Exploring Trends in the Canadian Wood Industry: Insights from the Richelieu Trends Event 2024

The Richelieu Trends Event, held on June 6 in Mississauga, serves as a vital conduit for introducing European trends and innovations to the Canadian wood industry. This biennial event, strategically scheduled post-Eurocucina, highlights cutting-edge developments in materials and design. The 2024 edition brought together industry leaders and innovators to showcase their latest products and share insights on emerging trends. This article delves into the key trends identified during the event, drawing extensively from the insights shared by various industry experts.

Panels: Decorative Surfaces

The demand for innovative decorative surfaces is transforming the aesthetics and functionality of wood products in the Canadian market. One prominent trend is the adoption of super matte, anti-fingerprint finishes. The new Eclipse collection by Uniboard, featuring such technology, is available across various designs, including solids, wood grains, and abstracts. This innovation is part of a broader trend towards rustic wood grains and detailed textures, which are now achievable with advanced laminates like thermally fused laminates (TFL). “Rustic wood grains with big arching cathedrals that used to try to be graded out of traditional wood veneer are now very popular in both traditional wood veneer and TFL,” explained Mike Rolston, Regional Sales Manager at Uniboard Canada.

 

Pastel colors and matte textures are also gaining popularity. “A lot of solid prints and pastel colors are what’s trending and expected to come throughout 2024 into 2025,” noted Matthew Hunter from Tafisa Canada. This trend is being driven by innovations at production facilities like Tafisa’s new Lumia plant in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which utilizes European lacquering technology to produce high gloss and “perfect matte” finishes. “Lumia is a brand-new production facility that Tafisa built in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. It’s a European lacquering technology that we are manufacturing here in Canada,” Hunter explained. “It is the first of its kind in North America.”

Sustainability is another critical trend, with an increasing focus on eco-friendly materials. “Our Duroply external panel is lightweight, the substrate is guaranteed for 15 years, and everything with Garnica is carbon net positive,” emphasized Freya Hannah, Garnica Plywood Representative.

The market is also seeing a shift towards combining different technologies in decorative surfaces. Miguel Jimenez, Export Area Manager at Alvic, highlighted the trend of using alternative materials that mimic the appearance and texture of real stone or porcelain, driven by ease of maintenance and cost-effectiveness. “We have the Brillante and the Zenit Cabinet Doors, both of which are MDF UV Lacquer and the best in terms of scratch resistance and color stability,” he stated. The growing influence of social media is accelerating the adoption of these trends. “Trends are traveling faster because of Instagram, Pinterest, and social media in general. People are traveling more, seeing trends in Europe, and bringing them back to Canada,” Jimenez added. He also noted that there is ample room for a variety of styles in the market, catering to different tastes and preferences.

Finishing: Water-Based Coatings

The wood industry is increasingly adopting water-based coatings, driven by environmental regulations and a shift towards sustainability. Water-based finishes are becoming more popular due to their lower VOC emissions and improved environmental profile. José Sousa, Wood Coatings Specialist at Sivam, highlighted this trend, noting the industry’s move towards low sheens and natural-looking finishes. “Architects are looking for a finish that looks not finished, very raw, protected but looks like there’s nothing there,” he said.

European companies are leading the way in introducing urethanes and acrylics to replace traditional solvent-based finishes. “If not in 5 years, in 10 years water-based finishes are going to be the standard for the industry. The regulations are getting tighter and tighter on VOC limits, so it’s going to be more difficult to work with solvents,” Sousa predicted. This shift is particularly evident in Eastern Canada, where there is a strong push for environmentally friendly solutions.

Hardware

Innovations in hardware are enhancing both functionality and aesthetics, with new products offering sophisticated solutions for modern designs. Concealed hinges with multiple finishes, such as those introduced by Sugatsune Canada, are gaining traction. “Our HES 3D-W190 model offers versatility for glass or cladded doors, available in finishes like dull chrome, matte black, dull nickel, and polished nickel,” explained Ali Younis, Regional Sales Manager at Sugatsune Canada. Additionally, the introduction of surface-mount concealed hinges, a world-first, offers easy installation and a seamless flush look without the need to mortise into the door frame.

 

Jose Olguin, Product Manager for Builders Hardware at Onward Industrial, noted a significant trend in hardware finishes. “We see a very clear trend on three finishes in terms of hardware: satin nickel or satin chrome, a very dark finish, mostly black, and brass is coming back,” he said. “In the terms of finishes for pretty much all hardware all across the board, you go to any type of store in any shopping mall, you will see those three finishes on everything related to homes, furniture, and hardware.”

 

Pocket door systems are gaining significant popularity. Lucy Traetto, Sales & Marketing Representative at Blum Canada Ltd, emphasized the growing demand for pocket systems. “Definitely pocket systems are becoming more and more popular, especially with smaller living spaces like condos because what happens when you close these doors, you’re actually creating walls where we’ve lost those walls and now people kind of want the walls back to do a room separation,” Traetto explained. This trend is not limited to urban environments; it extends to cottages and tiny homes where space optimization is crucial.

In addition to residential applications, pocket doors are proving to be highly practical in-home office spaces. “I think that in a home office space it’s really the most practical because we try to encourage work-life balance, and at 5 p.m. you should be shutting those doors and tucking everything away and just carrying on with your personal life,” Traetto emphasized. By enabling homeowners to close off workspaces, pocket doors help create a clear separation between professional and personal life, contributing to a healthier work-life balance.

Software

The demand for integrated software solutions that streamline the design-to-manufacturing process is growing. These solutions are crucial for minimizing errors and saving time, making the design and manufacturing process more efficient. Amanda Gay, Marketing and Product Manager at Planit Canada, emphasized the importance of providing accessible and searchable learning resources for users. “People are demanding micro-learning, not long-form courses. Users need to be able to search and find their answer quickly,” she said. Planit’s focus on creating short instructional videos reflects this trend, ensuring that customers have immediate access to the information they need. “We are investing heavily in getting as many videos on YouTube as we possibly can so that people can get the answers they need immediately.”

Tim Scholman from Microvellum highlighted the need for software that offers complete integration. “A lot of customers are looking for a single source where they can design in one platform and not have to re-enter data into another,” he explained. This approach minimizes errors and saves time, making the design and manufacturing process more efficient. “We allow them to design, render, present drawings, create architectural drawings, and take all that information right through to manufacturing.”

Inserts

Organizational products for kitchens and closets are focusing on functionality and accessibility. Rev-A-Shelf introduced numerous new products this year, aiming to help homeowners better organize their spaces. “We’ve come out with probably 20 new products this year, a lot of wood products, some wire products. But it’s all about organization and making it easier for the homeowner to organize their drawers, their deep drawers, their shallow drawers,” said Tom Evie of Rev-A-Shelf. Angie Nellis from Rev-A-Shelf added, “It’s about getting everything off the counters and getting it into their drawers, getting it into the base cabinets.”

The trend towards maximizing space and improving functionality is evident in these new organizational inserts, which cater to modern lifestyles and the need for efficient storage solutions.

Event Goers’ Insights and Experiences

The Richelieu Trends Event not only showcased the latest products and trends but also provided a platform for attendees to share their experiences and insights.

Mike Clare of Diamond CNC was particularly impressed by the event’s displays (he built many of them himself). “It’s a great event,” he said, highlighting Richelieu’s new R-Push system for closets. “Most touch-release systems only open one inch. This opens the door completely. We sell a ton of closets, so we will buy that for sure,” he added, indicating a positive reception to the innovative solutions presented at the event.

Vladamir Ludin from Lancaster Custom Cabinets observed a shift towards European design in the industry. “What I’m seeing is a move away from transitional styles towards flat panels, natural wood combinations, and more natural colors,” he said. Ludin was excited about the new Hawa Concepta system, which he described as simpler and more durable than its predecessor. “For me, the go-to system for pocket doors was the Hawa Concepta, and I was excited to see the new Hawa Concepta system generation 3, which is much simpler to install and more durable.”

Kristen Donaldson from Arcadis Architects noted the growing importance of creating collaborative and updated office spaces. “Companies are looking to spend more to attract people back to the office with collaborative furniture and workspaces,” she explained. Donaldson appreciated Richelieu’s high-end products, which she believes can be used for custom designs in commercial office projects. “A lot of the conversation is about amenities, and Richelieu has a lot of products that have a higher-end feel that we can use for custom designs.”

The Richelieu Trends Event 2024 provided valuable insights into the evolving trends and innovations in the Canadian wood industry. From lightweight panels and advanced decorative surfaces to sustainable materials and cutting-edge hardware, the event highlighted the industry’s commitment to blending functionality with aesthetics. These trends reflect a nuanced approach to modern living, balancing the need for practical solutions with a desire for stylish, adaptable spaces. As the industry continues to evolve, these innovations will play a crucial role in shaping its future, meeting the changing demands of consumers, and ensuring sustainable growth.

 

Tyler Holt is the Editor of Wood Industry / Le monde du bois magazine. He has a master’s degree in literature and publication, and years of experience in the publishing and digital media industry. His main area of study is the effect of digital technologies on industrial and networked production.

 

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