Today we are talking about the future of surfaces and power integration – a millennial view. We share some interesting insight from an interview with leading decorative surface and power solution brands, Max on Top and Powerlogic.
The last decade has seen dramatic changes taking place in the digital landscape. These changes affect consumers’ daily lives in every way thinkable and even affects the way they use their regular surfaces. The “always on” culture is making waves and necessitates that surface industries collaborate with power solution providers to answer the new demand. This trend is particularly apparent in the kitchen and office/workplace areas.
We took some time out to interview Max on Top – Decorative Surfaces Solutions and Powerlogic – Modern Power Solution; two high-tech forerunners in the surface and digital industries respectively. These two specialists in their fields, have embarked upon an exciting collaboration and in the following interview, give us their opinions of the future of the Surface Solutions and Digital Industries.
HAS THE ‘’SURFACE LANDSCAPE ‘’ CHANGED IN THE LAST DECADE IN A NOTICEABLE WAY?
Max On Top: “Being a leader in the surface industry for 60 years has certainly given Max on Top a good overview in terms of surface trends and consumer desires. European Décor and Design leaders deserve industry respect and we always look up to our Italian suppliers when it comes to new and ground-breaking trends. A definite focus has been placed on Technology, Science and Art. Science becomes symbiotic with design. Surface Designers incorporate Science and new methodologies to create solutions that are long-lasting and perseverant. A surface trend that has always been present and that perseveres is ultra-minimalism. The future consumer has an attraction to clean, ultra matt, lineless and super opaque surfaces. A home, office or retail surface is becoming an extension of the modern and streamlined consumer. Instant, relevant and modern.”
HOW HAS POWER INTEGRATION IN OFFICE AND KITCHEN ENVIRONMENTS CHANGED IN THE LAST DECADE?
Powerlogic: “The landscape has changed fairly dramatically in both environments over the last decade, but probably more so in the kitchen. With the adoption of more and more mobile technology by the public, there is an associated need to keep these devices nearby and powered up. We have seen a big shift towards supplying USB charging capabilities in office and more recently, kitchen environments. As always, people want convenience and simplicity, so there is a clear need to access charging ports in all environments, not just in offices. With the move to more flexible working arrangements, and more people working at home or from coffee shops, this trend is going to accelerate.
Ten years ago, phone batteries lasted 3 or 4 days and when you needed to charge them, you would have to plug your bulky charger (with lead attached), into an available power outlet. Nowadays, with smart devices, battery life is far shorter due to the higher power demands on the device, but all you need is your USB lead to be able to charge devices on the fly (in your car, with power banks, or from USB charging ports at your office desk or in your kitchen/ bedroom). Wireless charging is also likely to become more common amongst devices and environments (we have seen many car manufacturers already providing this technology in their products).”
HAS THE WAY THAT INDIVIDUALS USE SURFACE SPACE AND POWER SOLUTIONS CHANGED OVER THE PAST DECADE?
Max On Top: “We have reached an intersection between humanity and technology. Digital is dominating consumers’ worlds and humanity react by searching and requesting their primal needs to be answered in sight, touch and taste. Modern surface leaders read these queues by offering surface solutions with a sensorial comfort in both sight and touch. Ultra matt and warm to the touch, with opaque hues that are calming and pleasant to the eye, will continue to be popular for both residential and office spaces. Max on Top is at the forefront of scientific surface solutions with its Italian partner, Arpa Industriale and is always researching new and better surface solutions in the digital age. It is not about denying the dominance of digital but rather the development of a new-age surface solution, to complement the Millennial lifestyle.”
Powerlogic: “Absolutely. With work becoming more mobile and working hours more flexible, office and kitchen power requirements and solutions are converging to some extent. Remember, a few years ago, you would switch off your PC and leave work in the evening and return the next morning to start working again. You would get home and use appliances in your kitchen. Now, your work can go with you anywhere and at any time due to mobile devices. You can even do so in the kitchen whist you prepare food, and even use these devices to assist with making food – for example, looking up recipes online etc. There will, however, always be a requirement for higher power devices in the kitchen compared with that of the office – for example, you will still need to boil a kettle, make toast etc, so your high power requirements will remain, but these are being augmented with low voltage charging ports, to charge devices in your kitchen. Mobile devices have become more powerful and more power hungry and this power requirement is limited by battery capacity, as people demand thinner and lighter devices. The net result is that you have to recharge your mobile device more frequently and the need to be able to recharge in as many places as possible, is accelerating. Offices on the other hand are largely moving towards fewer high-power AC outlets and more low voltage charging outlets (USB, USB-C etc.). This is due to a number of reasons, some of which are:
• the devices used in offices becoming less power hungry (laptops and mobile devices are replacing desktops)
• most of these devices are either low-power AC or can be charged via DC charging ports.
• Office space is expensive, so desks are becoming smaller, therefore there is less work surface area available for power outlets
• Office desks are becoming “hot” desks where employees share the same desks at different times of the day, rather than have their own desks.”
HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF SURFACES, CHARGING CAPABILITIES, POWER AND CONSUMER’S CHANGING HABITS?
Max on top: “The future of modern spaces for younger generations is about a collaborated spirit between solution providers. Max on Top votes for a seamless integration between aesthetic surfaces and efficiency-focused power solutions, which will provide the right solution for modern spaces. Younger users have become very comfortable with apps, social media, and always-on connectivity and brands, that stay aware of the changing, on-demand trend which will survive the next generation.”
Powerlogic: “There is no question that future surfaces are likely to become more than just a place on top of which to work. These are likely to become powered and intelligent surfaces (meaning they will be able to both charge devices, as well as be a device). Your work top in the not too distant future, will be a touchscreen interface, allowing you to work and access any digital content, much like a tablet can presently.”
CAN YOU GIVE ADVICE TO KITCHEN/OFFICE SPACE INSTALLERS REGARDING THE FUTURE OF SURFACES AND POWER?
Max On Top: “Max on Top believes in creating relevant and trend-setting spaces for the current buying market, but we also believe in researching for the future. Our advice to kitchen/office Installers would be to stay abreast of changing consumer behaviour and desires, and to ensure that your business delivers to those needs. Consumers are wanting more than an aesthetically pleasing surface; they want a functional element delivered with the package. Surfaces that cannot scratch, heal itself, anti-fingerprint, anti-bacterial etc.”
Powerlogic: “My advice is to try and provide the most flexible and convenient power solutions to customers which cater to their current and future requirements. We have seen many mistakes made by customers not wanting to spend extra on USB charging outlets, only to come back in a few months’ time and spend a lot more money retrofitting a solution that they could have had in the first place, for a little bit more than they initially paid. Mobile devices are becoming more popular and more powerful, and the working environment, whether in an office or home, needs to allow for these devices to both be used and charged in the most convenient, user-friendly way possible. By having flexible solutions, these can be upgraded or customised at a later date, to keep abreast of technology changes, with minimal upcharge or disruption.”