Pentagram, the world’s largest independent design consultancy, created the Anniversary Collection exclusively for Formica Group. Pentagram partner Abbott Miller designed the Anniversary patterns, introducing characteristics and colours that are new to the range.
“Developing this iconic brand’s 100-year Anniversary Collection was inspiring,” Abbott asserts. “Formica laminate is extraordinary because of its chameleon-like qualities: it has a stealthy presence and an ability to adapt to different environments. Because of its adaptability, it manages to embody the past, present and future. It’s a material with distinctive tactility, a warmth and domesticity; it’s man-made, yet has attained a natural quality in our lives.”
Abbott’s vision for the Formica Laminate Anniversary Collection underscores the material’s limitless design potential. “The heart and soul of Formica laminate is a printed sheet. Pattern and colour are intrinsic to the culture of the company, so exploring the translucency of ink and the interaction of pattern and colour was a natural area for me.”
The collaboration has produced 12 new patterns in four collections: Ellipse, Endless, Dotscreen and Halftone. Endless creates a digital grain from bars that alternately layer and punch through a coloured base. The result is a continuous tone-on-tone, architectural pattern that provides visual interest at close range and, from a distance, provides a geometric texture. Dotscreen and Halftone celebrate Formica Group’s history of exuberant colour and printing technology. Both Dotscreen and Halftone feature ‘solid patterns’ of bright and saturated colours made more complex by undercurrents of detailed patterning. Fine dot motifs provide a second scale of interest within the optimistic hues. Dotscreen features luminous colours with extremely fine micro-dots in continuous ribbons. Halftone features ‘near-bright’ colours patterned with various sizes of toned dots, reminiscent of halftone printing screens.
Ellipse and Endless play off the anniversary theme Formica Forever by utilising innovative printing techniques that allow independent layers of pattern to randomly interact during the course of printing. The method creates seemingly infinite patterns that appear consistent due to the fluidity of the overlapping elements. Unlike most patterns that repeat every 50in, the pattern repeat of Ellipse and Endless only occur every 500 to 700 sheets, the equivalent to more than a mile in length.
Each Anniversary Collection pattern contains a subtle, tone-on-tone Formica brand watermark embedded into the design on every sheet.
“The patterns and colours of the Anniversary Collection acknowledge the brand’s past – especially with designers such as Brooks Stevens and Raymond Loewy – but without delving into nostalgia,” Abbott says. “While the collection aligns with the brand’s heritage, it offers surfacing design that is unique in the market. It also was satisfying to know that we were pushing the technical boundaries of print.”
In addition to the Anniversary Collection, Pentagram’s Abbott and partners Michael Bierut and Daniel Weil collaborated on Formica Group’s anniversary brand elements, Formica Forever book and display concept.