Founded in 1974 in Laichingen, Germany, Süddekor GmbH has developed steadily to become a worldwide leader in decor printing and surface finishing.

Suddekor’s specialist papers, printed by rotogravure, are used to finish surfaces such as particleboard and laminate. The papers are used in many of the laminated surfaces commonly found in most homes and businesses such as desktops, floors and modular furniture. The company also undertakes a great deal of custom work for large corporate customers.

Süddekor’s growth path includes two subsidiaries specialising in design development: Süddekor Art in Germany was established in 1998 to offer work not only to Süddekor GmbH but also to other printers, especially to manufacturers of vinyl products, while Süddekor LLC, in Massachusetts in the US, began production of printing and engraving in 2000 to develop designs specifically for the US market.

Today the strong umbrella of 2D Holding brings together Dankor in Heroldstatt, Süddekor Art in Willich and Süddekor LLC. 2D Holding is – with its companies Süddekor (decor printing and finish foils), Süddekor Art (decor development and cylinder gravure) and Dakor (melamine impregnation) – one of the leading suppliers of surfaces for the furniture and flooring industry.

The most important development to date for Süddekor GmbH was its recent takeover of WKP Württembergische Kunststoffplattenwerke GmbH & Co KG, Unterensingen, in September 2008.
The contract covers the purchase of the technical systems, the acquisition of all rights, patents and brands as well as the offer to retain all employees.

WKP is a globally-active specialist in finish foils, release papers and melamine foils. The company has a reputation for high technological standards, quality and service, according to its customers and competitors alike.

The decision to sell WKP to Süddekor was said to be based on a realistic assessment of the future. With a continuation of the current company strategy, there is little chance of survival for an independent supplier of surface finishes without the integration of decor printing, within a consolidated market.

“With this development, we are once again expanding our technology leadership in line with our ‘Visions in Design and Technology’ claim,said Dr Christian Rolfs, Süddekor ceo and chairman of the 2D Holding board of directors. “With this, we are providing our clients throughout the world with a product and services portfolio which is unique and perfectly fulfils the sector’s most diverse requirements.”

So, with this takeover, Süddekor – under the umbrella of 2D Holding – says it now offers its worldwide customers an even greater breadth and depth, which is said to be unique to the market.

Today more than 200 tons of printed and finished decor paper leaves the Süddekor plant in the Swabian town of Laichingen every day to reach customers in 45 countries throughout the world within the shortest period of time. Three production sites in the US provide further production capacities.

Overall, more than 670 employees work at six production sites for the conglomerate, generating a turnover of around €230m in 2007. In the same period the team printed around 40,000 tons of decor paper, lacquered 60 million m2 of finish foils and produced 200 million m2 of impregnates.
Crucially, says the company, it is innovative design methods and fostering unusually strong ties with its customers that underlines the success of Süddekor.

“In the past it was not usual to work with customers all the time but we now find that it is crucial to work in partnership with a customer to optimise ideas for his range,explains Dirk Eiynck who is director of product development and marketing at Süddekor GmbH in Laichingen.

“We don’t have trends as such. We don’t say to customers that it’s imperative that they buy our products. We simply say that these are our ideas behind what we think will be the future for design of decorative paper, and if you like it, buy it.”

The Süddekor design factory at the Laichingen site is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and production cylinders are engraved at four times the speed of other conventional methods. More than 100 designs come to life every year.

“What is so special about our design work is that we do not have design people with curious artistic tendencies,says Mr Eiynck. “They don’t come in and say ‘Today it will be brownish with a bit more red’. These people know the business, they know how to do it. They do not allude to the pretensions of design. They will suggest they can do it this way and offer their thinking behind it. Süddekor’s trends for 2009 perfectly reflect this.

“Environmental change and the restructuring of the global economy are current issues, all of which are accompanied by a desire for identity in a new and modern interpretation,says Heike Schlosser, a talented designer at Süddekor.

“Together with Süddekor Art, we have captured the zeitgeist [spirit of the time] for decorative surfaces and are concentrating on future domestic design, an area which is currently experiencing a rise in importance.”

This year Süddekor has presented ‘Trends 2009’, not in the form of a trend book, but as a digital CD, for the very first time.

“Once again, we have split our new ideas into four topic worlds this year. The individual areas represent our interpretation of contemporary trends and reflect our views of the present social tendencies,explains Ms Schlosser.

The four themes are Reternity, Pure, Explorer and Escape.

Reternity has established structures such as modern interpretations of walnut, cherry and beech, as well as marble. Exquisite metallic nuances dominate and are contrasted by bold splashes of colour, says the designer.

Pure is said to offer an authentic beauty with enchanting anomalies. Woods, be they oak or maple, plain or rustic, represent naturalness with their typical properties, she adds.

Explorer is avant-garde but nonetheless natural, with straight pines occupying their own space. Suggestions of mystical and secretive colours with transparency and geometry are inherent.
Escape, as the expression of modern hedonism, represents hearty and passionate consumption; Rosewood and mahogany best reflect the style and individuality of the Escape theme.