Quartz Takes the Stage at K/BIS

LAS VEGAS – Sure, there’s going to be griping and grumbling about giving the spotlight to products other than natural stone. However, when it comes to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) this week, manufactured products took all the action.

The number of stone vendors at this year’s big designer/distributor event really didn’t even amount to a handful among the several halls of products at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Aside from Antolini Luigi & C.’s efforts, dimensional stone appeared mainly as part of the mix in exhibit booths, next to bits of ceramic tile in accent pieces.

The big countertop/vanity stars here are solid surface and quartz, with the latter making the most impact. From materials looking more like stone to a race for the purest pure white, quartz producers offered beefy amounts of new products.

Here’s a quick rundown by company, in alphabetical order:

CAMBRIA – The Eden Prairie, Minn., quartz producer produced the usual big-name draw – this year, with Mariel Hemingway at an in-booth kitchen – but the real star for the Eden Prairie, Minn., company is the new Waterstone Collection, with a dozen new colors offering something closer to natural stone than previous products.

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The Waterstone Collection comes in light and dark colors, and – as the company puts it in a release – “many designs are reminiscent of granite and marble.” The difference from standard quartz is a randomization of pattern and hints of veining to produce visual movement. It’s not an exact copy, which Cambria isn’t trying to claim, either.

Experienced stone hands will see the difference from quarried product in an instant. Still, it’s a major move away from the mixed-chip look of many quartz surfaces. Cambria says that Waterstone slabs should be shipping in May.

COSENTINO GROUP – After heading down the recycled route (ECO) and leathered surfaces (Volcano) in the past year or so, the Spanish producer of Silestone® presented its take on granite and marble with the Galactic and Nebula series, respectively. The former includes six colors mixed mainly from a brown/silver/black palette, while the latter gives a half-dozen colors in various hues and mixtures of green, white and black.

White Zeus Extreme with Infinity SinkCosentino went beyond patterns, though, with its White Zeus Extreme, a very solid, very white-on-white color with enough brightness to put the purest porcelain out to pasture. The purity specs on the white color means that the waste on this color is higher than other in production, but it’s extremely attractive to contemporary designers. Cosentino also offers an Integrity Sink from the same quartz materials for a pristine no-seam look. (The Infinity is also available in other matching Silestone colors.)

Other new Silestone colors include Cemento, a concrete-like gray; White Platinum, a mainly white base with silver accents; and Rosso Monza, a red that’s near spot-on to the hues from one of motor racing’s most-famous team. (Hint: think tifosi.)

DuPONT – The producer of Zodiaq® quartz and Corian® solid surface offered a theme this year – “The Spice of Design” – and kept to the savory line with the new selections offered at K/BIS.

New Zodiaq® colorsFor Zodiaq®, the five new colors are Coarse Pepper, Caraway, Poppy Seed, Chicory and Sage. (We weren’t kidding about DuPont’s spicy thinking here.)  All of them offer a muted-but-blended look that should work well with simple-color contemporary designs as well as traditional, you-can’t-have-too-much-cherry wood cabinetry.

HANWHA SURFACES – This Korean producer provided the biggest spectacle at K/BIS by taking its bringing-surfaces-to-live them literally, as three models posed in front of quartz slabs, with the models clad in skintight outfits corresponding to the slab color. Of more interest to the trade, are the sample pieces on the other side of those slabs.

HanStone Sterling GreyHanwha introduced a large number of new colors in February to its HanStone line; in April, it offered a selection of a dozen more new looks. However, not all of them will be available immediately; the company surveyed attendees at the booth to judge reactions and – in a form of vox populi – use the information to determine which colors go to market first.

Among the new colors are several with main bases of plum, lime and aquamarine, along with others following the trend to granite and marble motifs. Hanwha also two surfaces with 20-percent post-consumer recycled content, mainly from brown and green beverage bottles to give a brighter look to sustainable content. The company will be ramping up production with its new slab factory in Ontario.

LG HAUSYS – The luck of the alphabet makes LG – a producer also with Korean ownership – look like everyone else here, but it’s been working for quite a while on several fronts to freshen its Viatera® line. While its Ice and Reflection Collections are along the traditional lines of quartz with deep hues and reflective highlights, others – such as its Wheat and Dover – are sandstone-inspired.

Viatera ReflectionLG Hausys is also going the marble route with two new surface – Blanco White and Crema Beige – in a new Veined Collection. And there’s an entry in the pure-and-clean surfaces with its new Ultra White.

The big news with LG Hausys, however, is more of a where than a what; late last year, the company finished construction of a quartz-surface production line in Adairsville, Ga. After setup and trial runs, the facility should start manufacturing Viatera® in May or June, making it the second company (along with Cambria) to offer U.S.-made quartz surfaces.

SAMSUNG – This Korean company’s Radianz® quartz line offered a quieter expansion of its line this year, with new colors including Caucasus Gray. At K/BIS, it also got the chance to toot the sustainability horn with its SCS Material Content Certification for certain Radianz colors, including Rangoon Black and Sechura Mocha.

Sechura MochaThe other piece of big news is, well, big for its parts. All the Radianz line in the United States is now offered in 60” X 122” slabs, making the material desirable for large one-piece items such as jumbo islands.

Anyone noticing the sinks at Samsung’s K/BIS display got a peek at a very soft-but-public introduction of a new line; the company should have quartz sinks available sometime in the next 12 months.

Emerson Schwartzkopf

You can read up-to-the-minute news on the dimensional-stone trade and search the archives at Stone Business Online.

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