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Australia’s burgeoning construction industry is continuing to grow and this is placing a whole new focus on facades. With the advancement of technology, facades have evolved to meet modern demands – they are now thinner, lighter, highly durable, adaptable and energy efficient.
The latest trends in façade design and engineering were explored at this year’s World of Facades conference, held in Sydney on 8 February. As Dekton is one of the world’s smartest surfaces, we were proud to sponsor the event, which is now in its 37th year. This year’s event was particularly special as it was the first time the conference has been held in Australia and Cosentino Group’s Vice President – Global Product R&D, Valentín Tijeras, flew in from Spain to be among the keynote speakers.
We spoke to Valentín about the trends shaping façade design and the innovations driving the industry forward.
As the vice president of global product and R&D, you are constantly anticipating the needs to the market. From where do you draw inspiration?
I get inspiration for a mix of sources, including market research, focus groups and tradeshows. I’m also inspired by other businesses and my team of collaborators, including designers and architects. Customers and vendors are also a source of inspiration
I am very open minded and I try to be always eyes wide open and collect all different types of inputs. Then we follow a quite scientific process to distil the final result and we try to test the concepts in all stages of the development.
What are some of the key trends in facade design today and what can we expect for the future? What is shaping these trends?
We are seeing more and more designs that highlight the beauty in imperfections. Materials that are one of a kind, that have their own story to tell and try to run away from artificial perfection.
There has been a strong focus on high-performance facades in recent times. How are surfaces getting smarter?
Today, we can get the same mechanical performance with lighter materials. They are more resistant to ageing and show excellent performance in terms of stain resistance and cleanability. We are already seeing smart surfaces that can be energy generators, change in colour or contribute to pollution reduction.
What are some of the innovations driving change in the industry today?
Engineered materials are definitely the driver of the industry. For many years, materials for facades have been restricted to stone, glass or aluminium. Today, engineered and composite materials give designers much more flexibility and capabilities for their designs.
What trends are you seeing in materials and what do you anticipate for the future?
Lighter materials, bigger formats, smart surfaces and a generalisation of the use of these materials for facades. Right now, the amount of ventilated facades is still small considering all the benefits they present.
Cosentino products undergo strenuous testing to ensure their extreme durability. What does the process involve?
We adapt to local regulations in every market to support the specifics of each. In some countries, there’s a big concern about earthquakes, in some others, the concern is about hurricanes. Fire resistance is a big concern, too. We always try to push our materials to the limit of technique to ensure the best possible performance and exceed these regulations by far.
What are some of the colour trends we can expect for facades and what role does colour matching play in the market today?
I see more and more of the industrial look for facades. Materials that resemble rusty, worn off materials, but with high performance. This is where we think our Dekton Industrial collection is a perfect fit.
As for colour matching, materials need to be consistent, but not perfect, since it would look fake. A certain level of randomness give engineered materials more credibility.