With its highly innovative HybriQ technology, the family-run Spanish surface specialist Cosentino makes a radical contribution to the circular economy – and offers harmonious colour designs for kitchens and bathrooms.
Keen to embrace the circular economy, many interior designers and architects today regard sustainability as integral to design. Manufacturers of products sourced by architects and designers also strive to minimise waste and reliance on finite resources.
For architects and interior designers, it’s convenient to specify products that meet these criteria. And if these products are durable and aesthetically pleasing, to boot, so much the better.
Cosentino – a leading specialist in surfaces used for construction, based in Almería, Spain on the Mediterranean coast – has made sustainable surfaces for the architecture and interior design worlds since the 1990s.
During that decade, one of Cosentino’s key innovations was Silestone, a compound composed of over 90% natural quartz, which makes it extraordinarily hard-wearing and provides a seamless surface ideal for bathrooms and cladding on walls and floors – and is truly ground-breaking as a surface used in kitchens. It also allows for the creation of surfaces in new, different colours.
An increasing amount of waste generated during the process is reused when manufacturing more Silestone surfaces
Silestone is scratch-resistant, shock-resistant and imporous, and its robust quality renders it relatively sustainable since it’s highly durable. But now Cosentino has considerably upped its game with the introduction of its HybriQ® and HybriQ+ technologies, also used to fabricate Silestone – an even more radical contribution to the circular economy.
Developed and patented by Cosentino’s research and development department, these build on Silestone’s many desirable properties but contain less crystalline silica. The first technology, HybriQ®, is a new formulation of Silestone – a mix of minerals, quartz and recycled materials – made using 100% renewable electrical energy and 99% recycled water, with no spillage of used water. Any waste generated during the process is reused when manufacturing more Silestone surfaces.
Earthy, subtle colours were chosen for the collection – the inspiration they take from nature is in keeping with the company’s long-standing concern for the environment
HybriQ® also reduces the percentage of crystalline silica. It contains a maximum of up to 10% or up to 50% of the material, depending on the colour. All Silestone slabs are now labelled Q10 and Q50 accordingly. ‘Our intention was to create a technology that would lower silica levels to the same as those naturally found in natural stones, such as granite, which usually oscillate between 35% to 50%,’ says Pablo San Román, Cosentino’s Global Brand Manager. ‘We wanted to make a material that would be just like natural stones in terms of health and safety as well for those who make it, while ensuring that all the properties and aesthetics of Silestone remain intact.’
HybriQ+, a variation on HybriQ®, takes Cosentino’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, which includes the reduction of waste, a step further. It contains a minimum of 20% recycled materials, such as glass made from broken bottles or windows. ‘The proportion of recycled materials included can go up to 87%, so they can help to achieve excellent LEED and BREEAM ratings,’ says San Román.
Deploying this technology, Cosentino has created a new collection of surfaces called Sunlit Days, and carefully selected minerals in different colours have determined the palette of this latest Silestone collection. These are the terracotta-coloured Arcilla Red, named after clay soil found in Almería, Cala Blue, a limpid blue-grey designed to evoke the vastness of the sea, Faro White, which conjures up sun-drenched buildings, Cincel Grey, a grey designed to match well with both warm and cool tones, and Posidonia Green, a lively pale green named after Spain’s Posidonia underwater seagrass meadows which are shrinking fast due to climate change.
The colours are inspired by Cosentino’s proximity to the Mediterranean but, in contrast to the brilliant blues traditionally associated with the sea and sky there, they are muted. ‘Sunlit Days represents a journey back to the Mediterranean, where our company was born,’ says San Román.
Earthy, subtle colours were chosen for the collection because they are relatively timeless and so more sustainable; the inspiration they take from nature is in keeping with the company’s long-standing concern for the environment. Today, Cosentino collaborates with an NGO called Equilibrio Marino, which removes polluting plastics and discarded nets found on the seabed and coasts of the Mediterranean.
As interior designers appreciate, Sunlit Days’ surfaces also provide decorative expanses of colour that break up otherwise featureless walls. Their surfaces incorporate everything from washbasins to splashbacks, giving them a multifunctional appeal, too. As San Román points out, this reflects a current trend in interiors: ‘Kitchens have evolved to become a multifunctional room where we no longer only cook, but live, work and study.’
Most importantly, Cosentino’s HybriQ+ technology sets a new standard for surfaces used in the construction industry: it represents the brand’s most far-reaching commitment to the circular economy and sustainability as this is the first Carbon neutral Silestone collection ever created.