10 November 2011

Seeing solid surface in a new light

In the last 11 months I've been fortunate to attend nearly 20 trade venues in six countries and in each of those venues I've seen such things that I thought my eyes were deceiving me half the time. Due to my experiences in Europe in particular, I've come to see solid surface in a whole new way. This post is illustrated with sinks and vanities designed by Marike Andeweg  and her Netherlands-based studio, Not Only White. Not Only White's work is a great example of using solid surface in a new, and stunning way.


Throughout my design career, I'd been conditioned to turn up my nose at solid surface whenever and wherever I saw it. I'm old enough to remember when Corian hit the market and I still cringe at the thought of coral-colored Corian with white swirls.


When I started designing kitchens, the move to granite counters was just getting underway and anyone who was designing then pushed stone over solid surface in our quests to deliver high-end designs. My solid surface sample boxes sat unloved and unused for years.

My bias against solid surface seemed hard-wired.


But a funny thing happened as I was walking around at IMM in Cologne last January. There was solid surface everywhere. There were counters of course, but also furniture, sinks, vanities and more accessories than I could count.


A couple of weeks later in Spain I saw solid surface toilets and bathtubs. The stuff was all over Europe it seemed. I saw Not Only White's brilliant sinks and vanities at 100% Design in London's Earl's Court in September. I was in London as part of the inaugural Blog Tour and by then my knee-jerk, bad reaction to solid surface was but a memory and I could appreciate the beauty of Not Only White's products.


And they are beautiful. They use solid surface in a way that makes jaded design people like me stop and think, "Oooooh, what's that?" I love the idea that their hand washing sinks are so small, that their vanity sinks are so shallow and use interesting drains and I love the simplicity of all of it.


To see the rest of Not Only White's collections, check out their website and give some thought to what's possible with solid surface.


21 comments:

  1. Solid surface = plastic, and composites like Caesarstone?
    They look lovely. I particularly like the convex basin in the fourth picture down.

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  2. I'm pretty keen on composites too but they can't be worked and molded into shapes. There's a time and a place for all of these materials and none of them should be dismissed automatically. The sink you admire does have a terrific shape and I can't think of another material that could pull that off.

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  3. These are great Paul. I have to admit when I read the title of your post I though you were going to be talking about some of the solid surface sinks that have a back-lighting feature. I saw several of the at KBIS this year.

    Solid surface has come a long way since "coral coloured swirls". SOme of the new Corian colours are "almost" stone-like.

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  4. Backlit solid surface sinks? That doesn't sound too promising. That new stone series from Corian is pretty cool and I wrote about it here at some point and I noticed that the success of that line has led the rest of the manufacturers to pursue a similar path. When other manufacturers start knocking you off, that's how you know you're a success.

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  5. Re: Backlighting ...

    Judge for yourself - http://www.usefulspaces.net/2011/05/kbis-2011-day-two-highlights.html (second picture down)

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  6. Well I have to say that the sink from Toto looks better than I thought it would. Pulling off LED in a tasteful manner can be a tough one and Toto did it.

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  7. Love, love, love ... and I don't use that word to describe too many things. I am particularly fond of when the bowl and counter top and completely integrated

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  8. I'm right there with you and materials that can pull that off are rare indeed. Can anything do it but solid surface? I know you can do it with quartz composites and natural stone but only to an extent, the joints are always the weak spots with those other materials.

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  9. Love those sinks! I was never a fan of granite, quartz at the most. Always loved hard surfaces but I agree with you, the swirls were scary!
    Great post Paul.

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  10. Do you remember the flowers and hanging garden chair at IDS 2011 that were made from white Corian? They were SO cool. And there were white Corian bathtubs too, which looked so luxurious and sexy. Kind of like carnations, solid surfaces don't deserve the bad rap that they get :-)

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  11. I do remember that chair. Do you remember who made it? I agree wholeheartedly. For some reason, North American designers tend to reject the whole category but it definitely deserves a second and third look.

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  12. Solid surfaces make perfectly sense to me for maintenance. :) The sinks appear to be shallow. Are they? -Brenda- aka mrsben

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  13. I can so relate to your comment about coming into the biz along with granite. When I started, we were really pushing Corian and quartz composites were just evolving. Granite was the step up. We've so many choices nowadays and the man-made stuff has evolved into many directions that I feel there is something redeemable in all of it (well except for laminate --but that too has evolved-- I just can't wrap my head around it).

    For my impending kitchen remodel, I've narrowed it down to ----drum role---- acrylic solid surface. Why? Aside from cost, I like the install that doesn't require a sub top and will therefore be at least a half inch lower than anything else I could use on the same cabinets. We are shorter at my house and a half inch is significant. It's also nonporous and doesn't require periodic sealing.

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  14. Watch what you say about laminates and check out the post that followed this one. Undermount sinks with laminate counters, believe it!

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  15. Brenda: Sorry I missed your comment earlier. Yes, they are shallow. That's a function of the evolving ways that people use lavatory sinks and the lack of splash from low-flow faucets with aerators built into them.

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  16. I particularly like the solid surface against a textured surface...nice look. I also wondered about how shallow they were too, but saw your comment about aerators.

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  17. Shallow sinks are all the rage right now, just be careful the faucet you pair them with!

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  18. Thank you Paul. -Brenda- aka mrsben
    P.S: Having the occasional problem posting comments unless 'anonymous' Just not computer savy enough to figure out why. :)

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  19. Where can I get these?

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  20. On the other side of the Atlantic...

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