Trends: Advances in Quartz

by Kacey Larsen
Venatino from the Exotic Collection

Ask a quartz surfacing manufacturer how they track and predict trends, and you’ll get a wide array of responses. While the feedback on current residential design trends was fairly similar across the board, as one would expect, the paths to such trends—including how products are designed and manufactured, where and how surfacing is being used in a home, and how to help professionals help clients with their decision making—are where quartz surfacing manufacturers differentiate themselves. We delve into the latest introductions and where the market is headed.

Caesarstone

“One of the things we pride ourselves on at Caesarstone is not just following the trends but creating a trend. We look at these 10- to 15-year ‘influencers’ that drive the trends. When we’re looking at what we bring into the kitchen space, we’re looking back to what are some of the prevailing influences impacting consumers, and some of those are the return to very natural things, a return to simplicity and a kind of antique consumerism,” explains Nick Harris, vice president of marketing at Caesarstone U.S. “We look at these industrial, economic and macro trend influencers, and dial them down to color and design trends and where are they coming from. Are they all coming from Europe or from Asia? Many trends we see now are coming from the domestic markets here in the U.S. [Caesarstone] looks at all those as part of our process, and hopefully our designs and colors reflect our ability to not only influence but reflect on some of these trends and influences.”

A few of the trends currently on Caesarstone’s radar, Harris notes, are an ongoing push for nature-inspired looks as well as a trend toward rugged and rougher textured surfaces, which the company’s launch of Rugged Concrete addresses. He also sees the white and gray palette warming up, which may be a response to “younger people coming into the market.” As for where it’s going, metallic, mixed metals, rusted surfaces and distressed wood are Caesarstone’s predictions for upcoming trends.

Caesarstone

Caesarstone

 

In response to some of these surfacing trends as well as the ongoing mixing of materials, Caesarstone launched Perfect Pairings, a tool to help professionals and consumers understand and bring together materials and colors. Harris explains this can help the visualization of how to pair, for example, wood and quartz together.

Additionally, the company has done work with virtual and augment reality, including demonstrations at its Kitchen & Bath Industry Show booth earlier this year. That said, nothing beats seeing and touching a quartz slab in person, Harris notes. “We really encourage remodelers to take their clients to a stone supplier or a stone yard where they can see a full slab, [and] they can say, ‘Yep, that’s what I want in my home.’ Because it’s important, we believe, for both the remodeler and consumer to fully appreciate the complexity of some of these designs. You can look on the web, you can download it on your phone, but sometimes the best way of doing it is going to meet in person,” he explains. “It’s important to try to help people understand what their homes are going to look like with great big slabs of these designs.”

In addition to its factory in Richmond Hill, Georgia, and headquarters in Northridge, California, Caesarstone materials are available throughout the country through its own showrooms and distribution partners. Harris notes, “Instant gratification is important,” so the company has tightened its process, from measurement to installation, to about 10 days. Custom pieces and certain finishes, he adds, may have a slightly longer timeline.

“As we’ve mentioned, part of what makes Caesarstone really special is the effort that goes into the designs and the complexities of those; the research and development that goes into creating things that we believe are both timeless and on trend—and believe me getting timeless and on trend is a bit of an art,” he says. “We stand behind our products for life—it’s built into our brand.”

Cambria

Sumer Kath, senior vice president of business development at Cambria, is responsible for designing all the company’s products and leading its direction. While she notes a team of engineers is responsible for actually translating her vision into a quartz countertop, Kath travels the world, seeking inspiration. “I do dream boards and sit down [to] explain the vision to our engineers, and they literally have to figure out how to get the equipment to do it,” she explains. “Therefore at Cambria, we’ve completely pioneered and invented our own technology to do some of the depth, the veining, the tones and the tricks that we do.”

The white marbled look with the performance attributes of quartz has been on the uptick for the last five years, Kath observes, and isn’t slowing down. A few European trends—namely more opulent designs and more black—are starting to seep into U.S. designs as is a desire for more color and matte finishes. While Cambria plans to launch another collection to accommodate some of the evolving trends—featuring organic, exotic looks and more warm whites—within months, the company launched a maintenance-free matte finish earlier this year.

Cambria quartz

Cambria

 

Balancing current trends with the durability of quartz can be a challenge. “We have to keep in mind that countertops are very permanent, especially if you’re putting in a quartz countertop. It will last forever [or] until you get sick of it. People, on the majority, are not going to put in an opulent purple. For me, it’s finding ways of taking those trends of the opulent and the dark coming in and how do they complement the designs we put out for the future,” she says. “Everybody is different in their tastes, and I think design is becoming more personal and people are taking more risks [by] not doing what everybody else is doing. I really love that. [Cambria] has over 140 designs, and we continue to add and never take away because we really want to be the go-to, one-stop shop for everybody.”

While Kath says the No. 1 thing is for everyone to see a sample, Cambria has launched two design tools—Cambria AR and DragonVision—to help professionals and homeowners visualize and plan spaces. Using Apple ARKit technology, Cambria AR is an augmented reality app that can virtually map countertops and overlay Cambria designs in a  home enviroment. DragonVision is an interactive design tool that allows users to select from three kitchen styles and apply over 50 of the company’s designs. The design suite also allows for the mixing and matching of countertop designs, cabinets, edge profiles and paint colors. Once a decision has been made in the design phase, Kath notes it is an average of a 14-day turnaround from template to install.

Along with the additional design tools, Kath says Cambria is focused on education when it comes to the quartz market. “There is really no governing body right now on what it means to be a quartz countertop surface, and that’s something we’re trying to change. Some of the things coming in—we call it ‘adulterated quartz’—are being offered at half the price and do not have the same performance attributes,” she explains. “I think there is an assurance [from] us saying we’re an American-made product that is completely safe and lives up to everything that quartz is supposed to be. That’s an education process  we’re going down the path [of] right now—knowing what it is that you’re putting in your home and where it came from.”

Cosentino

Silestone by Cosentino

Silestone by Cosentino

 

Silestone by Cosentino sees neutrals continuing to be a trend. Solid colors, like its Iconic White and Iconic Black, remain popular, but Massimo Ballucchi, marketing director for Cosentino North America, anticipates more natural looking quartz surfacing drawing attention. “We’ve received great feedback on colors like Silestone Calcutta Gold, which is white with gold veining; Charcoal Soapstone, which imitates the look of a natural soapstone; and Silestone Marquina, an evocation of black Marquina marble. These colors make more of a statement than a solid color,” he says.

Additionally, the company is seeing an increased demand for matte finishes. Silestone calls its matte finish Suede, and it’s available for 26 Silestone colors, including the entirety of its Silestone Eternal Series. The finish provides a softer appearance with little reflection, and the surface remains smooth to the touch.

Though Cosentino launched Silestone 27 years ago, it certainly is not done with innovating, as further evidenced with the introduction of N-Boost technology this year. Ballucchi explains the technology “provides greater color saturation and extraordinary luster, along with an enhanced water repellent property that makes [the surfacing] even easier to clean and maintain.” Silestone N-Boost modifies the surface of quartz at a molecular level to make it nonporous and further increase its durability and ability to resist stains, scratches and impact.

Hanwha Surfaces

To say there has been a lot going on at Hanwha Surfaces is an understatement. At time of publication, the company had just produced its first test slab off its new quartz manufacturing line in Canada, using the latest Breton technology. Additionally, the company is building a solid surface facility in Temple, Texas, which is slated to start manufacturing in July of 2018. “That makes us one of a very small handful of surfacing providers that manufacture both materials—quartz and solid surface—then that field shrinks even more when you talk about manufacturing them both in North America,” says Steve Becker, Hanwha Surfaces’ vice president of sales and marketing. “I’m really happy all of our material, with really minor exceptions, is going to be right here, so that will enable us to service our customers really instantly—a loaded statement, but it should be almost always in stock and available nationwide.”

A key benefit the new quartz manufacturing facility introduces is its use of four robotic arms. “It enables you to do a lot more complexity with the slabs and get more creative design wise,” Becker explains. “You can create what looks like a dimensional slab with this technology.” This new technology will also enable HanStone Quartz to move further toward Becker’s goal of “staying beyond trend.”

HanStone Quartz

HanStone Quartz

 

“In the residential market, it’s a lot of the veining colors and then the more contemporary colors. Grays especially seem to be gaining steam, if you will; everybody seems to want the concrete look. We’re adding more of a leather finish to our colors—which doesn’t show dirt quite as much and is easier to clean—but it’s definitely in that matte family,” he says. “What I’d like to try to do [is] jump ahead and really be able to mimic some of the natural stones—quartzites and things like that. That’s what I think the market wants because those products are actually very expensive, but if we could make them in quartz with the performance characteristics and price point, that would be the goal.

“We look for inspiration in our colors and design trends all over. We’re looking at textiles, paint kits, rocks, cars and you name it. Again, to not just mimic what’s hot, but to create some things that are unique,” Becker continues. “That’s a process we’re delving deeply into and another thing that’s changing with us. We’re really making significant investments in color consultants, designers and people who can help us make the leap ahead.”

HanStone Quartz manufactures most of its slabs in jumbo sizes. Becker notes the slabs should cover “all but the most gigantic islands,” thus preventing a visible seam in most applications. The company keeps an eye on where else quartz is being used, which currently includes vanities and shower surrounds primarily.

Hanwha Surfaces has committed to offering new and additional tools that can help consumers and professionals, starting with a redesign of the company’s website. Becker says the company is also redesigning and developing collateral materials, such as its literature. Samples are available through the website and sales reps, and remodelers can get their hands on a sample box and/or display towers for showrooms; plus the company provides material for a national big box store.

“We’re going to be a partner that is going to try to stay ahead of the curve for you and give you some unique colors and patterns moving forward that are going to help your business,” he adds. “And we’re going to continue to create marketing and sales collateral—the new website, those sample boxes and those types of things. We want to make it easy for our customers to sell our product.”

LG Hausys

LG Hausys: quartz trends

LG Hausys

 

Both the product management team and the design team at LG Hausys expressed their respective viewpoints on current quartz trends. The LG Hausys design team points to nature as its design inspiration, noting the “main reason for this is because nature helps people feel comfortable. We, as humans, decorate our spaces with the most comfortable and familiar materials, and we want our products to become those materials for our customers. The second reason is because nature is a unique identity. Like there are no two identical pieces of pebble, all forms of nature gain a new identity to each person who perceives them.” 

The LG Hausys product management team says, “Each region or age group prefers different designs in their kitchen. Some prefer the kitchen island to pop up from their kitchen with strong contrasts in colors, and some prefer it to blend in their kitchen design. LG Hausys is trying to accommodate each need by supplying diverse product, from traditional to modern design.”

While the teams observe design trend shifts in both the kitchen and bathroom spaces—including the move from transitional toward contemporary and modern design—they expect current quartz colors and patterns are not going to change anytime soon. A technical development, noted by the product management team, allows LG Hausys’ Viatera quartz line to expand with the Masterpiece Collection, a long-vein patterned product. Additionally, the company is transitioning its size offerings to jumbo, which, according to the product management team, will allow for seamless design for island and wall applications.

LG Hausys produces its Viatera Quartz surface materials in Adairsville, Georgia, and has 12 direct distribution centers across the country. A variety of marketing tools, technical data, fabrication guide, warranty information and more are available on the company’s website. Samples are available by contacting LG Hausys directly.

Vicostone USA

Because of its headquarters and manufacturing being located in Hà Nôi, Vietnam, Vicostone USA Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jason Easterday notes the company takes a global perspective when it comes to trends, especially since “Vicostone is available on every continent.” The company utilizes Breton technology for its manufacturing, which Easterday describes as being “globally renowned as the highest standard of making quartz.” While Vicostone has only been in the U.S. for six or seven years, the company has made its presence known with a U.S. headquarters in Dallas; three additional regional hubs in Chicago, Atlanta and Houston; and a third-party network of more than 40 distributors across the country. Easterday believes that being newer to the U.S. quartz market is actually a benefit to the company and, by extension, its customers.

“One of the advantages of being the ‘new kid on the block’ is you can learn from your predecessors. When you pulse the market, you can find out, No. 1, what have your competitors done well, but also, No. 2, where have they fallen short, and what importance does that hold to our customer service and our client as we build our brand?” he says. “Availability obviously is a big concern, and we at Vicostone make sure—whether it’s our distributors or whether it’s our own hubs—we have material available as much as possible.”

Vicostone USA quartz island

Vicostone USA

 

The most common colors and patterns being selected are whites, grays, and marble- and limestone-looking colors in warmer tones. He also notes the move toward open living spaces—often with an island—as creating further opportunity for quartz surfacing due to its flexibility and low maintenance.

“Another trend we’re seeing is people starting to use more stone in their kitchen—on an island [with] a waterfall edge. We’re starting to see a lot more stone on the outer cabinets [with] full-height backsplashes, where the stone goes all the way up the wall to the cabinetry,” he says. “If I were to answer how remodelers can help [clients] with their vision, my advice would be: If you want to expand how you can use the product, think beyond the kitchen and the countertops.” Easterday points to applications such as custom tub and surrounds, wall cladding, shelving and flooring as examples.

Wilsonart

Wilsonart Design Manager Natalia Smith sees design inspiration and innovation coming from a blurring of individual experiences and backgrounds, which are driving consumer selections more than in the past. “It’s a really fun time in design because the consumer now has the ‘permission’ to curate their space to speak to them personally. Past design rules were a little more stringent and uptight,” she says. “Current design trends revolve around attainable luxury in the realms of easy maintenance, color, material and scale, and will continue into the new year.”

To meet the demand for “attainable luxury,” Wilsonart expanded its Quartz Collection earlier this year with eight new patterns: Empire State, Manhattan, Vesuvius, Lazio, Versailles, Tellaro, Marrara and Lucca. Smith notes the additions needed to be timeless colors that pair with quartz’s durability. “The new designs take cues from marble, concrete and reflective metals to give spaces a luxurious and personalized touch. From bright white and understated gray to deep charcoal and bold black, [they] achieve the design intent often found in hotel lobbies and chic office spaces, to bathroom vanities and kitchen countertops,” she explains. “Neutrals this year and next year will consist of white, gray, taupe and black.”

Lazio quartz collection

 

Lazio

Lucca quartz collection

 

Lucca

Vesuvius quartz collection

 

Vesuvius

The continuing popularity of neutrals lends itself to the rise in mixing materials throughout the kitchen. Visual interest and texture can be created through “starting with a neutral quartz design, adding in a warm wood laminate and sometimes throwing in a pop of color in places like the backsplash, sink and even cabinets,” Smith says. Jumbo size slabs eliminate the need for multiple seams and also optimize design capabilities. Six jumbo size designs are available in two sizes and 2- or 3-centimeter thicknesses.

Smith explains the company offers remodelers a variety of technical resources on its website. Its website also has tools to “find a rep” as well as a “where to buy” feature to find nearby distributors and certified fabricators. Wilsonart Quartz is available within two-to-three weeks from order. “Our quartz is backed by reliable customer service and nationwide availability,” Smith adds. |QR

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