Smart design9 July 2020
Surfacing giant Schattdecor’s Smartfoil Nature and Smartflex Nature innovations are designed to closely resemble the visuals of natural wood. Stephen Powney reports
Global surfacing specialist the Schattdecor group finished 2019 with higher sales and a mission to further expand its customer offering and international presence.
The company, which produces printed decor paper, finish foil and melamine films, recorded 2019 sales of around €790m and saw a positive market development in its finished surfaces division – with sales volumes increasing to 730 million m2 (2018: 620 million m2).
The number of group locations grew to 18, including a broader presence in Asia and the US with the acquisitions of US finish foil manufacturer US Coating and Malaysian impregnator Vasatech. A second printing facility at Quzhou was also completed during the year.
Two of its most recent product innovations are Smartfoil Nature and Smartflex Nature – surfaces, Schattdecor says, which create modern surfaces for all living spaces and which are hard to distinguish visually from solid wood or veneer.
Designed to meet demand for natural looking surfaces, the products’ natural look is based on the interplay between the printed image and the decor-synchronous mattegloss finished structure. Being a practical surface with anti-fingerprint properties is another selling point.
The Smartflex Nature version also has a surface designed with real wood character, but with additional flexibility as the printing is done on thermoplastic instead of paper. The extreme elasticity allows it to be applied over any edging.
Smartflex Nature is being targeted at furniture applications in the kitchen or bathroom thanks to its base material and benefits of moisture-resistance, low maintenance and non-toxicity.
We all know that demand for oak decors remains popular. Schattdecor’s development of Evoke Oak sprang from the current trend for black, which is so much in demand in the furnishing sector, whether in the form of applications, accessories or dark, black coloured accents in decorative surfaces.
It combines darkened details and intensely coloured areas. In combination with the natural oak base colour, a homogeneous decor has been created that can be combined with black fittings or other accessories creating, Schattdecor says, harmony throughout the home.
The design is available as Smartfoil Nature or Smartflex Nature.
Also still in demand are stone decors, whose use has grown beyond the kitchen into all living areas. Evoke Oak is designed to be a good match for these stone decors such as the Grey Caspio décor, which features the look of Persian limestone with natural, intersecting, fine calcite veins.
The natural course of the veins looks exciting, but not too large. This makes the decor suitable both as a worktop and as a furniture front. By inverting the original design, Grey Caspio offers a light stone decor with dark veins. With pigments of gold, silver or bronze, these can be highlighted according to the desired or current trend.
Before Covid-19 restrictions were implemented throughout Europe, Schattdecor exhibited its complete package of solutions at Euroshop 2020 in Düsseldorf under the company’s motto – “One Source. Unlimited Solutions.”
A focus on reflecting nature as best as possible, plus trend-oriented developments beyond modern living were key points as the company also sought to influence end use buyers such as architects, designers, property developers and shopfitters.
Among the decors on display were large format digital prints, such as the stone decors Barcelona and Cristallo, as well as the wood reproduction Delano Oak – the demand for which was already apparent at previous fairs in 2019.
In addition, Schattdecor displayed material reproductions such as Raw Steel or the modern concrete look of the Loft decor – designed for shop fitting and store construction projects.
Smart solutions included digitally printed, backlit overlays, which are particularly suitable as an eye-catcher in shops, bars or hotels.
Smart Working during Covid-19
Schattdecor staff have had to adapt to new ways of working during the Covid-19 pandemic and its staff from around the world – including the US, Russia, China, Italy, Brazil and Poland have been giving their perspectives on their experiences.
The company says it remains focused on working on new products, decors and designs, and also analysing new customers, target groups and consumer needs.
“Where elsewhere there are still strict legal regulations or it’s not yet possible to return to locations, we rely on the additional, digital infrastructure,” it said.
Alexander Panyukhin, sales and marketing director from Chekhov (Russia), says the frequency and scope of communication with customers has changed.
“Russia is a huge country, which is why most customer contacts took place by telephone and email even before the coronavirus,” he said.
“But, we’ve intensified communication even more. The time that I had to spend on travelling before the pandemic is now additional time being in contact with our customers.”
Xu Shidong, sales and marketing colleague from China, said workers and customers were united in both trying to adapt to the new norm.
Silvia Sardano, sales representative at the Rosate location, said it was important to motivate and understand each other in the current exceptional circumstances.
Elisa Toazza, manager Latin America design, marketing and communication in Brazil, said: “Circumstances are changing almost daily and our clients need to know that we’re here for them, listen to them and take their needs and fears seriously.”
Klaus Müller, head of sales, finished surfaces, said: “We’re in demand today, because we’re close to customers and the market. We look closely, listen carefully and anticipate what will be important in the future.
“Our goal must be to build on successes together following the crisis as partners and in the meantime find solutions for both sides – whether humane, economic or product-oriented. There’s no doubt that we’ll continue to be innovative during this period and expand our product portfolio in line with requirements and new needs. Now is the time to stay active.”
Christian Zaha, head of decor management added: “We keep going, collect ideas, and develop. We’re ready to come up with new ideas and react to new needs on the market. Our work has, of course, changed, along with our customers and partners. If we work together, we can overcome this crisis together.”
Frank Schumacher, executive board member for sales and strategic purchasing, said the situation was a challenge.
“More than ever, our adaptability is in demand. In doing so, we face the challenges, look for new ways to conduct business, expand our knowledge and facilitate creative solutions.
“We’re highly motivated, and approach existing structures and processes with an alert mind. Clarifying which digital impulses we’ll integrate into our existing processes in the future – always with a view to our customers – and also to our employees who keep to this performance promise in their daily work.
“As a group, we analyse how markets are changing. Our focus is currently on possible additions to our product portfolio and new technical solutions.
“’One Source. Unlimited Solutions’ as a core element of our product strategy is particularly relevant during these difficult times. This keeps our sights set on the future,” said Mr Schumacher.
“Together with all our business partners along the value chain, we must work to ensure that things pick up again in our industry after the crisis. With confidence, fresh impetus and an adapted product portfolio, this will succeed. Applied to our company, this means that we’re all doing our best, reacting flexibly to new challenges and not afraid to step out of our comfort zone – this is what makes us special, and moves us forward.”