How Surface Design Show 2024 shone the spotlight on sustainability

InsightFeatures Thu 22nd Feb 2024 by Amelia Thorpe

How Surface Design Show 2024 shone the spotlight on sustainability

How Surface Design Show 2024 shone the spotlight on sustainability

Feature by Amelia Thorpe | Thu 22nd Feb 2024

Amelia is an award-winning journalist, specialising in kitchens, bathrooms, interiors and design. She has contributed to many leading national publications, and has written about the kitchen and bathroom business for more than 15 years. More

This year's Surface Design Show, which took place at London's Business Design Centre from 6th - 8th February, demonstrated how recycled products and clever initiatives are top of the current agenda – Amelia Thorpe reports.

Billed as the material innovation event of choice for architects and designers, the annual Surface Design Show played host to around 180 exhibitors who were displaying their wares, with an unmissable focus on sustainability across the exhibition this year.

"Sustainability and environmental considerations are no longer optional, they are mandatory – essential to our future," says Diane Barnes, president North America, The Good Plastic Company, which manufactures recycled plastic Polygood, suitable for use as bathroom counters, shower walls, panelling and vanities. Other recycled plastic options at the Show included those from Swansea-based manufacturer Smile Plastics, launching The Earth Collection in colourways inspired by the Welsh landscape. Says founder and MD Rosalie McMillan: "By incorporating these surfaces, you not only bring nature indoors but also contribute to a healthier, circular manufacturing process – a crucial step for our built-environment’s sustainability."

6 colour options in Smile Plastics’ new Earth surface collection, made from recycled plastic

Surface Matter is a distributor of materials including Durat solid surface made from post-industrial recycled plastics, paper-based Richlite material, recycled plastic Plasticiet panels and Pierreplume acoustic panelling made from 70% recycled textiles. The company proclaimed ‘change shouldn’t mean waste’ in a large sign on its stand, launching its ‘material rescue’ service designed to avoid its products ending up in landfill at the end of their useful life. By taking back materials and collecting off cuts, Surface Matter plans to re-purpose and recycle materials in innovative ways via its network of manufacturers.

Surface Matter’s stand at the Surface Design Show in London

In a similar vein, supplier CDUK unveiled Vita Nova, another take-back and repurposing solution. "Vita Nova allows us to divert waste materials from landfill to our workshop and give them a new life," says Andy Noble, MD of CDUK. "For example, we have taken back large quantities of Corian Solid Surface, its properties make it an ideal surface material for repurposing, as it can easily be repaired, formed and reused for a new purpose."

CDUK’s Vita Nova is a take back and repurposing solution designed to extend the life of surface materials

Solid surface brand Hanex showcased 10 new colours, including Cascade Wave, in which waste from manufacturing is used in the product and rain water is used for manufacturing. The company will be launching a recycled solid surface range, made with offcut and waste solid surface, currently going through testing. "We are hoping that we will be able to recycle any solid surface, not just Hanex – it could change the industry," says Hanex UK business development manager Brian Haggarty.

Cascade Wave solid surface from Hanex

"How do you reduce your impact?" proclaimed another large sign, this one from Unilin, exhibiting its Master Oak scratch, stain and UV resistant panels, made from 95% recycled wood and ‘First in the world to recycle MDF and HDF’ according to the company.

Tall and base cabinets in Unilin Master Oak melamine faced panels, made from 95% recycled wood

Other brands catching the eye for sustainable products included Japanese brand, Cipango, for its Tatinoya woven wood fabric suitable for upholstery, as well as CDUK for a tabletop made from PaperStone Charcoal, produced from FSC certified recycled paper and natural resin. Foresso ‘timber terrazzo’ is made from waste wood combined with non-toxic formaldehyde free binder, suitable for kitchen and bathroom floors and countertops. A shout out, too, for ReCinder, a 100% recycled material made from discarded ceramic and waste ash, designed as a greener alternative to industrially processed clay. It is suitable for tiling, furniture and tableware – and particularly lighting, thanks to its unusual translucent quality.

Light made from ReCinder by Rosy Napper, showing off the translucent quality of this recycled material made from discarded ceramic and waste ash

Custom acrylic specialist Midton showcased its Remade reclaimed acrylic in a range of lamp bases designed by Scottish artist Iona Crawford. Says Midton MD Craig Cameron, familiar with working with architects and designers across a wide range of sectors, "Sustainable credentials are now crucial – you can’t sign off jobs now unless you have them."

Foresso timber terrazzo worktops and splash back in a kitchen designed by Pluck | Photographer: Malcolm Menzies

Tags: insight, features, surface design show, surfaces, sustainability

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