New Formica 100th Anniversary book — “Formica Forever” — is out

formica bookIt’s Formica’s 100th anniversary this year. In January, we saw the anniversary design collection. Now, the purty looking book is out. It promises “more than 400 images — including advertisements, logos and product swatches organized by color. It’s modeled after a Formica® laminate swatch book from the 1960s, features three historical essays, and comes in an easy-to-read size. It looks like the book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for delivery Sept. 30:

Following is Formica’s news release about the book:

Formica Group, the inventor of laminate, celebrates 100 years of global design with Formica Forever, a commemorative book that captures the company’s 100-year evolution through cultural shifts, economic uncertainties, trend exploration and global growth.

“The Formica® brand has touched every aspect of our lives each and every day, surfacing millions of spaces in which we gather, work, learn, heal, shop, eat and play,” noted Mark Adamson, former CEO of Formica Group and current CEO of Fletcher Building, parent company to Formica Group. “Many people have grown up with the Formica® brand, and this book encapsulates the company’s influence in interior design as well as its struggles and perseverance to remain a viable business through changing ownership, global expansion and the changing landscape of the surfacing market.”

Designed by Abbott Miller, a partner in the renowned international design consultancy Pentagram, the 408-page, 6.5″ x 9.5″ book contains more than 400 images and is modeled after a Formica® brand laminate swatch book from the 1960s. “We didn’t want a cumbersome coffee-table book; we wanted to create something celebratory rather than grandiose, authoritative but also lively,” Miller said. The book is published in collaboration with Metropolis Books and will be available in early August at bookstores worldwide as well as online.

Formica Forever features:

  • 100 years of worldwide visual assets, including advertisements, logos and product swatches organized by color
  • Three essays in which notable authors lend perspective to the various Formica Group storylines that have unfolded over the course of the last century, including:
    • Global Business Expansion (authored by Phil Patton)
    • Modernist Design Legacy (authored by Alexandra Lange)
    • Cultural Impact (authored by Peter York)
  • Literary excerpts referencing the Formica® brand, which demonstrate both its importance in pop culture as well as the challenges faced by Formica Group to diligently protect the brand
  • An appendix featuring six color-coded translations:  French, Spanish, Finnish, Thai and Simplified and Traditional Mandarin

Formica Forever authors:

  • Phil Patton (Growing Global: A Century of the Formica® Brand and Business) is a design journalist, curator and author. His books include Open Road:  A Celebration of The American Highway; Made in USA: The Secret Histories of the Things that Made America; Bug, a cultural history of the Volkswagen Beetle; and Dreamland, the culture of experimental aircraft. Patton writes regularly about automobile design for The New York Times and has served as a curator for museum exhibitions focusing on automobiles.
  • Alexandra Lange (The Glamour of Utility: Formica® Laminate, Design and Luxury) is an architecture and design critic and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times. She teaches architecture criticism at New York University and the School of Visual Arts.
  • Peter York (Toward a Wipe-Clean World: Formica® Brand in Context) is a British management consultant, author and broadcaster most famous for co-authoring Harpers & Queen’s The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook with Ann Barr. He also is a columnist for The Independent on SundayGQ and Management Today, and associate of Editorial Intelligence.

In addition to creating the book, Pentagram’s Miller and partners Michael Bierut and Daniel Weil collaborated on the anniversary brand elements, the Formica® Laminate Anniversary Collection and the anniversary display concept.

  1. Joe Felice says:

    I hope you’re not right, Pam, about the marble! It is so impractical as a horizontal surface. But people are starting to (finally) tire of granite & stainless, just as predicted. So the question then does become “Now what?” Without crystal balls, it’s hard for us to tell, but I think soon, granite & stainless will be relegated to the dustbin of history, and people 20 years from now will be asking “What, on earth, were those people thinking?” And then they’ll be rushing to remodel their kitchens and baths, and the appliance manufacturers and the counter top installers will be making a killing. Which, in the end, is what it’s really all about in our capital (greed)-driven system. I happen to think that this is one of the reasons many of us appreciate the timeless beauty and design of MCM homes and decor.

  2. Andy A says:

    We considered installing granite in our 1962 contemporary–but decided to wait instead. Now, we’re glad we did. I’m tired of granite in kitchens at this point, it’s no longer special or unique, it’s common. Soon, people will tire of it and move on to something newer! bigger! better! more expensive!

    The original white formica in our house is in great shape, a testimony to how durable it can be. Plus, it has a clean look, maintains the spaciousness of the kitchen, and best of all–it’s original to the house. It’s been there for over 50 years of meals, parties, celebrations, and hopefully will still be there for many more to come.

    Granite would not “fit” our house–formica does, and original only happens once.

    1. pam kueber says:

      ‘newer, bigger, better, more expensive’ apparently now is super large slabs o’ marble. impractical, too!

  3. Joe Felice says:

    I do not like granite. In fact I’m sick of seeing it and hearing about it. As if you’re nobody if you don’t have a granite counter top. And HGTV isn’t helping, either. And don’t even get me started on stainless steel appliances! So, for me, laminate will always be put into play for consideration when remodeling.

    1. pam kueber says:

      good ones, robin! now that your reminded me, i looked at these a long time ago — like 2 or 3 years ago. i asked kate to put it on the list to do a story. thanks!!

      1. Robin, NV says:

        They also have other great mosaics in yellow and peach – two colors some of us have been longing to find. I asked the company if they do custom blends and they do. They also have a mosaic tile builder here:
        It’s limited to square tiles and only builds random patterns but it’s a nice resource for people who want a custom blend of colors.

        I’ve ordered a bunch of samples including the pink and aqua listed above. I can’t wait to see what they look like.

      2. Blair says:

        We just used these hex blends in our bathroom remodels. We went with the light grey blend (slide) and the baby blue blend (drift blue). I love them!

        1. Robin, NV says:

          The Mosaic Tile Supply website says that if you take a photograph of your project and send it to them, they’ll pay you $50 to use it on their website.

          1. Blair says:

            Robin, I know but I haven’t finished painting one of the bathrooms and they have been finished for over a month… I need to finish hanging the chalkware fish in the other bathroom and then I can send in my photos! I am skeptical to think they will like my 1950’s inspired bathrooms but who knows! Thanks for looking out Robin! Also the tile looks amazing in person.

  4. Dan says:

    Pam, this probably doesn’t exactly fit in with the laminate story, but a couple of days ago I was surfing the web and was looking to see what I could find about roman brick – sorta like the kind of brick that Kate has on her retro ranch. Anyways there apparently is this company in Ohio that still produces roman brick, and I’m guessing its as close as you can get to retro roman brick since they say that their brick was used in the restoration of a frank Lloyd wright house. The website is http://www.beldenbrick.com/2007/roman-brick.asp. I know, this comment was completely random… (Actually, should I have posted this comment in the article about concrete block screens?)

  5. Janet in CT says:

    What a great book! Somewhere I have old formica samples, found entangled on the fan of the furnace of our first 1958 ranch. It must have been there since the house was built! I think the yellow would be stunning with Cathy’s pale yellow St. Charles cabinets!

  6. Robin, NV says:

    Sigh, it will only makes us gnash our teeth that we can’t get vintage designs anymore.

    Nevertheless – want.

        1. Robin, NV says:

          Oh so you’re the one. You should have said something – I bid on it too and drove the price up. Sorry! I was just so excited to see my laminate in the lot. What I wouldn’t give for some of the “Fantasy” pattern (the starburst one).

  7. Kate says:

    Ohhh what a cool looking book! You know Pam, both my birthday and my 1 year anniversary working with you is in September when this book releases…. hint…hint… 😉

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