For 100 years, the story of the Formica® brand has been one of discovery and innovation. Formica is an iconic brand inextricably linked to the invention of the original High Pressure Laminate (HPL).
The era of laminate
Our founders, electrical engineers Daniel J. O’Conor and Herbert A. Faber discover that high-pressure plastic resins can be used to make electrical parts, replacing the mineral mica, and establish the Formica Products Company in 1913. As they were searching for a substitute “for” an insulation material “mica,” they coined the name “Formica.”
By 1930, the Company begins to make the shift from industrial applications to decorative laminate products.
A new focus
Colorful, durable and cigarette-proof, Formica® Brand Laminate become a popular choice for the interiors of cafes and nightclubs, as well as railway cars and luxury ocean liners like the RMS Queen Mary. But as the U.S. enters World War II, The Formica Insulation Company focuses on military production through the war’s end.
The post-war boom
During the post-war boom, sales of Formica Brand Laminates reach $24 million and the Company advertises vigorously to promote designs such as Brooks Stevens’ iconic “Skylark” pattern. Raymond Loewy Associates creates the Company’s “Sunrise” line and Prince Sigaard Bernadotte of Sweden, the classic “VirrVarr” pattern.
Design and innovation
Formica Brand Laminates become a symbol of modern lifestyles and the Company begins to build a worldwide presence. Formica Corporation also continues to emphasize design, establishing the Design Advisory Board and organizing “Surface and Ornament,” an exhibition of ColorCore® laminate artwork that debuts at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Changes and challenges
Mirroring the economic climate of the 1980s and 1990s, Formica Corporation experiences multiple changes in leadership during this volatile period. At the same time, the Company continues to expand its international reach and to launch innovative new products in colors, patterns and finishes that target both the residential and commercial markets.
A new century of growth
In 2007, Fletcher Building, Ltd. acquires Formica Group divisions of Asia, Europe and North America. Combined with the Laminex® brand under the Fletcher umbrella, Formica Corporation is now the largest player in its industry worldwide. The Company also achieves significant goals towards becoming a “greener” enterprise.
Formica® brand celebrates 100 years!