“When we were approached by Laminex, it was an obvious and mutual love of custom joinery between us, as it is a large and favoured part of what we do at CJH Studio,” describes Cassie James-Herrick, the Director of the Victorian interior design practice. Renowned for the use of natural materials, affinity for diversity of tones and textures – and the visionary design language that blurs the line between joinery and furniture, the studio creates spaces defined by confident softness, layered materiality and comfort of considered functionality.
This collaboration offered CJH Studio an opportunity to work with the immersive selection of colours and finishes of the Laminex Colour Collection, to create four bespoke, imaginative spaces that would showcase the unbound design potential of Laminex Woodgrains. The range offers designers and specifiers a broad selection of colours and finishes – with a highly curated choice of timber-like designs – alongside outstanding moldability, strength and durability.
“We wanted to challenge not only the traditional application of the material in various ways, but highlight unique ways to customise the product within the designs by incorporating various techniques and bespoke details,” Cassie explains. Each interior features a selection of different grains, finishes and textures – often in wonderfully unexpected ways – to create a personal and nuanced residential environment that defies convention.
The purposeful magnificence of mixed grains
In the kitchen, CJH Studio explored the notion of combining various Laminex Woodgrains products to achieve a seamless yet intricate interior. Both the cabinetry and the benchtop have been clad in warm Laminex Aged Ash in chalk finish, with two vertical panels framing the area, and showcasing the thoughtfully differing directions of grains.
Further melting away any sense of monotonous repetition, a lighter shade of the Laminex Milkwood woodgrain has been used to accentuate the sculptural character of the surrounding upstand that organically wraps around the bench top, and glides down all the way to the floor.
“I wanted to play on and show that Woodgrains can be mixed successfully in one space, softening yet highlighting their texture with curves, and ensuring a soft and streamlined consistency from bench area to cabinetry internals,” Cassie shares. “The kitchen became a conceptual response both utilising and highlighting the Woodgrain range to its full potential, all whilst aiming to achieve a higher end feel.”
The unexpected curvature of form
The invigorating dialogue of different grains and textures is accentuated by the gentle curvature of the joinery – yet another unique feature made possible by the outstanding moldability of the laminate. The robust bend of the bulkhead, which runs horizontally above the benchtop, melts into the splashback in one, smooth movement. Its organic silhouette is repeated in drawers and in the shelves of the pantry.
“The use of multiple curves lets the minimal kitchen design play on form, function, shadow play and materiality, with many highly considered design details the further you discover and use the space,” Cassie says. “The curves also created a visual response to counter how we generally see the product being used as well as seamlessly integrating the product across all planes.”
Breaking the mould
The unexpected allure of the curves has been achieved through a combination of two manufacturing processes: cold and post-forming. The kitchen bulkhead was created through cold forming, which sees the substrate curved to a desired shape, with the laminate adhered to its surface. Used to create other larger pieces – like the striking kitchen plinth in the darker shade of Laminex Danish Walnut – the process is utilised to create more robust shapes, and highlights the material’s capacity to construct bespoke forms and furniture. In contrast, the process of post-forming was used to generate some of the smaller design features, such as bullnose detailing of the kitchen bench top or handles.
Both techniques were used in creating the bathroom space – Cassie’s “personal folly” – which showcases the beauty of the woodgrain from every angle. The quiet confidence of this area is defined by the alluring seamlessness of curves that accentuate the intimate character of the vanity. Subtly set off from the rear mirror, the basin vanity heroes the gentle grain of Laminex Milkwood utilized across its doors and the top in lieu of a stone surface.
The gentle beauty of the woodgrain continues uninterrupted across the sizable horizontal panels which frame the vanity and cleverly conceal the European-style laundry. “Although minimal in its design, this intentionally let the strength of the product amplify across large curved elements, and thoughtful detailing in the full height custom handles,” Cassie explains.
Revealing the unexpected
Laminex Woodgrains’ capability to create truly bespoke design elements isn’t apparent only in the minimalist refinement of the bathroom. In the living space, the elevated, light mid-tones of Laminex Danish Walnut in chalk finish take centre stage to generate a versatile interior that addresses the pragmatic need for multifunctionality, while invigorating the interior with a sense of clever, whimsical interaction.
On one side of the room, the neat desk clad in Laminex Sublime Teak in chalk finish can be closed away and concealed as part of the design when not in use. On the opposing end, an eye-catching bar – fashioned using the opulent Laminex Mirror Smoke – can be closed off, passing as an oversized jewellery box that generates a beautiful palette with a warmer tone floorboard.
This notion of interactive functionality has also been incorporated in the bedroom and robe design. Once again blurring the line between the joinery and the furniture, CJH Studio’s affinity for the bespoke is expressed through a range of smart and charming storage solutions. The makeup tray is hidden within the desk, keeping the space clean when not in use – and revealing a cleverly placed mirror and storage space, visually accentuated through the use of a contrasting shade of Laminex Raw Cotton, upon opening.
The signature curves find their way into the robe, where the smooth arch of the back panel in Laminex Elegant Oak elevates the pared-back custom hanging rail and softens the more linear aspects of the space. The bend of the panel gracefully flows all the way down to the floor, where the neutral shade and directional grain are elevated by the contrasting design of the Laminex Catalana Marble. Creating a sense of subtle drama, this application shifts the notion of where marble-like materials are traditionally used – and highlights the potential of designing high-end interiors with Laminex.
Benefits without the burdens
The Laminex Woodgrains enabled Cassie and team to create warm spaces anchored in the natural beauty and malleability of wood, without burdening the potential of the applications with the limitations traditionally associated with timber – and the complexities often underpinning timber selection.
“The textural element provided by the chalk finish ensures the woodgrain doesn’t appear too flat like its natural counterpart,” Cassie says. “Using a woodgrain laminate removes the process of selecting real timber grains, its species, crowning type, followed by the process of stain colour finishes as well as lacquer finishes and gloss levels – all of which is a challenging process even for experienced specifiers and makers alike.”
Alongside its durability, practicality and the ability for the material to be used across kitchens and bathrooms, Cassie calls out another significant design advantage. “For me the major appeal lies in its consistency in both timber grain and stain colour,” she says. “Having complete control of the final outcome with Woodgrains is a real advantage. The mixing of grain direction is a very intentional design detail across the spaces, as well as combining other woodgrains and other products from their range – metallics, stone effect and their colour accents – together in the space.” Defined by soft volumes, unexpected fluidity of form and layered precision of textures, CJH Studio created inviting and intuitive environments that curiously apply the unbound capabilities of the Laminex Woodgrains Collection – and yield an imaginative fusion of unique style, conceptual creativity and sophisticated functionality.