Return to site home page


Innovation @ Interzum

A look at one of the many inspiration gems from Germany's Interzum Materials Fair.

Story and photography by Kenn Busch

A look at one of the many inspiration gems from Germany's Interzum Materials Fair.

Donald Schaefer, retired managing director of European HPL supplier Resopal (part of the Wilsonart Group), can’t stop playing with design. Under his leadership, Resopal broke several category barriers, launching an all-organic laminate called Rey-Stone, pairing laminate designs with waterproof substrates for use in bathrooms and wet areas, and taking numerous liberties with accepted boundaries of design and texture.

While Resopal is one of the companies that anchors Interzum, a global exhibition for furniture and interior design materials, that wasn’t what brought Schaefer to Cologne earlier this year. The show hosts an entire hall of exhibitors with fresh architectural material concepts, called “Innovation of Interior.” That provided the perfect backdrop for Schaefer and his partners to debut their new company, 4ST, and its unique approach to bringing “found” art to decorative surfaces.

“I knew of this artist in Italy, a textile designer named Sergio Perrero, who likes to buy up excess clothing inventory and actually paint them to create something new,” says Schaefer. “They have a design energy all their own, they’re very special, and he has tons of them that he doesn’t know what to do with.

“So I said, ‘Why not give them to me?’ We put them on a panel, gave them a durable finish coating and turned them into really unique decorative panels. We showed all original pieces at Interzum, but of course they can be digitized and repeated.

“I believe people are tired of minor tweaks to familiar designs, that they’re ready for a true departure from the same old things,” Schaefer adds. “We’ve developed technology that allows us to turn many different kinds of materials into durable furniture surfaces.”

GALLERY: See more material innovations from the Interzum show floor in this exclusive I&S gallery.