Video from Dekodur's booth, which showcased some of the crazy prints and high-gloss finishes now available for laminates.

Helen Kuhl, editorial director of CWB and Wood & Wood Products, hit the floor running at Interzum 2009, a leading international supplier tradeshow, to bring ISWonline readers the scoop on industry-changing innovations being unveiled. The video above and her story give a glimpse into the decorative overlay and finishing trends she observed.

COLOGNE, GERMANY — At the end of three days, Interzum is still going strong – a nice way to celebrate the show’s 50th birthday. The crowds are strong, including some American visitors who are checking out the newest hardware innovations and finding new sources. Exhibitors are seeing customers from across the world and some say traffic is up over the previous Interzum in 2007, a very hopeful sign that the worldwide economy is still moving forward.

A number of new trends are on display in decorative overlays.

Manufacturers of the films and foils that are used to create the finished laminate or melamine board products come to Interzum just a couple of months after attending the primo Italian furniture show in Milan and frequently refer to trends they see there — knowing that it foreshadows what will become popular in the rest of Europe. Here are some highlights:

1. Woodgrain materials with prominent straight grain lines continue to be popular. Although some of the stronger, multicolored woods are still shown, it has been toned down considerably from two years ago. Casework is shown using the grain lines both vertically and horizontally. Species like oak are given a totally different look when the grain goes sideways.

2. Traditional woods are shown in different, nontraditional colors, like a very light, almost white shade of cherry. The paper and foil manufacturers can use their same cylinders, but with different shades, to create the new looks. Very light shades of pear and maple also were shown. Light, soft colors are popular.

3. At the other end of the scale, very dark browns also are still in demand. They are normally paired in combination with either a light species or solid white or cream shades.

4. Rustic looks are very popular, reflecting manufacturers’ beliefs that people are drawn to natural comforting ambiance in rooms to relieve the stress they are facing in today’s difficult economy. So the man-made materials feature species showing knots and worm holes – not too strong, but there.

5. Hottest species are cherry and other fruitwoods, maple, walnut, oak and beech.

6. Finishes are being added to the materials to give them texture, so they feel like you are running your hands across real woodgrain. In colors, textures such as linen are added, which changes the looks of the light.

7. One of the hottest trends is the high-gloss finish. It was seen in past years, and some manufacturers said that they expected it to last just a short time and then fade, but it is becoming more popular than ever. High-gloss finishes on woodgrains and colors were prevalent.

8. In contrast, “super matte” finishes also were being shown and used in some applications.

9. Also seen throughout the fair were lots of wild prints and very bright colors. One hardware supplier said that bright colors are very popular in Europe now, even being used in office furniture.

10. A new color that is emerging is gray, shown in both dark and light shades. It’s a brown base but with so much gray, it almost looks closer to black. These grays were shown all over and used prominently for walls and floors in several booths.

11. Stone look laminates are very popular for countertops in Europe. They look exactly like granite and marble, with a high gloss.

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