Formica Looks to Nature for Its Layered Sand Laminate

Just recently, Formica officially launched their new SurfaceSet 2020 collection, a series of 30 designs that blur lines between nature and technology. One of those Formica® Laminate designs had us intrigued – Layered Sand – as the finished product is the result of layering actual sand before scanning it to make a new optical visual. For this month’s Deconstruction, Formica takes us further into the Layered Sand design to see the lengthy process they go through to create each pattern.


Photo: Copyright jakobradlgruber via

The natural beauty of sand has colored the world since the beginning of time.

But it wasn’t until the early 20th century — when sand art was discovered in the Middle East – that layered sand became a design fixture.

Since then, the granular design has inspired designers and architects to capture sand’s organic elegance and transform it into large-scale rammed earth designs.

Inspired by this type of architecture, Formica Group has created a strong and durable laminate option with a sand-like finish for horizontal and vertical surfaces.

The process begins when artists create a sandscape by hand to mimic the building process of rammed earth walls.

First, a wood frame is built to fit the sizing needed for a laminate design.

Next, various sizes and colors of sand grains are poured into linear bands and pressed into layers.

The sandscape is then turned into an optical-solid visual using a high definition scanner.

Using proprietary reproduction techniques, Formica Group turns the scanned image into 3-4 print layers, or separations.

Each print layer is a different color, and when combined, creates a pleasing design that showcases the pattern.

Then, full layouts are reviewed by the Formica Group technical and design team for approval and revisions.

Upon final approval of the design layout, Formica Group then begins the digital colorwork. This allows the design team to test different color combinations of the pattern while also giving direction to the printing team.

When the final colors are decided, the inks are mixed, printed onto base paper, and then pressed with a honed Scovato texture to create an authentic, sand-like textured laminate.

The final product is a gorgeous laminate surface ideal for any setting.

See more from the SurfaceSet® 2020 Collection at

Photos courtesy of Formica Corporation, except where noted.

Caroline Williamson is Editor-in-Chief of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.