Faux is a French word that means fake so yes, faux is fake. At one time, ‘fake’ would be associated with only negative words like artificial, imitation, or even cheap. Yet, faux has become the new cool fashion statement. In 2017, we may not even perceive some interior design items as faux. Advancements in material science and technology have made faux items appear and feel non-distinguishable from the natural or genuine articles.
Aristotle said, “Art completes what nature cannot bring to a finish. The artist gives us knowledge of nature’s unrealized ends.” (Physics of Aristotle).
In this quote, we understand him to be describing the “useful arts” such as shipbuilding, which I will allow myself to extend into the built environment. I believe that we are constantly attempting to imitate the organic, the natural and the real to achieve a more perfect product. By this statement, I mean a product which will:
- function at a higher level
- have an equal or better price point
- be as, or more beautiful than its counterpoint
We do all of this while not harming the earth or its living beings. The following are some of the faux options the interior design industry has been producing for our benefit – be it for economy, enjoyment, freedom from allergies, performance enhancement or simply color.
The Vinyl Institute boasts that they can manufacture synthetic materials which perform longer and better, thereby increasing value while conserving natural resources. One example is the plastic wear coating on wood as well as linoleum floors. As an interior designer, I can attest to this claim and have been specifying vinyl floors of different varieties in the healthcare and corporate industries as well as homes. They are almost maintenance-free and at times imitate an excellent wood floor, can be quite colorful and are malleable enough to produce a beautiful logo on the floor.
Faux fur is any material made of synthetic fibers designed to resemble fur. Commercially available since the 1950s, its popularity has been credited to its promotion by animal rights and animal welfare organizations which claim that it is an animal-friendly alternative to traditional fur and a versatile fabric for interior design. Because it is synthetic, it does not require breeding animals and then processing the fur. Two distinct disadvantages are faux fur’s lack of breathability, and it does not recycle easily like its natural counterpart.
Synthetic leathers, at times made from plastics, are often used in fabrics and even extend to the luxury car industry. Artificial leather is marketed under many names including leatherette, faux leather, vegan leather, PU leather, and pleather.
In the interior design industry, we use faux leather in corporate, healthcare, hospitality and residential design. For some of the same reasons we use faux fur, we like the durability, price point, its role as an animal-friendly alternative, as well as the color options and the luxurious textures. It is a pleasure to work with these fabrics and to have them enhance our designs.
Laminates have been around for many years. You may remember them from the “boomerangs” of the 1950s diners to the craze of laminate furniture throughout the home in the 1980s. Laminates are produced on a substrate with a layer on top of a decorative paper and pressed with thermoprocessing. Laminates used in cabinetry and on counters are “molded and cured” at very high pressures and project images of the natural world of which we are very familiar.
The reason I am including laminates as a faux category is because they are now appearing as faux woods, leathers, metals and other visuals in cabinetry, on wall panels and elsewhere. The photos that are sandwiched into these laminates are printed with such high resolution capabilities that we have difficulty deciphering whether they are the real thing or not. It’s a wonderful option since technology has also advanced and cabinetmakers can now make doors and edges without the old black edge line, and it provides an alternatively priced option.
Counters are always a big topic of discussion – man-made or natural – and then if man-made, which one? No surface is perfect and potential problems can occur with any material, or you could go a lifetime without any issue. One of the most common issues is marble stains. Marble is big in Europe where they are aware and appreciate marble’s characteristics. We, not so much. So if you don’t want stains, don’t do marble countertops!
If you do not want seams, go with Corian or a similar product. Corian is a man-made product which can be seamlessly fabricated for counters. There are several solid colors, it wears well and can be repaired and rebuffed.
Two of the strongest, most dense, and least porous countertops are granite (being the natural) and quartz (being the faux). They have excellent characteristics but both may scratch slightly on the surface. The price point is about the same with Cambria countertops and other similar quartz surfaces such as Silestone, Caesarstone, or Zodiac which are about as expensive as granite ranging from $45 to $120 per square foot and most around $60 to $80.
Overall, I do think faux is chic in interior design, and I believe that the evolution of faux materials has enhanced our interior design capabilities. Would you like to learn more about using faux products or materials in your renovation or home design? Call Pat Valentine Ziv at 201 233-4636 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
photo credit: Formica dECOLeather, www.formica.com