We’re fortunate at Armourcoat to have the opportunity to access an international group of businesses and can quickly channel ideas for decorative finishes into market-ready products. Working with our international team of partners and customers, we consider design trends at a local and international level and they often influence one another. Traditionally, Europe has been considered the centre for design excellence and the source of new trends in surface finishes and colour themes. However, we’ve seen traditional and modern aspects fusing to create new directions from the Middle East, Africa and southern Europe. This adds greater potential for cross-market development and also flavours our design team with a global colour palette and forecast for future trends.
Over the past few years, we have worked on projects across all market sectors including boutique retail brands, luxury resorts, hospitality groups, healthcare and commercial. We also have a significant business in the residential sector with discerning clients. The underlining design principle across all these projects considers the seamless nature of the brand finishes particularly for large-scale application, together with the recognition of the value of natural mineral materials being hand-applied by talented artisan applicators. The idea of small-batch material, custom-designed finishes for a particular client, perhaps even a complete one-off, never-to-be-repeated effect, resonates with the specifier and end customer alike.
A popular current theme is the use of concrete colours for a distinctly urban, industrial style, perhaps combined with metal rust and verdigris colours. We are currently seeing a shift towards the specification of more luxurious metallic, opulent reflective surfaces. Also we note the subtle use of distressed or antique effects, such as the cracked gesso finish.
Another important style is the use of geometric forms and repeating patterns, together with intricate layered pattern details. This could be in the form of a seamless 3D sculptural surface or by using precast shapes which work together to produce large-scale decorative effects.
Precast or modular panels are a distinct trend as some sectors make a preference for off-site construction. This is favoured by both contractors and their clients due to the shorter construction schedules with less delays and cost overruns. Often projects are under tight deadlines for completion or it is impractical to work with ‘wet’ plastering trades on site. Modular solutions can be highly customised to suit the client, sent directly to site and installed by a joiner or millworker in a few hours.
Consideration is increasingly being given to the positive effects of interior design to health and wellbeing, well-documented for patients in healthcare environments. The use of calming hues, colour-coding for wayfinding, with surfaces recreating natural forms help improve both client and staff morale.
The new ‘Project Legacy’ veteran hospital in New Orleans, USA, for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, designed by Studio Nova (a joint venture comprising NBBJ, Eskew+Dumez+Ripple and Rozas Ward Architects), demonstrates this on a impressive scale. The Southeast Louisiana Veteran Healthcare System (SLVHCS) – or ‘Project Legacy’ – is designed to replace the original VA medical centre lost to hurricane Katrina. SLVHCS has a five-day capability to operate independently, applying the lessons learned from the hurricane, to create a resilient hospital infrastructure.
The facility honours veterans’ service and reflects the culture of New Orleans. Colour, material and spatial cues were designed specifically with their needs in mind. Some colours were chosen to celebrate military service. Others including some sandy or olive-drab hues were avoided to prevent associations with combat. Armourcoat’s local partner, Southwest Progressive Enterprises, expertly installed over 1400m² of Smooth and Pitted Armourcoat Polished Plaster finishes which included the impressive two VA seals measuring 64m² and the American flag at 16m-high.
For the millennial audience, we have worked with projects where social media-friendly backdrops for hospitality interiors are explored. Creating decorative focal points and reference wall finishes, perhaps including understated branding, offer ‘selfie’ hotspots to promote peer awareness.
A great example is the renovation of the latest Las Vegas strip hotel by Elkus Manfredi Architects. The Boston-based architect firm converted the original Imperial Palace hotel into a lavish property specifically designed for the Net Generation. The new Linq Hotel boasts 2500 rooms, a casino, retail space, pool deck, vortex roof and full service spa featuring a corridor of custom-finished ArmourFX panels. Elizabeth Lowrey, Principal and Director of Interior Architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects, explored the idea of ‘instagramable’ backdrops within the property. This was done to redefine the hotel’s purpose in the city and also with the millennial audience’s heavy use of social media in mind.
The Linq Spa includes Armourcoat Timber Effect panels created from Douglas fir planks that are hand-worked to achieve different aesthetic qualities. The panels offer great design options, often replacing exotic or expensive timber for commercial projects. ArmourFX Timber Effect panels have been used to replace or match Shou-Sugi-Ban Japanese charred planks or, as in this project, mountain pine beetle blue-stain timber.
Armourcoat has its UK head offices in Sevenoaks and has a wholly-owned US subsidiary business based in Las Vegas. Developed over 30 years, the company works with a network of partners and customers enjoying product sales and installation into 80 countries. The UK business manages the manufacture of the brand’s wide product range, global distribution and technical support. It also runs a significant contracting business operating in the UK and Europe.