In the past few decades, remarkable and rapid discoveries in materials technology have changed every aspect of our lives. Interior design, in particular, was revolutionized with the development of “solid surface material.”
Of course, anyone will tell you that any surface you’re likely to find in our built environments — our houses, our workplaces and leisure spots — is a solid surface. But in architecture and design, the words “solid surface material” used together mean something specific. And that something has drastically changed the way we look at interior spaces.
Before solid surface material
Think about your bathroom sink. Until the last quarter of the 20th century, nearly every sink was made of the same thing: porcelain. Glazed and fired clay. That’s what we had been making sinks out of for more than two centuries. And that’s understandable. Porcelain is durable, resistant to stains and scratches. It can be shaped and colored in lots of ways. And it’s relatively affordable. You might also occasionally see a plastic sink, but they didn’t offer nearly the durability of porcelain. Stone sinks can be very attractive, but also prohibitively expensive for most homeowners. And metal sinks, while they might fit into industrial-style designs, aren’t what most people have in mind for a home bathroom.
Then around 1970, a chemist for DuPont combined mineral particles with acrylic polymers to hold them together to create the material DuPont patented as Corian — and bathroom and kitchen design changed forever.
When DuPont’s patent expired, other manufacturers jumped into producing similar materials. What the industry had generically referred to as Corian was now being marketed by several different companies under several different brands, so the industry adopted one clumsy (but very accurate) name for all of it: solid surface material.
Why solid surface material is different
A porcelain fixture has layers. For mass-produced sinks, clay paste is injected into a mold, then pressed and baked. Glaze is applied — white or colored — and then the piece is fired in a kiln. Because of those layers, a porcelain sink may not be uniform in color or finish. Also, remember that porcelain is similar to glass, so even with that glaze on the clay, it’s prone to chipping, scratching and even cracking. And if you clean it too aggressively or with something too abrasive, you can dull the finish.
Our solid surface material, though, is just that: solid. It’s homogeneous — what you see on the outside as the same as what’s on the inside. So there’s no variation in color or finish. Scratches, if they happen, are much less noticeable. And unlike porcelain or stone, some surface damages can be repaired.
Another feature of our solid surface material is the possibilities it opens up for colors and finishes. Porcelain can only be offered with a shiny glaze; it has to be there to protect the porous clay underneath. That can be very attractive, but it limits your design choices.
A solid surface material can also be polished to a shiny finish, or, as you’ll find in our Westin round vessel sink, a white matte finish. The remarkable properties of the material mean the bowl feels cool and almost soft to the touch, but it’s smooth, durable and easy to clean. The Westin is an example of the elegant simplicity we love at S2, made possible by the materials we choose.
The Westin is an above-counter design, meaning it sits on your countertop. The drain is centered in the bowl, and the overflow inlet opens into an interior channel. So all you see is … a perfectly formed, simple, white bowl. The effect is very much like an elegant piece of pottery; a vase or even a piece of sculpture. But unlike those, the Westin is durable enough to sit exposed and serve as a sink for many years. And because it sits on the surface, the counter and cabinetry below are also highlighted to their best advantage.
Solid surface material isn’t all we do
At S2 Design, we always select the best material for the effect we — and you — are looking for. So we offer sinks and surfaces in other materials as well.
But for the Westin vessel, our solid surface material is the ideal choice: modern simplicity in design that gives just the right touch to your space, combined with everyday performance you’ll love and easy care that ensures it will last.