In the past, veneer was considered inferior to solid wood, especially for furniture. This is no longer the case today, as the competition in the range of products on offer has changed: Today, most cupboards, chests of drawers and modular furniture are made of wood-based panels with a foil coating. These may look like wood or lacquer, but are foil covered and therefore not particularly ecological.
At the end of their life cycle, such furniture cannot be separated into its component parts and is therefore not recyclable. This is different for furniture with veneer surfaces. As real wood, veneer is a quality product of special ecological quality.
A thick log of wood is cut thinly for veneer production and many square metres of real wood surface are created, which are then applied to wood-based panels. At the end of their useful life, these pieces of furniture can be separated according to type, recycled or even composted. This makes veneer the thinnest solid wood in the world.
Veneer in trend
More and more end customers prefer natural materials, as the ecological fingerprint of products is increasingly being questioned. The high media profile of the corona pandemic is only an apparent distraction from this issue. On the contrary, Corona has even exacerbated many ecological issues, such as the sense of air travel to meetings or the appalling production conditions in the meat industry.
People are more and more interested in buying products that are made from renewable natural materials and where less or no toxic material is released in the production process. And to buy less energy-intensive products and to be responsible for less waste. This is how the traditional material veneer gains in attractiveness, because veneer is an authentic, natural and ecological material.
Classically, veneer is used as a surface material in furniture construction and interior design. But also in the lifestyle sector there are more and more products such as spectacle frames, handbags, lampshades, mouse pads, smart phone covers, hotel room, bank and customer cards or tableware and cutlery made of veneer. Veneer is absolutely in vogue.
Popular are brushed, saw-roughened, fibre-rough, wavy planed and chopped optics - also individually printed according to customer specifications. When it comes to printing inks for veneer, more and more ecological dyes made from natural materials are scoring points. For example, pulverised grasses and herbs, colourful flower fibres, coloured roots, crushed stones and charcoal are increasingly used to colour the surface of veneer.
Charcoal makes veneer dark grey to black. Black is a colour that is back in fashion for furniture. Black is the least colourful of all colours and is therefore the colour of choice. About half of all furnishing experts consider black to be discreet and elegant. The other half of interior designers consider black to be obtrusive, dominant and sometimes dull.
The fact is that black furniture and furnishings are inconspicuous, are not perceived as disturbing and do not restrict the space. They make it look rather infinitely wide like a night sky. Black furniture and furnishings can also be combined well with all the bright colours, patterned upholstery fabrics on upholstered furniture or curtains.
Besides dyeing with natural materials, so-called ash oak veneers are also popular in the black colour spectrum. Here the veneer surfaces are fired with real fire, making them look black and as if burnt. The surface is then preserved to make it resistant to abrasion.
Not because of its colour, but because of its traditional but today industrially and therefore economically feasible composition, a new trend towards geometrically arranged veneer surfaces is emerging. The different veneer tiles, which are mathematically precisely matched to each other, are combined to create ever new surface designs. Surprising design possibilities for floors, walls and ceilings, but also for pieces of furniture, are created in the handicraft covering technique of inlay.
A further innovation transforms veneer into a dynamic natural material of unheard-of softness. This micro-perforated veneer can best be compared to finely woven elastic natural fibre. The soft wood is suitable for a wide range of applications. In interior design for soundproofing elements or as upholstery fabric for upholstered furniture, in the lifestyle sector as a vegan leather substitute for shoes, handbags and clothing.
All these trends show the innovative power of our veneer industry, which is rich in tradition, and its will to successfully meet the future. Many of these innovations and other ideas will be presented by the members of our Initiative Furnier + Natur (IFN) at the interzum 2021 in Cologne as exhibits for the arriving visitors and digitally for the other interested parties worldwide. Prior to this, IFN will be showing a small selection of the many possibilities offered by and with veneer at its information stand at the imm cologne in January 2021. We look forward to your visit.