Thursday, 5 July 2012

Ceramic surfaces in kitchens

Philippa Turrell takes a look at ceramic to find out what this material may mean to kitchen showroom worktop sales

Luca Bottazzi of Laminam and Remco Jaspers
 of UK distributor Jetstone see production of the ceramic
Italy may not be the native home of Spaghetti Bolognese or garlic bread (who knew?) but it is where you will find porcelain ceramic, measuring just 3mm in depth. Made by Laminam, in Fiorano Modenese, this self-titled ceramic originated for building applications, (flooring and walls), and is still used for this purpose today, as well as exterior cladding, doors, shipbuilding and furniture. Following the influence of architects in domestic design, ceramic is now being used for kitchen furniture and worktops. In fact, kitchen tops now account for 60-70% of the manufacturer's sales. The ceramic is not only featured on Alno’s AlnoCera kitchen furniture range but is also available as a worktop, through distributor and fabricator Jetstone. This alternative to granite and top-end quartz worktops forms 5% up to 10% of Jetstone's worktop offer in Holland after 5 years. So, it is perhaps surprising that Jetstone's marketing co-ordinator Remco Jaspers says ceramic worktops already has a bigger share of its sales in this country. Currently 15% of its UK turnover is ceramic worktops and he believes in two years, this figure could reach around 40%. He explains why ceramics is so popular: "I think the UK [retailer] is open to something new. That’s my impression. At least in the market we’re in, the designer studios want something the guy down the road doesn’t have.”
At its UK launch at kbbBirmingham, managing director of Jetstone, John Van den Heuvel demonstrated one of its properties – fire resistance – with two blowtorches! But the ceramic also offers resistance against chemical, wear, frost, and UV light, as well as boasting hygienic benefits by inhibiting bacterial growth and it is recyclable. Now ceramic worktops are already featured as displays in 20-25 kitchen showrooms, across the country.
Arguably, the look of ceramic scores just as highly as its features. Luca Bottazzi, responsible for sales at Laminam, comments: “For architecture it is very difficult to match different materials [used for different applications]. Using ceramic you can be sure to have the same result, whether it’s used on the floor, walls or as furniture. There is no limitation; it can be used for every flat application. We follow the work of the architect or designer and not the opposite way around.”

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