The word ‘veneer’ has managed to traverse various meanings, or at least garner many understandings. Once a decorative layer applied to anything at all, it was then said a veneer was a thin layer of good wood bonded to woods of lesser notoriety.

Not long after that we accepted brick veneer and finally, if one Googles veneer, you will be beset with unwanted hits from dentists offering flawless veneers and perfect smiles at low, low prices.

Clearly then the creativity in veneers has never been at a standstill. The recent past has seen exciting and rankly mind blowing examples of what can be achieved with very minimal material, but great engineering.

Veneers are certainly a major design element, but the substrate must be positioned, moulded and engineered to make the most of a valuable resource.

Laminates and veneers have shaken off their image of being cheap off cuts of the timber industry.

Marketing manager of Elton Group, Karen Griffin agrees.

“In our experience the laminate market has shifted and growth these days is found in products offering innovative, high quality finishes and designs.”

The Elton Group creates their laminates using real timber, and stand stands firmly for responsible renewable resource practices. It is this ethos that has allowed the company to expand its range of products as technology progresses.

“The runaway success of our range has been the Evaneer Prefinished range of real timber laminates- ready polished with high quality polyurethane and a brushed 3D texture that can be applied the same way as an HPL laminate and protected with a peel-off film,” says Griffin.

“From a technical point of view the strength of Eveneer Prefinished is in the brushed 3D texture and quality of the polishing which is factory applied utilising the highest quality, oven cured, acrylic modified polyurethane; offering a finish that is hard to achieve.”

What lies ahead in 2019 is the evolution of Eveneer Touch, which is strongly focused on enhancing the haptics o the product.

Perhaps this is one of the greatest distinctions of the timber veneers of this century; more than the look, these finishes have to stand up to the touch test, to how people respond to the tactile qualities of surfaces. It’s the art of the feedback loop that tells our brains if we are enjoying an experience.

Early non visual concepts were things such as buzzing Nintendo controllers, and future haptic science will not involve actual touch at all, but rely more on ultrasonic transducers for the no-touch touch experience. Indeed, the haptic experience will soon transform into what some will call the virtual reality experience in design.

A different take on the physical veneer industry is found in the world recognised Wilsonart company, famous for creative designs and options for residential and commercial application.

Their laminates are created using 70 percent paper, (actually is it resin impregnated Kraft paper) and part of their extensive range includes wood grain laminate designs, however for those looking for a more industrial or urban design their VDL range includes a recycled timber look will appeal to those adverse to clinical perfection.

A specialist in high pressure laminates their AEON range delivers a robust anti scuff and scratch product that is partly comprised of aluminium particles that aid in the ‘sliding off’ effect of abrasive wear.

The Wilsonart range offers ideal traits for hard wearing locations such as kitchens and bathrooms – but have additional veneers that work well throughout both residential and commercial design, all of which suffer the slings and arrows and fingerprints of adversary.

Their solution is a new product called Traceless which offers is a highly durable laminate, combined with anti-fingerprint technology.

The 2019 range will include an assortment of additional designs which have been carefully curated with input from designers, architects and colour specialists.

Throughout we will be seeing an even greater use of the Xtreme Matt surface technology, an example of which is their stunning and designers and specifiers will no doubt be looking at the ‘concrete’ range that will fit well into the current stone-look briefs.

Laminex too are leading the new year with matte finishes, and adding to them palettes of what they call Nostalgia. One palette consists of muted Green Slate with Winter Sky and Natural Teak – while another comes back to a vibrant earth with Brushed Bronze and a Essastone Marmo Bianco that is a remarkable marble stone lookalike.

Perhaps a leap of concept here, but on the subject of stone and bench surface finishes, or splashbacks the new range from Caesartone is entirely the opposite of matt and quiet in design.

The Concetto collection is comprised of slices of agate, quartz and amethyst that are hand crafted to created dramatic surfaces – in a range of individual colour palettes (including Red Tiger Eye, Amethyst, Petrified Wood and White Quartz) some of which are so thin they are perfect for backlit panels in any room of the home that deserve a little semi-precious, luxury.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that precious means fragile, these panels are heat and scratch resistant and according to Caesastone never require sealing.

It’s irresistible to not go from sealing to ceiling – and from residential sized veneers to truly massive installations.

Matilda Veneer, a leading Australian timber veneer manufacturer, has taken on and created some of the most inspiring commercial building in the country – and it’s all about veneer and plywood.

For those of a certain age, plywood brings back memories of chipped schoolroom chairs that snagged and laddered pantyhose every single day of winter term. The cursed chairs revealed the laminated layers, and certainly left a negative impression on the female designers of the future. But all that has now changed.

Their product has lined magnificent halls such as those of Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in Sydney, the Trinity College at the University of Melbourne, and the vast and dramatic Robina Town Centre retail outlet in Queensland.

One cannot call such halls of architectural distinction ‘shopping centre’ because this design is elevated beyond that through the use of warm, golden toned veneers that wave across the ceilings of the vast market hall, and wrap around walkways.

Each project is unique, as is every tree ever grown. It is the seeking out of perfect timbers that sets Matilda apart, and guarantees their clients bespoke designs that will never fall out of some sort of faddish style.

The sliced veneers created by Matilda are typically 0.6mm thin, allowing for the maximum output from each log, and an almost countless number of designs from the same source.

One cubic metre, according to company notes, can produce 1000sqm of veneer. The artistry lies in what they do with the strips, and how they responsibly source the material.

Their rotary veneer, for example, is peeled on a lathe and can be seen in many applications but perhaps most often seen in residential applications in high-quality hoop pine ceilings – where the veneer is applied to a plywood substrate.

Appearing front and centre for Matilda this year will be their new tactile product; rough cut. In appearance, this veneer will approach that of freshly sawn wood, a far cry from the silken appearance of other materials in the range.

This newcomer will appeal to those who seek the benefits of veneer, while craving the more rustic or even industrial aesthetic.

The icing (or veneer) on the cake for 2019 will be the arrival of Rough Cut Blackbutt, which will be joined by Spotted Gum.

This Australian input to the existing range will surely excite those who seek a veneer finish with Australian depth.

SUPPLIERS

Elton Group https://www.architectureanddesign.com.au/suppliers/elton-group

Matilda Veneer https://matildaveneer.com.au/

Wilsonart    www.architectureanddesign.com.au/suppliers/wilsonart

Ceasarstone  https://www.caesarstone.com.au

Essastone  https://www.laminex.com.au/about-laminex/brands/essastone