As you would expect, this year’s Surface Design Show 2020 was a tactile heaven. Bustling but not overly packed, the Business Design Centre was brimming with multi-coloured stone, coarse textures, and sustainable materials. It was a sensory sensation.
The main overwhelming design trend was terrazzo; a surprising discovery as the versatile pattern was a key trend back in 2018, yet there it was on almost every surface: cloth, tiles, countertops, walls and floors. One stand that garnered interest from people was Vicalvi’s who had a superb array of pastel pink, muted rust and blue-grey terrazzo pillars, complemented by moss walls which made it an incredibly popular stand for photographs.
Surface Matter also stood out, most notably for their innovative stand which looked like a sweet shop. It was also heaving with visitors, attracted by the product samples in the shapes of lollipops. They had a variety of terrazzo plastics, many made out of recycled plastic and paper. They explained that their plastics are often translucent so that designers can play with light through the terrazzo, so it becomes almost interactive.
Other terrazzo highlights included Enis Akiev who uses household waste from his home in Cologne to make plastic stone tiles that emulate rock formations; Marina Elli Design with Tisses created a terrazzo fabric made entirely out of plastic bottles and spun using an ecological ennobling process; and Smile Plastics who specialise in terrazzo because their products are 100% recycled.
There was a cream and glinting silver sample made out of yogurt pots and Christmas baubles, an ocean green made from recycled fishing nets and thick, multi-sourced plastics that can be used for sturdier surfaces like worktables.
Surface Design Show’s next unmissable feature was the emphasis on patterned, textured tiles. Undulating and purposefully imperfect, the majority of tiles were raw, untreated, and textured in a way that made them feel more organic and earthy. Tile of Spain had some beautiful samples, again with raised patterns and a grainy texture that made them feel handmade and homely rather than mass produced; James Latham had a popular stand, in particular their mint green/pale pink wavy tile seemed to be a big hit as everyone went up to touch it.
A delightful addition to Surface Design Show was the emphasis on the circular economy and sustainable design. There were an abundance of projects featuring recycled waste such as almond shells, glass, plastic, paper, hemp, eggshells and coffee grounds, such as
Beyond Plastics from The Netherlands who bowls made from food waste; Steven Akoun’s fascinating grey and green sound absorbing tiles made out of glass and eggshells; Surface Design’s thick countertop blocks made out of hundreds of tightly pressed waste paper; and new designer Paula Nerlich produced incredible plastic-like materials made out of a starchy liquid from beans and chick peas. It was soft, had no smell and was flexible, just like a plastic, but 100% natural.
Architecture and design have a huge impact on the natural environment, so hopefully environmentally-friendly initiatives will be a regular feature at all future Surface Design Shows.