Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces is among the world's leading manufacturers and distributors of innovative, high-performance surfaces. Wilsonart manufactures and distributes High Pressure Laminate, Quartz, Solid Surface, Coordinated TFL and Edgebanding, and other engineered surfaces for use in the office, education, healthcare, residential, hospitality and retail markets.

The company, headquartered in Austin, Texas, is continually evolving, improving and adding products to meet the surfacing needs of modern consumers. To learn what's new at Wilsonart and what's planned, Surface & Panel interviewed President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy J. O'Brien.

Q. What makes Wilsonart one of the world's most innovative surfacing companies?

A. Wilsonart is more than a laminate or quartz company. We are an engineered surfaces company. At Wilsonart, we offer multiple solutions for all your surfacing needs. This provides our customers with more than just great designs, but also the ability to choose the right design, the right texture, and the right performance, at a price that fits their budget.

We’re making fingerprint-resistant, water-resistant, scratch- and scuff-resistant, and soft-touch innovations the standard for surfacing products. Because we’re a company that believes a consumer's everyday life deserves luxury materials that work hard and are easy to maintain.

Q. Can you tell us about some of the surface innovations that are really taking off?

        A. Here are four of the most exciting innovations developed by Wilsonart:

  • Traceless: This is our fingerprint-resistant laminate that was introduced at KBIS this year. Featuring a smooth and velvety feel, Traceless eliminates smears, smudges and streaks, making it perfect for high-touch areas such as cabinets and countertops.
  • Textures: Aligned Texture is a first-of-its-kind technological breakthrough that synchronizes pattern and dimensional texture for a realistic woodgrain look; it is currently available in six oak designs. We’ll be rolling it out to other wood species in the future. In addition, we just launched Soft Silk, which is a new ultra-matte, true-to-stone finish.
  • AEON Technology: This is a proprietary technology integrated directly into our Wilsonart HD and Premium Laminate products to ensure they perform with above-industry-average scratch- and scuff-resistance.
  • RE-COVER: This is a quick-fix, peel and stick laminate product that can be adhered directly on top of existing laminate to immediately update a space.

Q. In your opinion, what's next in surfacing for residential interiors?

A. We believe being able to blend performance and an enhanced haptic experience with design will be the new standard for interiors. Surfaces are going beyond beautiful design and need to bring superior performance.

Material Mixology, the mixing and layering of materials, continues to grow in popularity for kitchen and baths because it allows consumers to be creative and blend their unique style preferences. No other company can provide a mixed-material solution like Wilsonart Engineered Surfaces.

Customization has also become customary. With new designs launching every quarter, our Virtual Design Library offers more than 450 design options. To meet the needs of the custom market, our WilsonartXYou program allows consumers the ability to develop a personalized creation in four easy steps.

Quartz is one of the hottest engineered surface materials on the market today. For the first time last quarter, according to Stone Update magazine, Quartz demand exceeded granite in the U.S. With the advancements in design and manufacturing technology, we have been able to provide more natural stone-inspired looks that our customers gravitate towards. Of course, we also have a variety of whites and marbles, which are still very popular. Solid Surface is also making a comeback as a nonporous surface available in designs that mimic natural stones.

Q. How important is it for Wilsonart to stay on top of residential trends?

A. It's imperative. We value what the market demands, and we pride ourselves on staying ahead of the trends through research, design councils, trendspotting trips, and most important, listening to our customers and designers from around the world.

Q. How is the company incorporating elements of these trends into its product offering?

A. A great example of this is our new Wilsonart THINSCAPE Performance Tops, which are versatile and highly durable, solid color core surfaces. We have combined large-scale marble looks with soft-touch finishes and an impact-resistant solid slab creating a beautiful high-performance product. Installers love it because it's easier to work with than porcelain options.

Q. Are there any exciting new projects in the works that Wilsonart will share with us soon?

A. In addition to the THINSCAPE Performance Top product, we are introducing a new Wet Wall solution in the U.S. This is an example of bringing a successful product from Europe to North America. Wet Wall allows us to put beautiful designs and performance into the bathroom.

We are also thrilled about a recent collaboration. We are working closely with designer, TV host and magazine editor Danny Seo on a collection of designs developed over the last two years that features “cracked ice” patterns. As Danny likes to put it, "Inspiration is everywhere in nature, and it seems glaciers are the last untapped design resources."

We're also very excited to be expanding our distribution footprint for Solid Surface by opening our first state-of-the-art manufacturing plant here in Temple, Texas. This plant, which will be more than 135,000 square feet, will allow us to continue to develop on-trend designs along with some additional capabilities that will be announced later this year.

Q. How has Wilsonart transformed in the last 10 years?

A. Wilsonart has transformed from a U.S. High Pressure Laminate company to a global engineered surfaces company. Because we now offer Quartz, Solid Surface, TFL and other surfaces, we are working hard to become a trusted advisor when it comes to choosing what product is best for each and every customer. One thing that has not changed is our commitment to service so your project is on time every time.