19 SEPTEMBER 2023

Material experiences in the kitchen environment

What if the choice of kitchen materials revealed the personality of the person choosing them?

The use of material can often become an expressive gesture of the designer who chooses it to configure unique emotional spaces for each client. Every material and specific texture reveal a precise sensory personality, whether rough, smooth, warm, cold, glossy, matte, velvety, regular, dynamic. The tendency to essentiality, the mania for hygiene, the nonconformist attitude, the constant desire for diversity, the need for certainty: materiality is an attitude that caresses the senses. Not only touch but also sight. It concerns the ability to read materials and interpret them by enhancing their virtues, choosing the most surprising processing and finishes to satisfy their functionality and aesthetics.

TM Italia | Cucina con isola in abete nero e acciaio inossidabile

Surface processing of woods for kitchens

Each surface will completely change its personality depending on the surface treatment. For example, wood for kitchen doors can be sanded to have a perfectly smooth surface (either glossy or matte), or it can undergo different coatings that highlight porosity, knots, cracks, or workmanship marks, depending on the character you want to achieve. Brushed oak is obtained by a special surface abrasion process (brushing) that involves removing the less fibrous part of the oak, so as to bring out the natural grain. Oak with knots is a material that highlights the features once considered flaws: the knots and irregularities, which testify to the natural elegance of the material. Saw-cutting is a technique that recreates the irregular marks of old carpenters’ tools with a marked, irregular surface, with tactile reliefs of varying depths arranged perpendicular to the board. This effect fits perfectly in both modern settings, contrasting with lacquers or uniform surfaces. Recycled wood can also become the hallmark with a strong tactile and visual character. These regeneration processes make it possible to give a second life to planks salvaged from various contexts such as mountain lodges that are characteristic for their imperfections that tell the story of the material’s history.

Particolari di cucine in pietra

Tactile shading of natural stone, quartz and stoneware kitchens

Natural stones are also valued for their inherent beauty and durability when choosing materials to furnish the kitchen environment. However, an often overlooked aspect of stones is their feel. The smooth or rough surface generates different tactile sensations and behaviors to light, which create a wide variety of “sensory nuances.”

One of the most common characteristics of natural stones is their smooth and generally cool surface, which can impart a feeling of tranquility and comfort. Natural stones can vary in tactile temperature. Some, such as marble, are cooler to the touch, while others, such as travertine, return warmer sensations.

Marbles are limestone conglomerates that in the process of metamorphic formation have generated veins and color varieties related to the multiplicity of minerals they contain. In ancient Greek, the word Màrmaros means “shining stone” and indicates the material’s ability to reflect light, especially when subjected to polishing treatment, which enhances the natural characteristics of the material and creates a perfectly smooth surface. However, the material can undergo other processes that confer different qualities: polishing, an abrasion that simulates natural aging and creates a matte surface; brushing, through the adoption of special abrasive discs that make the surface velvety and wavy near the grain; sandblasting, through a high-pressure jet of water and sand that make the surface homogeneous and opaque, lightening the dark tones due to the micro-refraction of light; flaming, through the action of heat that crystallizes the silicates, generating a rough, glassy appearance; bush-hammering, through repeated mechanical percussion with special tools, which create a coarse appearance on the surface similar to the natural appearance of rocks in nature; splitting, through mechanical action that acts on the geological structure of the material and generates a natural, irregular, rough appearance. Natural stones can have all the same treatments as marble with the exception of polishing.

Artisans frequently mix surface transformation techniques to achieve unique combinations and more textured tactile sensations.

TM Italia offers the possibility of applying natural stones to both worktops and backsplashes, as well as to doors. Thanks to the aero-nautical technology using the aluminum honeycomb structure that lightens the weight of the stone door, stone doors move lightly and allow a creation of a monolith in kitchen designs with an island.

Quartzes are agglomerates of mineral fragments, and their composition can be very different depending on the raw materials used. They present a natural visual irregularity and different tactile sensations. The surface is usually sanded to achieve a matte or velvety effect, or polished to achieve a shiny, super-smooth appearance.

Finally, stonewares are synthetic materials obtained by ceramic vitrification of powders (clays and sands). Visually they can be uniform or reproduce the textures of stones or other natural materials, but with limited value (depending on your point of view) of reproducibility and the absence of the unpredictable variations that nature always has in store. The surface can be matte, with varying degrees of roughness depending on the manufacturer, or mirror polished.

There are 29 types of natural stone, 20 types of quartz and 14 types of stoneware in TM Italia’s range.

Particolari di cucine metalliche

Steels, metals and metal foils

Metal surfaces have a uniform appearance and are distinguished by their gloss and thermal conductivity, which generates very cool and modern tactile sensations. The steel used for worktops and doors must first respond to performance aspects such as resistance to oxidation, staining, and bacterial growth. For this reason, stainless steel is used, a material that has undergone special treatments that confer great strength to the surface. Commercially it is disseminated with different types of surface abrasion: mirror-polished, which generates a smooth and reflective surface, but also requires a lot of cleaning to preserve this aspect; satin-finished, with a variable surface abrasion that generates a uniform surface and various levels of roughness; circular brushed, with circular brushing that creates a uniform surface characterized by circular micro abrasions that help to blur small stains or scratches. Unlike foils or metallic lacquers, these materials feel cool to the touch.

In addition to stainless steel, other metals can be used in kitchen design, some suitable for worktop and doors, others only for doors. In fact, other metals can be less resistant than stainless steel and can undergo thermal, mechanical, or chemical alteration treatments to characterize surfaces, achieving striking effects.

Corten metal, for example, is a special type of steel that develops a protective surface oxide patina when exposed to air and moisture. The creation of Corten metal requires a specific alloy of steel that is composed mainly of iron and a percentage of chromium, nickel, copper, and phosphorus. These elements give Corten steel its resistance to oxidation and the ability to develop the protective oxide patina. This patina gives the metal a distinctive rusty appearance.

The Peltrox finish recalls the appeal of pewter applied to a strong and durable material such as steel. It can be obtained through various techniques, including the application of special paints or the use of controlled acidizing processes. These methods aim to create an oxide patina on the surface of the metal without compromising its structural integrity. This processing results in a durable material with old-world charm.

TM Italia’s standard finishes include lacquered metals, such as the Antique Bronze finish, with the effect that recalls the tactility of brush bristles. This material is not suitable for countertops and food contact in general, but it generates great visual and tactile appeal on doors and fronts.

In contrast to metals, metal foils, are warm to the touch being very thin-about 0.3 mm. They can be made of gold, silver, bronze or copper and their application requires great skill. Squares of 60 mm leaf are carefully applied to the surface of the doors to create an incredibly bright and reflective effect.

TM Italia | Finiture metallilche

Glossy, matte, embossed, metallic and velvet lacquered surfaces

A variety of visual and tactile effects can be achieved with lacquering, depending on the finishing techniques and base material used.

Lacquering represents the uniform application of colour over the surface, usually wood. Pigments can be mixed to obtain infinite nuances, belonging to codified colour systems (such as RAL or NCS) or exclusive formulations included in the collection or developed ad-hoc for the customer. Pigmentation involves several coats of colour and eventual layers of transparent lacquer, which mainly has a protective function. Lacquering can be polished to obtain a smooth, reflective surface, or it can be satin-finished to obtain a matt appearance that diffuses light on the surface in different finishes, including glossy, matt, embossed or velvety, each with different tactile characteristics. Embossed lacquering, on the other hand, is a finishing technique that creates a rough surface texture. Finally, velvety or soft-touch lacquering is a finishing technique using special lacquers to create a matt, velvet-like surface that is soft to the touch. This type of finish provides a soft, delicate touch&feel, giving the sensation of a fine-grained surface that leaves no fingerprints.

Lacquering can also be applied on a smooth MDF panel, or on open-pore brushed oak veneer. The resulting surface is homogenous in the first case, and in the second allows the grain and natural porosity of the wood fibres to be visible, with an irregular surface and greater materiality.

TM Italia also offers special metallic lacquers that are created by mixing resin with metal particles to give brilliance and iridescence. They are still lacquers but with a more sophisticated result and a velvety or micro-roughened surface. Among the standard finishes, TM Italia offers lacquers that reproduce the appearance of, for example, oxidised steel, titanium, oxidised copper, brass, corten or dark bronze.

 

Cucina con isola in Fenix, design T45Evo&D90 | TM Italia

Fenix laminates

Fenix laminates are known for their exceptional quality and durability, but one of the aspects that make them truly unique is their tactile pleasantness. Thanks to the innovative technology used in their production, Fenix laminates offer a soft, velvety feel that leaves no fingerprints. This is due to the presence of an acrylic resin that is applied to the surface of the laminate during the manufacturing process. This resin creates a protective barrier that makes the laminate resistant to scratches, stains and heat, while at the same time giving a pleasant feel to the super-matt Fenix surfaces.
Another feature of Fenix laminates is their ability to repair surface micro-scratches. Thanks to the presence of resin particles in the surface of the laminate, small scratches that may occur over time can be easily repaired by applying heat to the surface. This process activates the resin particles, which recompact and repair the scratches, making the surface smooth and even to the touch again.

TM Italia | Colonne vetrina

Glass

Crystals give translucence to furniture and can create striking visual lightness effects when backlit. In kitchens, they can be used as an opal (applied to a solid wooden substrate) or transparent (applied to a metal frame) covering surface. The surface finishes of the glass can be satin or glossy, generating a different response to light and a different degree of transparency. Satin-finished crystals diffuse light and have a very modern character. Polished crystal reflects light and creates transparency, giving the furniture great elegance, especially when treated with bronze or grey metal coatings. For the Rua model, 4 mm thick Belgian Scannellato glass is proposed applied to an anthracite metal perimeter frame. Belgian fluted glass is a type of decorative glass characterised by an undulating surface with vertical grooves that creates a highly refined visual effect, evoking the nostalgic atmosphere of hand-crafted glass.
The glass applied to the doors (opaline) is a 3 mm thick tempered extra-clear, which is back-lacquered on request with one of the 32 standard finishes or any other colour of your choice.

TM Italia | Finiture di Ecomalta

Tactile surfaces for eco-malta kitchens

This special resin is created by mixing natural oils with various pigments or minerals of different granularity, such as sand or crushed shells. The result is an environmentally friendly material, composed of 40% certified recycled aggregates, which allows for the creation of large, smooth surfaces that can be modelled during coating, offering different tactile experiences. The application of the material is strictly manual and the result will therefore be different in each realisation. In addition to coating, embossing can be performed, using different patterns that create three-dimensional effects. Surfaces similar to aged leather, drapery or old plaster are thus obtained.

TM Italia | Ante con decorazione tridimensionale

3D surfaces for a tactile 2.0 experience

Wooden panels can be subjected to numerically controlled milling processes, which create visual and tactile patterns. An example of this three-dimensional processing are the doors of the Rua model, in which the removal of the material brings to light the core of the coloured panel. The Miuccia doors, on the other hand, feature the original three-dimensional processing, with alternating and symmetrical decorative modules. Other 3D surfaces can be produced according to design, such as the complex three-dimensional processing with a matt gold finish that evokes the soft vertical drape of precious fabrics, or the doors with regular vertical millings that accentuate the brilliance of the metal finish.

TM Italia | Cucina con isola e ante a scomparsa, design T45