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At IIDEX, NeoCon Canada: Bencore Composite Wall Panels

If you've ever worked with drywall, if you've ever attempted to cut, hang, tape, or finish the stuff, then chances are that (like me) you've kicked over ladders in a gypsum-encrusted rage, spent minutes bent over the sink attempting to dislodge the tiniest speck of painful, tear-inducing dust, even proclaimed that painting is a veritable symphony of synaptic ecstasy.

Composite wall panels. Manufactured by Bencore.

Suffice it to say that I'm convinced the drywall skill set is exclusively genetic. Thank the heavens, then, for the recent profusion of new wall finishes. We at 3rings have looked at several of these during the past year (for a refresher, see B and N Iconic Wall Panels, GKD Metal Fabrics, and Romancing the Wall). Today, I'd like to introduce you to the wonders of Bencore's composite translucent panels. As the Italy-based manufacturer of this innovation in modular walls unabashedly admits, the product has "become ‘cult’ material among the lovers of design and innovative architecture," then goes on to inform us that "translucency, colour, stiffness, beauty and innovative technology are the main features of the Bencore products line." The panels come in three styles, each of which offer a slightly different look: "Starlight," features a honeycombed polycarbonate core sandwiched in acrylic; "Lightben," is made of the same materials as Starlight but has a core of vertically oriented tubes for a tighter honeycomb look; and "Hexaben," has a core of aluminum mesh shaped into miniature hexagons. Whichever style you chose, you'll find these modular panels are lightweight, structurally rigid, and colorful—a combination that stimulates aesthetic experimentation.

And on that score, the uses of these panels are limited only by your lack of vision. Raised floors, partition walls, and countertops top the list perhaps, but a quick look at Bencore's gallery offers an endless litany of inspiration: display cases, chaise lounges, bookcases, tables, chairs, bed platforms, shower partitions, lamps, vanities, "faux" ceilings, exterior highlight walls, lounge footbeds, marquees, and on and on. Perhaps my favorite use (and forgive me if it's also the most obvious) is the backlit backbar. To me, nothing says quirky and appealing modernity like a translucent surface of unspecified material streaming forth orange or red or blue tinted light of unspecified origin. And forgive me again for evoking the image of psychopathic young Alex in Kubrick's Korova Milk Bar enjoying his Beethoven, or the rapidly devolving Jack Torrance in Kubrick's Overlook Hotel toasting unseen specters with an unseen bourbon, all the while bathed in that trademark otherworldly orange. With Bencore's composite walls, no matter what your poison, you can make paint it in an ambiance of red, or yellow, or blue, or bronze, or purple, or amber...

Have a look at Bencore's composite wall panels at IIDEX, NeoCon in Toronto on September 25 and 26.

Posted September 23rd, 2008 by Joseph Starr


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