AN INSIGHT INTO SURFACING WITH BRUNO LEHMANN VICE PRESIDENT INTERIOR of BENECKE-HORNSCHUCH SURFACE GROUP
Dating to as far back as 1898, Hornschuch has long been a market leader in innovation and technology when it comes to the development of functional films, high-tech synthetics, and artificial leather. SPACE’s Tonje Odegard had a chat with Bruno Lehmann to get some insight into how this can be applied in hotels…
Take us through the different elements of your surface ranges – See, Touch, Think, Love.
The skai® brand stands for surfaces that touch. And the resulting goal is an ambitious one. Because with every product that we manufacture and market, we would like to develop an emotional bond, a relationship based on mutual appreciation. Our surfaces touch in different ways. The four ‘touch points’ build on one another: from a distance I perceive the surface with my eyes (see) – this is an exclusively visual stimulus. If I like what I see, I come closer and try to form a haptic impression (touch). If I am interested, I try to integrate the surface into my world and consider which application it would be ideal for (think). And finally, I am very pleased with it and become very fond of it (love).
How can interactive surfaces in public spaces of a hotel affect the design experience?
Surfaces always influence the spatial impact of a room. This occurs by means of colour, structure and haptics. These elements can be used to create the entire interior design of a hotel – from the lobby, through the bar, to the restaurant and spa. Furniture can be used as an eye-catching element, providing colourful highlights and awakening positive associations. The aim is to create a comfortable and cosy atmosphere in which the guest feels at home. As a further element, light will play a greater role in the future in conjunction with the surface. Translucent materials will be used so that design, function and communication form a single unit. This means that hotel designers can make use of messages and effects that only become visible when the guest interacts with the material. The result is a new dimension of the design experience.
What are the different materials you use and what are the benefits of each?
With our upholstery materials, we offer the opportunity to design seating furniture, headboards or walls. These upholstery synthetics, which are referred to as artificial leather, are coatings made of vinyl or polyurethane on a textile substrate. Strictly speaking, they no longer have much to do with classic artificial leather. They are high-tech materials with different properties adapted to the specific application. The advantages we offer for surfaces in hotels are the diversity of the designs and the longevity, robustness and flame retardancy of our materials. In the future we will also increasingly see hybrids consisting of vinyl and polyurethane that combine the best properties of both materials. The new, breathable laif® VyP is the start of this. With its high permeability to air and water vapour, the material sets standards in terms of comfort, durability and sustainability. These are decisive advantages in the hotel business in particular.
How has the development of technology affected how you create your surfaces?
All the developments that are being incorporated into the process as part of the digitisation procedure have radically changed the speed at which innovations are created – and will continue to do so in the future. For example, the unproblematic transfer of large quantities of data allows us to adopt a completely different and – above all – globally oriented approach to the development of new designs. Structures can be scaled down to the level of one μ with today’s laser embossing technology, thereby enabling filigree embossing to be carried out. There has also been a leap in the quality of the surfaces over the last few years. New varnishing and finishing processes provide lasting haptic impressions. The trend towards individualisation is causing the demand for digital printing to soar. For exclusive small volume series we also create customer-specific designs here through the use of digital direct printing. In this way we also offer smaller hotels an opportunity to enhance their interior by means of an individual design and set themselves apart from the competition. We are in the process of significantly expanding our digital printing capacities.
How creative can you be when it comes to surfacing?
There are almost no restrictions placed on creativity in the design of surfaces today, which partly results from the digital exchange and collaboration with designers all over the world. With the new media and technologies, we are able to satisfy all requirements with respect to printing and embossing. Only the thickness of the material sets a natural limit to the depth of the embossed structures. Otherwise, everything is possible.