The Scoop at K/BIS 2011

200_cambriaWith natural stone in short supply at top design show, quartz gets top billing for countertop options. Popular this year: either lots of movement, or pure, PURE white.

LAS VEGAS – Sure, there’s going to be griping and grumbling about giving the spotlight to products other than natural stone -- like that slab of Cambria quartz in the upper left. However, when it comes to the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (K/BIS) this week, manufactured products took all the action.

The number of stone vendors at this year’s big designer/distributor event really didn’t even amount to a handful among the several halls of products at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Aside from Antolini Luigi & C.’s efforts, dimensional stone appeared mainly as part of the mix in exhibit booths, next to bits of ceramic tile in accent pieces.

The big countertop/vanity stars here are solid surface and quartz, with the latter making the most impact. From materials looking more like stone to a race for the purest pure white, quartz producers offered beefy amounts of new products.

Here’s a quick rundown by company, in alphabetical order:

CAMBRIA – The Eden Prairie, Minn., quartz producer produced the usual big-name draw – this year, with Mariel Hemingway at an in-booth kitchen – but the real star for the Eden Prairie, Minn., company is the new Waterstone Collection, with a dozen new colors offering something closer to natural stone than previous products.

200_Cambria_Torquay_1Click photo to enlargeThe Waterstone Collection comes in light and dark colors, and – as the company puts it in a release – “many designs are reminiscent of granite and marble.” The difference from standard quartz is a randomization of pattern and hints of veining to produce visual movement. It’s not an exact copy, which Cambria isn’t trying to claim, either.

Experienced stone hands will see the difference from quarried product in an instant. Still, it’s a major move away from the mixed-chip look of many quartz surfaces. Cambria says that Waterstone slabs should be shipping in May.

COSENTINO GROUP – After heading down the recycled route (ECO) and leathered surfaces (Volcano) in the past year or so, the Spanish producer of Silestone® presented its take on granite and marble with the Galactic and Nebula series, respectively. The former includes six colors mixed mainly from a brown/silver/black palette, while the latter gives a half-dozen colors in various hues and mixtures of green, white and black.

200_regaderos_Silestone080Click photo to enlargeCosentino went beyond patterns, though, with its White Zeus Extreme, a very solid, very white-on-white color with enough brightness to put the purest porcelain out to pasture. The purity specs on the white color means that the waste on this color is higher than other in production, but it’s extremely attractive to contemporary designers. Cosentino also offers an Integrity Sink from the same quartz materials for a pristine no-seam look. (The Infinity is also available in other matching Silestone colors.)

Other new Silestone colors include Cemento, a concrete-like gray; White Platinum, a mainly white base with silver accents; and Rosso Monza, a red that’s near spot-on to the hues from one of motor racing’s most-famous team. (Hint: think tifosi.)