December 2020

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D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 0 | 27 Walls & Ceilings P H OTO G R A P H Y CO U RT E SY S O U N D S O LU T I O N S The latest in wall and ceiling products create functional, fashionable spaces to call home by STACEY MCLACHLAN Surface STYLE I n any given interior space – be it residential, commercial or industrial – we're surrounded by walls and ceilings. But these enclosures do so much more than keep the elements at bay: they're a surface for creative expres- sion, a functional barrier for light and sound, and the creator and protector of privacy and safety. During a time of increasing chaos, it's more important than ever to build our own moments of refuge. And as wall and ceiling manufacturers and suppliers tap into the latest technological possibilities, it's easier than ever to craft a space that sparks wall-to-wall joy. With the chaos of COVID-19 all around us, interior design trends are reflect- ing a desire for rich, inviting spaces. That means the minimalism of past years is slipping away, with the emergence of texture and pattern that bring joy and warmth. Venetian plaster finishes on the wall, as well as textural tile or wallpa- per, are all popular looks for 2021. Natural stone – think marble, onyx, travertine, or slate – makes for an organic, earthy element on wall surfaces. Mirrored walls are also trending, a nod to Art Deco or the 1970s revival. But these bold looks aren't just for walls. The ceiling, too, is having a moment, as designers play with coffers, colour, and pattern overhead, some even embrac- ing decorative plasters or reliefs to really amp up the drama. False or suspended ceilings can add depth and intimacy to a space. As the trend towards statement-making surfaces grows, companies that spe- cialize in sculptural wall and ceiling designs are ready to tackle more creative projects than ever Formglas is one such company. Using molded gypsum, composite, and concrete-based products, its designers craft stunning sculptures that double as walls. For Mumbai's new state-of-the-art airport terminal, the company installed a dramatic molded coffer ceiling with integrated columns, and crafted perforated ceiling petals and skylights for a stunning retail corridor. On another recent show- room project, Formglas crafted executive elliptical column covers, and a striking grille wall that functioned as a return air louver for the building's exhaust system. Formglas's creative proprietary materials open up a wide range of oppor- tunity for outside-the-box designs. Among many others, there's lightweight Concrete veneers; the high-strength CorniceStone, which looks similar to limestone; and Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic that can be cast in almost an end- less array of colours and shapes. As consumers embrace more and more creative installations, brands like Formglas are at the ready to make their visions a reality. Builders and homeowners aren't just looking for creative control over the look of their walls and ceilings: the functionality of these products is vital too. Luckily, as architectural hardware continues to evolve, building flexibility into spaces becomes easier. A wall that can simply slide out of the way to connect two rooms, or open up onto an outdoor space, is a surefire way to add both functionality and value. PC350 Architectural Interior Solutions is one company that specializes in such architectural walls: its sliding, swing, and barn-door systems create endless opportunities for floor plans. PC350's SRT-In-Line is one particular solution for projects that need an advanced architectural interior solutions. The Glass Office Front System responds effortlessly with conventional construction, and fastens directly to the ceiling without any additional support systems required by associated construc- tion trades, which reduces costs and time. In some ways, COVID-19 slowed things down for the wall and ceiling indus- try, but in other ways, it has been an opportunity to speed things up – research and development, for example. "Everybody's been able to revamp and reinvent," says Lyle Fuller, president of Wallworks. This time of intensive innovation has flooded the market with smartly designed new products. "Everyone and their friends are now offering polycore acoustic boards. Upholstered and wood acoustic products have also really improved over the past few years." The polycore boards Fuller sees in abundance right now are made from recycled plastic, but feature a felt-like finish. "If you're looking for texture and warmth, it's here … though, really, it comes in some colours so brilliant and bright, I don't even know if you'd really call them 'warm,'" says Fuller. Other recycled-material new products are coming down the pipe right now too, and all are acoustically exceptional – great for commercial or residential applications looking for sustainable, sound-dampening options. Another change happening in the sector as a result of COVID-19 is the increased awareness of health and airbourne illnesses and air-filtering acoustic partitions Design-friendly soft felt panels from Akustus.

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