Innovation & Sustainability: 5 Highlights from the Surface Design Show 2024

The Surface Design Show returned to the Business Design Centre in London this week. As an event media partner and host of the Legends Live series, Design Insider was thrilled to experience the show’s electric atmosphere first hand. The event stood out not just for its bustling crowds but also for the unique opportunity it presents to attendees to touch, feel, and interact with new materials—a vital experience that simply cannot be replicated online.

Surface Design Show welcomes 180 exhibitors and over 5000 visitors

The show was a hive of activity, with attendees engaging deeply with brands, diving into tactile samples, and filling every seat during the seminar programs. The energy was palpable, underscoring the importance of in-person interactions in our increasingly digital world.

Featuring innovative and tactile materials for our visitors to touch and feel, Surface Design Show is a truly ‘hands-on’ experience

Design Insider’s Top 5 Highlights from the Surface Design Show 2024

1. Launched: Take Back Service

Sustainability took centre stage with the introduction of innovative take-back and repurposing solutions aimed at extending material lifecycles. The show highlighted the significant investment in sustainable practices, from material innovation to comprehensive lifecycle management.

CDUK‘s Vita Nova launch was a prime example, engaging visitors with live demonstrations that emphasized the importance and feasibility of material repurposing.

CDUK is able to take back all surface materials from the portfolio, which includes Corian® Solid Surface, PaperStone®, Polygood® and Montelli® Surfaces

In the UK and Ireland alone, upwards of 450 tonnes of solid surface materials find their way into landfill sites annually. This encompasses waste material, off-cuts, end-of-life installations, damaged or faulty sheets, samples, and extraction dust. With Vita Nova, CDUK aims to tackle this continuous waste by encouraging the community of design, fabrication, and supply partners to act sustainably and return unwanted end-of-life surface materials.

CDUK urges reduced environmental impact by optimising the reuse of material from one installation at end-of-life, into another application beginning a new life

Through Vita Nova, CDUK can breathe new life into a kitchen worktop by transforming it into a wash trough, convert a cladding installation into a reception desk, or repurpose material from a residential application for a retail setting. Acting as a design partner throughout their specification journey, CDUK will then support designers in sourcing the finest products and materials to create sustainable and long-lasting designs, while offering expert advice, technical knowledge and training courses to learn how to unlock their full potential.

2. Surface Design Show Seminar Programme

The seminar programme stood out as a beacon for knowledge-seekers within the commercial sector, tackling the challenge of curating impactful discussions and showcasing leading voices in design. With over 40 speakers and 18 presentations, the Main Stage was a hub of innovation and insight. The programme’s success was evident in the packed rooms and the lively engagement from audiences, eager to participate and inquire. 

Alys Bryan in conversation with Tom Lloyd, Co-Founder of Pearson Lloyd

Highlights included the Opening Night Debate on Human Capital, Risk, and Retention, and our own Legends Live series led by Alys Bryan, alongside the insightful presentation on Rethinking Material Search with Noam Naveh from Stylab.

3. Celebrate New Talent

The New Talent showcase was a testament to the power of fresh perspectives in driving industry innovation. Unburdened by the usual constraints, these emerging designers presented bold ideas and solutions that promise to shape the future of design.

Highly aggregated Beetware offers an extremely durable surface. With the aid of sealant, it is also waterproof and heat resistant which is ideal for worktops and flooring.

Chloe Mountain showcase Beetware, a versatile and biodegradable material comprised of British ceramic and sugar production waste which represents the fundamental and exploratory solution to the coinciding environmental and economic issues both industries face.

ReCinder is suitable for tiling, tableware and furniture

Rosy Napper showcased ReCinder, a 100% recycled material made from discarded ceramic and waste ash that has been diverted from landfill. Developed as a greener alternative to industrially processed clay.

4. Surface Design Show Awards 2024

The Surface Design Show Awards breakfast ceremony set a high note for the day, celebrating global excellence in design with a panel of esteemed judges and entries from top design studios worldwide. The awards showcased an impressive array of materials and applications, highlighting the industry’s innovation and creativity.

Tarang Pavilion by The Grid Architects

The Tarang Pavilion in Gandhinagar, India, designed by The Grid Architects, was honoured as the Supreme Winner.

Woven House in Kent by Giles Miller Studio

The Exterior Surface of the Year award was won by Woven House in Kent by Giles Miller Studio. Judges praised its “clear craftmanship with biophilia cleverly being used out of context.” 

Huge congratulations to this year’s New Talent award, won by Studio Mafa, for their new sustainable material made from cow manure, Erth. ‘Cow manure is an abundant waste product of the agricultural industry, and is currently associated with environmental concerns. We have decided to do something about it.’

5. Trend: 3D Surfaces

This year, 3D surface finishes were a standout trend, showcasing an unprecedented variety in applications across materials like concrete, timber, and glass. From subtle textures to bold, geometric patterns, the diversity in style was impressive.

Havwood’s Simplista, 3d profiles in Wave, Milled and Ribbed designs available as paintable MDF surfaces

Havwoods‘ Elegant Veneers, Simplista, and Purepanels exemplify this trend’s potential.

Havwoods Elegante Veneers

Havwoods’ Elegant Veneers are meticulously milled in the rolling countryside of the Pesaro e Urbino province of central Italy, their new Elegante Veneers offer 3-dimensional beauty in intricate shapes that can add beauty and intrigue to any vertical surface.

Havwoods Elegante Veneers

Taking all the core elements of their standard Purepanels, hardwood veneers with MDF or Plywood core and elevates them to a new dimension. 3-Dimensional deep textures, geometric raised surfaces and organic shapes combine with smoked and natural real wood veneers to create truly unique panels.

Havwoods Purepanels

The Surface Design Show 2024 a vibrant celebration of innovation, sustainability, and community. At Design Insider we’re already looking forward to what next year will bring!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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