Making an impact with block colour

Making an impact with block colour

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

In a new kitchen design for Laminex, interior designer and trend forecaster Bree Leech showcases the potential of designing with blocks of colour.

As we’ve noted here before, rich colour is making a welcome return to Australian interior design. “Designers are being adventurous and bold,” says designer and trends forecaster Bree Leech, “and that’s filtering through to our clients, who are also becoming increasingly colour confident.” One way this is manifesting is in the use of block colour, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms. Where we might previously have seen varied materials palettes of stone, timber veneers, laminates and other textures, designers are choosing to use one colour across multiple surfaces, making that colour a feature and creating a strong sense of cohesion.

Wall panel in Laminex Possum, light fitting in Laminex Brushed Brass, cabinetry and surface in Laminex Green Slate.

Drawing influence from the 1980s

The eighties revival appears to be one factor influencing the renewed interest in colour, and Leech points to the work of 1980s design movement Memphis, founded by Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, as a key reference. The exuberant pieces produced during that time, with their bright blocks of colour, playful patterns and eccentric forms, marked a radical departure from the dominant styles of the seventies. And now a similar approach is being translated into contemporary interior design, albeit with a little more nuance.

Leech approaches colour blocking in a range of ways, sometimes choosing one colour and using it for everything, other times working to create graphic impact with contrasting colours in geometric shapes. Her new kitchen design for Laminex, featured here, follows a third strategy, with two complementary decors combined in an elegant tonal scheme.

Wall panel in Laminex Possum, light fitting in Laminex Brushed Brass, cabinetry and surface in Laminex Green Slate.

Making colour the hero

“We wanted to keep the form quite simple to emphasise the graphic lines, so the details are subtle,” she says. There’s a rectilinear bank of cabinetry, with doors in Reverse Bevelled profile for a handless design, curved wall panelling and curved open shelving. And colour is definitely the hero. By selecting Laminex Green Slate – “such a great, greyed-off green” – for the cabinetry, benchtops and shelving, and Possum for the wall panelling, Leech has distilled her colour palette down to two shades of green, accented only by a wall light cleverly crafted with Laminex Brushed Brass. It’s a celebration of the two organic green decors, and it makes an emphatic design statement that shows how powerful block colour can be.

It also shows how easy it is to match colours across different Laminex products, with high-pressure laminate and decorated board specified for different elements in the kitchen. For Leech, who is used to designing with a diverse mix of materials, working exclusively with laminates was a refreshing, and valuable, challenge. “This is the first time I’ve worked with laminate for all the material in a kitchen, and I learnt things I hadn’t thought of before,” she says. “Laminex is perfect for colour blocking because there’s such a great colour range.”

Explore the Laminex Colour Collection and download the brochure, which contains all the decors you need to create beautiful block-colour spaces.  

Photographer: Derek Swalwell 

The Right White

The Right White

‘I want to keep it simple.  I just want white.’

As designers, we’ve all heard this before – many, many times.  White is a popular colour (or reflection of light, to be technical) –it’s a safe option for the cautious and wary, a perfect partner for outstanding architecture, and a must-have for avid art collectors. But the selection of the ‘right white’ is rarely straightforward. In this feature, we’ll explore a range of whites and see some pearler examples. 

A pure white can be used to emphasise stunning architectural features with great effect, as demonstrated in the examples below. In both cases, the designers have used the ever-popular Dulux Vivid White on both cabinetry and walls.

In the wrong application, however, pure whites can have some drawbacks in interior applications. With its light-reflective properties, a pure white can be overwhelmingly bright, and a genuine need for sunglasses could compromise your best design intentions! A pure white can also lead to pricey painting touch-ups: when all trades have finished their fit offs and inevitably marked your crisp white walls, your painter will be working hard to get seamless coverage with a virtually un-tinted paint.

A tinted or ‘off-white’ tone, on the other hand, will help you avoid these dilemmas without losing the ‘all-white-vibe’. Following are a few tips for finding the right white for your client.

Determine the Undertone

All colours comprise a ‘mass tone’ and an ‘undertone’.  A mass tone is the colour that you see right away, while an undertone is the characteristic of a hue that is often concealed when the colour is viewed in isolation.  A true blue, for example, will have a mass colour of blue and an undertone very similar in hue.  A turquoise, on the other hand, will have a mass colour of blue and an undertone of green.  The same theory applies to off-whites – while the mass tone is white, the undertone could be red, orange, yellow or brown (warm), green (cool/warm), blue (cool) or black/grey (neutral).  When looking at a colour swatch on its own, it may certainly appear to be white.  Put the same colour alongside another, however, and the effect could be vastly different.  If the undertone of the white clashes with the undertones of hues around it, a ‘safe’ colour scheme can turn bad very quickly!  The easiest way to determine the undertone is to place the selected colour alongside a ‘real’ white (try your brightest copy paper).  You’ll immediately see a faint yellow, pink, blue or other colour, and you’ll have identified your undertone.

When you’ve established the undertone, you can work out which of the following categories the proposed selection fits into, and which will best suit your client’s overall scheme.

Warm Whites

Red, orange, yellow and brown-based whites are best for rooms that need ‘warming up’ (with a southern orientation, for example).  Warm whites sit well with earthy, natural hues, and as they are more inclined to ‘come forward’ in a room (remember warm colours come forward, cool colours recede), they help to create a cozy feel.

Perth designer, Maggie Milligan, nestled White Satin cabinetry amidst Dulux Antique White USA walls in this warm and homely kitchen.

Melbourne designer, Olivia Cirocca, combined the warmth of Dulux Dieskau cabinetry with Dulux Natural White walls in this classy kitchen.

Cool Whites

Blue undertones will make a white appear icy and cool – perfect for west or north-facing rooms that need ‘cooling down’.  They are generally described as ‘crisp and clean’, and suit contemporary styling and minimalistic schemes.

Dulux Lexicon Quarter was applied to the walls and cabinetry in this ultra-cool kitchen by Melbourne designer, Kia Howat.

Dulux Lexicon Quarter cabinetry is crisp and clean in this smart space, designed by Brisbane’s Estelle Cameron.

Neutral Whites

Grey-based whites are popular for their cool, architectural qualities.  When the undertone sits between grey and beige, a warmer effect is created.

Brisbane designer, Ashley Maddison, used Resene Alabaster in this award-winning beauty.

Warm/Cool – Chameleons

Green-based whites will often ‘morph’ with their surroundings.  The green undertone is made up of blue (cool) and yellow (warm), and the colours will change depending on light quality and/or surrounding furnishings.  Of course, a very yellow-green undertone will appear warmer, and a bluish-green undertone will appear cooler, but somewhere in the middle will prove popular for many.

Bonlex Classic White cabinetry sits sweetly alongside Dulux Snowy Mountain half walls in this stunning kitchen by Perth designer, Glenda Roff.

Do you have a favourite go-to white? Have you got a hot tip for finding the right white? Feel free to share your comments below.

Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

Created from a photograph of a beautiful piece of salvaged timber, Planked Urban Oak joins Laminex’s collection of highly realistic woodgrain decors.

We can identify any number of reasons why architects and designers are drawn to reclaimed timbers: the warmth and character that comes to timber with age, for example; the emphasis on recycling and sustainability, and the provenance of building materials; the connection to ideas of craftsmanship and authenticity. But Laminex Product Design Manager Neil Sookee sums it up neatly in one short sentence: “It’s the story of imperfection.” A new addition to Laminex’s Woodgrains palette, Planked Urban Oak celebrates the flawed beauty of its source wood, a single piece of salvaged oak, employing the latest production technology to recreate with incredible realism the colour, fibre detail and subtle marks made in the wood over the years – “those checks and splits that develop over time, and the yellowing that comes with exposure to the sun and elements.”

Capturing the true character of aged woodgrain

This approach of realistically rendering the unique qualities of the source wood, common across the Laminex Woodgrains palette and only made possible by advances in digital imaging and engraving techniques, is quite distinct from the flawless appearance often associated with new timber veneers. Sookee refers to the process as the “authentic imitation of genuinely aged material”, and it’s something of a mantra for what Laminex seeks to achieve in all of its imitation decors. “Nature is imperfect, so if you’re reflecting on a piece of material found in nature, then you represent it honestly,” says Sookee. “It’s about taking inspiration from gracefully aged materials – that are almost like found objects – rather than trying to artificially create the look.”

Bringing the look of reclaimed timber to more design projects

The benefit for architects and designers is that it makes it more feasible to bring the look and feel of reclaimed timber into more interiors, because not every project can accommodate the resources required to find the perfect piece of salvaged timber. And by its very nature, the timbers are only available in limited quantities. 

In the case of Planked Urban Oak, the work of finding that perfect timber has already been done by the product design team who, according to Sookee, “will search far and wide to find buildings and structures anywhere they can for inspiration. And then there’s a real skill in being able to develop separations for something that’s beautiful, in a way that delivers the realism they’re looking for.” But once that work is done, the unique beauty of that original plank of oak can be captured in interior spaces again and again, no longer a limited resource.

Planked Urban Oak is available in low-sheen, smooth Natural finish. It’s also offered in the new low-gloss, tactile Chalk finish, which adds additional realism and highlights the source wood’s intrinsic character.

Laminex Planked Urban Oak is available now, order a sample here.

Blue Beauties

Blue Beauties

Colour therapists say that blue hues can produce positivity, productivity and efficiency, and who doesn’t need these three traits when they’re in their kitchen? We love the blues that made their way into this year’s KBDi Designer Awards, and share four of our faves in this feature.

Adelaide designer, Nathan Wundersitz CKD Au, used a stunning combination of midnight blue with an oh-so-pretty pink in this kitchen. Taubmans describe their ‘Black Flame’ hue as ‘a statement-making black, infused with an undertone of the deepest indigo to create an unashamedly chameleon-like colour’

Brisbane designer, Ashley Maddison, used Laminex ‘Deep Sea’ to great effect in this blue beauty. Brushed brass hardware sits beautifully against the sea-blue backdrop, and the prettily-patterned tiles add ‘blue and white delight’ to this character-filled kitchen.

Dulux ‘Superstar’ adds a bright-blue-bang to this beautiful kitchen by Melbourne designer, Vanessa Cook. This bold colour adds a contemporary twist to the more traditional, shaker-style cabinet doors, creating a vibrant yet homely space.

Dulux ‘Academic Blue’ was an intelligent choice for New South Wales designer, Andrew Wright CKD Au, CBD Au. We love the blue and white contrast of this small kitchen, and the brushed gold details that add the perfect hint of glamour.

Laminex and Dulux®: A colour partnership

Laminex and Dulux®: A colour partnership

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

Two of Australia’s biggest design brands have launched a palette of paired colourways, so it’s now easier than ever to create seamless interiors.

A guiding principle for new product development at Laminex is to provide architects and designers with surface materials that work together seamlessly. Decorative boards with different properties can be specified in the same decors, for example, ABS edging is supplied in matching colours, and cohesive palettes are created across the Laminex and Essastone ranges to guide colour choice. Now, thanks to an exclusive partnership with Dulux, this philosophy extends to paint selection: thirty-one whites and neutrals and eleven accent colours from the Laminex range have been paired with equivalent colours from the Dulux paints range.

Laminex Design Marketing Manager Catherine Valente explains the rationale behind the initiative. “Laminex and Dulux are both industry-leading brands in colour and decor. In fact, Laminex laminates and Dulux paints are specified together more often than not,” she says. “So it made sense for us to help designers bring them together as seamlessly as possible.” 

Image: Laminex Lava Grey paired with Dulux Klute

A full palette of whites, neutrals and accent colours

The forty-two Laminex decors were selected to provide a spectrum of contemporary colours, beginning with whites. “Australia loves white, Dulux is known for its strength in whites and so is Laminex, so it was obviously a key colour to get right,” says Valente. “As part of our work on the new Laminex White Series, we identified a small number of gaps in depth and tone that needed to be filled in our range. In the Dulux palette, they corresponded to Dulux Lexicon®, Dulux Lexicon Half-Strength and Snowy MountainsQuarter, so we created three new decors to pair with them – Laminex Calm White, Laminex Chalk White and Laminex White Linen.” A fourth new white decor, Laminex French Cream, has been launched to pair with one of Australia’s most well-known whites, Dulux Hog Bristle®.

The rest of the palette, however, was built from within the existing Laminex range, with samples of each selected decor sent to Dulux so they could identify the paint colours that were closest in tone. As Michael Rowe, Manager – Colour Services at Dulux, explains, his team had no shortage of options to consider. “The Dulux World of Colour Atlas has 5,000 colours in it, so we can get very close to just about any colour,” he says. “The pairings we’ve achieved here are very good. We have a grading system for colour matches and these would all be at the high end of our scale.”

Image: Laminex Green Slate paired with Dulux Spiralina.

One of the highlights of the full palette is the presence of several solid-colour decors from the new Laminex Landscapes Series, including green neutral Laminex Seed paired with Dulux Still, grey neutral Laminex Spinifex paired with Dulux Coalition, and deep thundercloud-grey Laminex Stormcloud paired with Dulux Western Myall. The list of accent colours includes soft pastel Laminex Aquamarine paired with Dulux Icelandish Quarter, bright orange Laminex Mandarin paired with Dulux Exotic Flower and bold Laminex Pillarbox paired with Dulux Fiery Red.

Image: Laminex French Navy paired with Dulux Pacific Line

Tonal interiors palettes and complementary colours

The partnership comes at a time when there’s a strong design movement towards tonal interiors palettes, with matching colours applied to different surfaces. As Valente points out, the effect of these palettes in changing the perception of space and creating the illusion of continuity of materiality will now be much easier to achieve. “A slight shade difference between walls and surfaces can throw an entire project off, but that’s no longer an issue for these paired colourways,” she says. “All of the validation work has been done, so designers can specify their preferred Dulux colour and Laminex decor and be confident that they’ll work beautifully together.” And of course, this will come with all the advantages of using low-pressure melamine over alternatives such as painted cabinetry doors, particularly cost-effectiveness, suitability for largescale commercial projects, and superior durability and performance. 

Image: Laminex Just Rose paired with Dulux Lilac Hint

But the benefits aren’t confined to tonal interiors. Both Laminex and Dulux offer tools and guidance for building complementary palettes across multiple products. For Laminex, this includes everything from solid colours to woodgrains to Essastone engineered stone. So any of the paired laminates and paints can be the starting point for an entire colour scheme. And with Laminex and Dulux committed to expanding the palette of paired paints and laminates, these possibilities will only grow.

 Explore the full list of paired Laminex decors and Dulux paint colours here.