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.

Shades of grey with a touch of timber

Shades of grey with a touch of timber

Warm tones of timber alongside various shades of grey were popular combinations in the KBDi Designer Awards program of 2019. In this feature, we’re sharing just a few of our favourite grey and timber combos.

Timber, white and charcoal were combined to great effect in this stunning kitchen design (St James Whitting). White storm benchtops sit beautifully with charcoal-coloured cabinets, with the pairing brought together by a stunning Calacatta marble splashback. Charcoal-stained floors unify the interior, while oak veneer adds warmth and homeliness to this special space.

Sharp geometric details amidst a black and white scheme were a winner for Tasmanian designer, Lydia Maskiell. The almost-black cabinetry and white and grey-veined benchtop are balanced beautifully with a concrete-look floor, while Tasmanian Oak detailing adds interest and warmth.

Victoria’s Lindsay Williams CKD Au (Mint Kitchen Group) played with several shades of grey in this stunning kitchen design. A textured white splashback adds brightness to the room, while Tassie Oak tones add a homely appeal.

Victoria’s Sam Robinson CKD Au, CBD Au, took out the State title of KBDi Bathroom Designer of the Year VIC with this beautiful bathroom. We love the textural interest of the Grey Oak laminate, and the welcoming warmth of the well-planned lighting.

Fresh perspective: Looking at Laminex through an emerging designer’s eyes

Fresh perspective: Looking at Laminex through an emerging designer’s eyes

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

Two kitchens by award-winning young designer Olivia Cirocco show new ways to capture the look of metallics, woodgrain and natural stone with high-quality laminate.

 Interior designer Olivia Cirocco, from GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens, had a night to remember at last year’s KBDI Awards – the first-time entrant took home seven of them! A team from Laminex was also there, as major sponsors of the KBDI. They were deep in development work on the new Laminex Colour Collection at the time, and collectively wondered what this emerging designer might do with the decors they’d soon be launching. That speculation became a conversation with Cirocco, and a new project was born – the designer was given two kitchen briefs and the full run of the Colour Collection.

Tinted metallics, muted greens and woodgrains

“Pink and green is my favourite colour combination at the moment,” says Cirocco, explaining her rationale for bringing together soft pink metallic Laminex Matte Rose Gold and yellow-green Seed, in what’s been dubbed the Colour Collection Kitchen. The tinted metallic decor wraps around the top and bottom edges of an island bench clad in Laminex Raw Birchply. Between the upper band of Matte Rose Gold and the woodgrain decor, there’s a finely detailed shadowline in rich grey-based blue Laminex Winter Sky. “Winter Sky is quite a deep blue with green undertones so it provides great contrast against the Matte Rose Gold,” says Cirocco, “and it makes the metallic pop just that bit more.” The dark blue also helps to bring out the darker tones in the Raw Birchply’s woodgrain pattern.

Cirocco’s use of Raw Birchply extends to the benchtop itself, making a feature of the woodgrain in a way that wouldn’t be practical with real plywood, due to its susceptibility to water damage and general wear and tear. Combined with the recessed kicker, metallic edging and shadowline detail, it creates an impression more like custom furniture than a block of cabinetry. 

On the rear wall, there’s more pink, in the dappled colouring of marble tiles. Above them, white panelling in a lining board profile provides a bright background for decorative objects. And then, all around – on overhead, underbench and tall cabinetry – that organic green Laminex Seed. It’s one of a range of muted greens introduced with the launch of the new Colour Collection, and immediately brings to mind the trees and grasses of the Australian bush. Its calming effect is palpable and, with the woodgrain and marble textures, and gently tinted metallic highlights, it makes for a kitchen that feels relaxed, natural and authentic. 

The rise of dark hues, with a flash of brushed brass

The connection to nature continues in Cirocco’s second kitchen, the Minerals Kitchen, although the effect couldn’t be more different. Black marble-look Laminex Nero Grafite features extensively, on a large island bench and also on the rear wall. It’s teamed with blacker-than-black Laminex AbsoluteMatte Black on cabinetry and the rear benchtop and splashback, rich brown Laminex Natural Walnut shelving, and a terrazzo floor with chunky dark aggregate. The subtle shifts in texture and tone between these different black and dark brown surfaces make for a moody and sophisticated space, and it reflects the strong recent trend towards darker-coloured residential interiors, and particularly kitchens. It’s a movement that informed the Laminex team’s decision to develop more richly coloured decors for the Colour Collection, and has also been noted by Cirocco in her daily practice. “People are increasingly willing to be more bold and more dramatic with their design style,” she says. “I’ve designed quite a few all-black kitchens recently.”

Laminex Minerals Kitchen designed by Olivia Cirocco from GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens.

But this kitchen isn’t quite all black. In fact, it’s defined, to a large degree, by the interplay between that marble-look Nero Grafite and a quite different new decor, Laminex Brushed Brass, on the front face of the island bench. The Nero Grafite benchtop folds over this front panel in a triangular form that reaches down to the floor – difficult and cost-prohibitive to do in natural stone, but here achieved quite simply and authentically with high-quality laminate. Brushed Brass is also used for a custom rangehood cover, which, because of its proximity to overhead lighting, gleams that little brighter, and shows off its beautiful brushed texture. It lifts the entire kitchen with a touch of sophisticated glamour.

 All other elements – appliances, tapware and task lighting – are completely black. But while that black-on-black theme is explicitly contemporary, the predominance of authentic marble and woodgrain textures, the tactile appearance of the brushed brass, and the terrazzo floor, make the space feel quite timeless.

 Cirocco’s work on these two kitchens is impressive for any designer, let alone one in the early stages of her career. And it also shows us how well the decors in the Laminex Colour Collection can be used to capture and combine the authentic looks of stone, woodgrain and metallic surfaces, and beautiful natural colours. Seeing these new decors through a young designer’s eyes is inspiring for all of us.

 Learn more about the new Laminex Colour Collection

Follow the tour – ISH, here we come!

Follow the tour – ISH, here we come!

Australian International Design Tours and their very excited tour members are packing their bags and getting ready to head for Frankfurt in a couple of days.

The tour group is heading to the world’s leading trade fair for modern bathroom design – ISH – where they’ll be soaking up non-stop bathroom inspo and design delights.

Those of us left behind (because somebody has to work, right?) can at least keep track of their antics in any or all of the following ways:

In your inbox every day (sign up to the tour blog):

Follow the fun on facebook:

Suffer some #insta envy: @thekitchenandbathroomblog (look for #aidt2019)

We’re looking forward to hearing what’s what with sanitaryware – safe travels and bon voyage, crew!

Playing with Patterns

Playing with Patterns

From simple gingham-style checks to complex motif repeats, patterns have been a feature of design and decoration for centuries. The ‘less-is-more’ style of design saw a lapse in decorative details, but we were delighted to see a re-emergence of tile patterns in this year’s Awards. In this feature, we’ll share some of our favourites.

Gold Coast designer, Helene Newson, played with pattern to great effect in this small bathroom. The geometric shapes add interest and drama to an otherwise all-white space, and the traditional pattern fits right into the classically styled home.

A lovely circular patterned tile provided a perfect base for this Hampton-styled kitchen by Perth designer, Sue Jansen (Kitchen Capital WA Pty Ltd). Taupe tones and a crisp white detail add a warm and homely feel to this white on white kitchen.

Victoria’s Olivia Cirocco (GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens) used a lovely light grey chevron-patterned tile to create movement and interest in this achromatic bathroom.

A well-placed herringbone patterned tile ads an element of energy to this mostly white, award-winning kitchen by Olivia Cirocco (GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens).

Rubix white mosaics inject a fun 3D effect to this industrial-style kitchen by Adelaide’s Nathan Wundersitz CKD Au (SpaceCraft Joinery).

Glossy black herringbone tiles add a sense of daring and drama to this award-winning kitchen by Perth’s Alysia Pekel (Western Cabinets).

What’s your pattern preference? Which tile trends are letting you have the most fun playing with pattern? Share your comments and images below.

AIDT 2019 International Tour – 12-23 March – bookings closing soon!

AIDT 2019 International Tour – 12-23 March – bookings closing soon!

Places are limited and selling fast – so don’t miss out on your opportunity to see first-hand the latest bathroom trends and product innovations as well as intelligent home systems at ISH. ISH is the world’s leading trade fair focussing on the responsible management of water and energy in buildings. AIDT’s 2019 Tour is fully tax-deductible and includes all accommodation, most meals (all breakfasts, 5 lunches and 8 dinners), entry fees to the show, luxury coach transport during the tour, free wi-fi in all hotel and free metro travel in Frankfurt, plus an architectural tour of the incredible Porsche Museum in Stuttgart.

You’ll experience amazing German hospitality in Schiltach at the home of Hansgrohe, in Hornberg at the home of Duravit and in Münster at the home of Kaldewei (courtesy Bathe).

Join like-minded colleagues and experience the best in international design and trend forecasting in a stress-free environment.

“As a freshly graduated designer, I was extremely excited by the idea of being a part of [the trip]. I was blown away by the magnitude of this event and was in awe of all that we saw! I could not fault the trip, it met all my expectations and more, thank you Mel and Simon” – Nadine, Qld.

“Being able to see firsthand what goes on behind the scenes at both the factories where they design and produce their products was fantastic! It reinforces my opinion of the high standard and superior quality both these two companies provide” – Sonja, ACT.

More information including full itinerary, inclusions and booking details is available from