surfacing materials

Surfacing Materials: More than Meets the Surface: Kimball Office Surface Materials Platform

While a new product line might not necessarily rate as top A&D news on the majority’s radar (after all, hundreds of new products are released each season), a collection that offers its manufacturer the potential to refresh its brand and play ball in a highly competitive market certainly is going to make headlines. Such is the case with Kimball Office’s new Surface Materials platform, designed in collaboration with Eva Maddox and Eileen Jones, design principals at Perkins+Will, along with their team of talented designers.

Kimball Office launched the new Surface Materials platform in January—the first introduction being the Vision Collection, which features more than 70 panel and seating fabrics—with the aim of not only providing designers with comprehensive collections that offer “diversity in terms of all different materials that would integrate across all product lines,” says Georgy Olivieri, director of architecture and design strategies, Kimball Office.

So far only the Vision Collection is available to designers, as Kimball Office has chosen to launch the various facets of the platform on a staggered schedule in order to give itself time to successfully bring together all the pieces. However, future introductions soon will follow, ranging from woods (which Olivieri says will be next) to paints, to additional upholsteries and other finishes.

All elements of the lines will coordinate perfectly with other platform materials, giving designers a convenient solution in an easy-to-order process, while providing a fresh point of view that Jones describes as “both classic and reflective of current market trends and formatted to allow trend influences and impacts on a cyclical basis, ultimately giving design choice and confidence to the specifier.”

Kimball Office Vision CollectionBehind the scenes, the fledgling platform serves a dual purpose that brings benefit to its parent, as well. According to Maddox, who notably was named by Contract magazine as the 2011 Legend Award recipient, the platform has the potential to change the brand of Kimball Office and reinvent the stodgy image of the manufacturer. “Surface materials will appeal to a broader audience who specify volume installations,” she says. “It gives Kimball Office a competitive position with the larger manufacturers who have favored textile lines and finishes with the design community.”

Olivieri adds, “We were going for state-of-the-art yet staid collections that would remain relevant for 20 years but also offer more trendy family of introductions, such as bright fuchsia, that could be refreshed every few years.” This is exemplified in the Vision collection, which includes an alliance of designer fabrics from Maharam, Carnegie, KnollTextiles, and Mayer Fabrics with Kimball Office’s own in-line offerings. Showcased are solid textures, stripes, leather, and faux leather, as well as 19 healthcare-specific fabrics that feature a variety of antimicrobial, bleach-cleanable, and moisture barrier options.

In today’s market, it’s providing comprehensive options—offering smart buying decisions and more foundational options for clients on their preferred products—that will allow a manufacturer “to be competitive in a very aggressive market,” Maddox says, “where the ‘look and feel’ of materials and finishes are selected based on a classical framework, with a with a trend/forward expectation from the user.”


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