to play with the unconventional. Bed bases may be low to the floor, suitcases can be used as bedside tables or other found-objects can be dotted around the space to add interest
- Inner Urban is about open living, so ensure there is a connection through adjacent spaces.
This Laminex Urban Warehouse Kitchen features essastone in Bitumen (Igneous finish) and Laminex Colour Palette in Smoky Sapelle.
MINERAL STYLE TIPS:
- Bronze, Gold, Brass and Copper accents all work strongly as highlights or features in Mineral spaces
- Mix your metals to deepen the Mineral story – the lounge room might feature burnished gold, while bronze could be the highlight in the kitchen
- Furniture for Mineral includes low line sofas and striking occasional chairs featuring an art deco-esque metallic frame in a neutral fabric
- Make a statement from the time you enter by making a metallic feature of your front door
This Laminex Mineral Kitchen Island benchtop, base front panel and rear benchtop is essastone in Chalkstone Gloss finish with splashback featuring essastone Fino Venato Gloss finish. Cabinetry is Laminex Diamond Gloss surfaces in Black.
MODERN & CO STYLE TIPS:
- Fresh white walls, clean lines, simple cornices and square set ceilings provide the perfect base elements for the Modern & Co style
- Timber delivers an inviting contrast and built-in furniture – bookcases, and study areas – will further create a clever sense of continual space
- Ensure furniture is simple in it’s design, but it must be both inviting and comfortable
This Laminex Modern & Co Kitchen features the benchtop in essastone Cararra, paired with island and tower cabinetry featuring Laminex Finished Natural Timber Veneers in American Oak Crown Cut Mismatched finish. Rear Overhead shelving uses Laminex Diamond Gloss surfaces in Polar White and the Splashback features Laminex Metaline Splashbacks and Panels in Diamond Ice.
NATURAL STYLE TIPS:
- Medium timber tones create the core palette of the Natural style
- Flooring works best in concrete or a large format natural/honed concrete inspired tile. This limits join lines and creates a sense of space
- Furniture should be of a similar tone to your cabinetry to restrict contrast
- Use your natural environment and bring the outside in. Timber slabs used as a dining table or smaller pieces such as unique chopping boards will add impact
This Laminex Natural Bathroom vanity shelf uses essastone in Flint Igneous finish with base cabinetry, bench and wall mounted cabinet in Laminex Finished Designed Timber Veneers in Wild Pecan.
NOIR STYLE TIPS:
- Walls should be painted a dark feature shade such as black, navy, charcoal or grey – pushing the envelope of darkness without feeling oppressive
- Anchor your Noir space with dark aged timber, herringbone or concrete floors
- Instead of contrasting the walls, layer furniture and textiles in a co-ordinated dark shade adding visual interest through texture
- Noir furniture design is masculine, so look for clean lines or neat detailing like buttons or small piped cushions
This Laminex Noir Kitchen Island and rear benchtops is Laminex Impressions textured surfaces in Black Spark finish. Island, rear base, overhead and pantry door cabinetry is Laminex Colour Palette in Black with splashback in Laminex Metaline Splashbacks and Panels Black Ice.
VINTAGE STYLE TIPS:
- Don’t be afraid of colour! Vintage is all about mixing layers of colour and texture together that might. They might not seem to go together at first glance, but this eclectic mix is key so it’s worth experimenting
- Medium timber tones mixed with textured open weave fabrics and a blend of both original and current pieces to achieve balance are key
- Simple lines and non-detailed skirting and architraves should underpin your Vintage look
This Laminex Vintage Kitchen features Kitchen benchtop in essastone Chalkstone Gloss finish paired with cabinetry and kicker in Laminex Colour Palette Tornado. Shelf features Laminex Colour Palette in Elegant Oak.
ZEN STYLE TIPS:
- Layering is important for this style, so finding textural change while ensuring your base white remains the same is essential
- Small injections of warm timber tones will prevent the Zen look from feeling clinical, adding an extra level of detail without becoming a dominant feature
- Keep lines simple in furniture and lighting. Use wall and step lights where possible rather than pendants
- Add large pieces of artwork with muted tones to add dimension to the room
This Laminex Zen Kitchen rear and island benchtops feature essastone in Caolino Matt finish, all cabinetry in Laminex ColourTech Painted Doors Super White Gloss finish and splashback is Laminex Metaline Splashbacks and Panels in Diamond Ice.
Laminex Australia is a part of Fletcher Building Ltd (Laminates and Panels). Neil represents Laminex Australia with the global design team. Catherine Valente is Design Marketing Manager and she actively oversees the design direction and manages how the designs are communicated.
If you are interested in creating any of these design aesthetics from Laminex, have a chat with the KWD team.
Images courtesty of Laminex.
KWD HQ images by Brent Lukey.