Laminates might have been created as affordable substitutes for natural materials such as stone, marble and wood, but for designer Redzuan Abu Bakar, the creative director of interior design firm Ensemble, the material has far surpassed its humble beginnings. “In the past, laminates tend to look very ‘fake’ and people saw them as poor substitutes for natural materials, but now thanks to better technology, they have become extremely realistic-looking.” Adds the affable designer, “I’ve never regarded laminates as cheaper alternatives, I see them simply as materials that are really easy to maintain.”
This swish suite at One Degree 15 Marina features Lamitak’s Marmo Classico marble-look laminate on the console next to the wall.
That’s why he repeatedly turns to laminates for his projects. Ensemble is a three-year-old design firm with projects which runs the gamut from private residences to commercial projects such as shops and restaurants, and private housing developments. Most recently, in 2018, he designed the hotel suites of the prestigious One Degree 15 Marina in Sentosa Cove, where he specified Lamitak’s Marmo Classico and Nappa Leather laminates.
“It’s not about the material used; it’s whether you detail it correctly, and how well the designer knows the material,” says Redzuan. He surmises that even an expensive material such as marble can look cheap if used in the wrong way.
The leather-look Nappa Noir laminate used on the study table surface in this bedroom suite at One Degree 15 Marina is easier to maintain than natural leather, and gives the table a bespoke look.
By detailing, Redzuan is referring to how the material is paired with other materials or finished. For him, edgebands made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, or more commonly known as ABS, is a must to seal laminate edges and ensure a seamless look. Lamitak’s ABS edgebands are known as Newedge™. “I’ve always been a strong supporter of Lamitak because of their extensive Newedge™ range,” says the designer. “I like using their stone- and marble-inspired laminates such as Marmo Classico. We’ve put it on a desk in a project showroom with matching Newedge™, and people thought it was real marble.”
Used on the kitchen cabinetry, Lamitak’s Lava Slate laminate gives the kitchen of this open-plan apartment at Katong Gardens a sophisticated vibe, and makes the cabinets easy to wipe down as well.
Another Lamitak design Redzuan likes is from the company’s Nappa Leather range, which he uses to create upscale ‘leather’ surfaces for TV consoles, bedside tables and dressers. He says, “I frame the laminate with a stainless steel border and it looks really good. It’s about using laminates in a clever way.”
Redzuan is also partial to wood-inspired laminates, and prefers them to wood veneers. “Laminates eliminate the problem of differences in wood grain, knots, and so on, that are present in veneers. Most laypeople can’t tell the difference between laminate and veneer especially when the laminate is textured. We usually use veneer when it is the preference of the client.”
Ensemble designed local snack company Golden Duck’s kiosks around Singapore, which features Lamitak’s wood-look Liam Oak Giethoorn laminate to create the look of shipping crates. Pictured is a kiosk at Ion Orchard.
For homeowners new to renovations as well as dealing with materials such as laminates, what valuable advice does he have? Here are Redzuan’s top tips.
If you want to use a solid-colour laminate, choose one with a design and texture such as in Lamitak’s Stoffa range (which looks like fabric). We use it often for wardrobes.
Always use ABS edging if it’s available, with laminates.
Understand the limitations of the material and use it correctly. For example, most laminates come in eight-by-four-feet sheets, so keep in mind that there will be joint lines when used to clad a taller surface. You can circumvent this problem with wood-look laminates by laying the laminate sheets horizontally instead of vertically end-to-end. The woodgrain design will camouflage the joint lines.
All photos provided by Ensemble.
See the featured Lamitak laminates at the Lamitak Studio at 114 Lavender Street, CT Hub 2 #01-61 Singapore 338729. For more information, contact the studio at 6592-5200 and firstname.lastname@example.org; or drop by during the opening hours below
Monday to Thursday: 10.30am–6.30pm
Saturday: 10.30am - 4.30pm
Sunday and Public Holidays: 12.30pm – 4.30pm