Talasey & Natural Paving 2018
This time last year, in the review of Natural Paving’s offering for the 2017 season, I wondered aloud about the emergence of the intriguing Talasey branding which sort of appeared from nowhere and was being liberally applied to a whole range of products normally associated with Natural Paving.
Twelve months on and all has been made clear following a re-education visit from a cultural emissary to explain the masterplan for world domination, or an enhanced presence in the hard-landscaping arena at the very least.
As Natural Paving grew, it began to encompass a range of products that, to some, did not sit easily within the remit of a business that formerly promoted itself as a champion of ‘natural’ paving, by which they (at that time) meant stone. They could get away with adding clay pavers to the range as kiln-fired clods of clay are, arguably, a natural product….in the same way that your tea-cup and your cornflakes bowl are natural products.
However, when it came to artificial grass , resin bound surfacing and the increasingly important porcelain paving, the claim to be ‘natural’ was becoming tenuous, to say the least, and with the ever-growing range of chemical cleaners, resinous jointing materials, acrylic sealants and polymer primers collected under the PaveTuf umbrella, it could be viewed as being slightly misleading to continue flogging it all under the name of Natural Paving.
But no-one in their right mind would dump such a strong brand, so the obvious solution is to retain NP as the brand for ‘natural’ paving, shift all the other various product lines to more suitable newly-created brands, and bring the whole lot under one over-arching roof which is Talasey.
Come up with the obligatory dual-meaning mission statement – " Changing our landscape " – and Robert is indeed your mother’s brother! Natural Paving, Vitripiazza, PaveTuf, Baksteen, Luxigraze and Resiscape are all now components of the Talasey brand.
Armed now with this new understanding, the 2018 Talasey Group brochure can be better appreciated. The relegation of the strong and readily-identifiable Natural Paving brand to a micro-logo at the foot of the cover, while the T for Talasey logo takes pride of place could be confusing, but any risk of befuddlement is minimised by retaining the familiar style of the old NP brochure: a square(ish) format with the diagonally split grey/white headline band bearing the aforementioned mission statement and the group logo.
Inside, all that has been explained above is compressed into a few bullet points followed by a double page spread of contents with pride of place now going to the porcelain/ceramic/vitrified Vitripiazza range, as is the way with so many suppliers nowadays.
Much is made of its Italian origin, playing up to the common perception that when it comes to porcelain, Italian is best, an adage that is something of a sweeping generalisation but actually not too far wide of the mark. And as with so many other suppliers, there is the 10mm-interior/20mm-exterior option to create the allegedly appealing continuous indoor-outdoor flow through the oh-so-contemporary bi-fold doors that we’re all supposed to have nowadays.
Vitripiazza is a big range, but one that sets out to be more considered than comprehensive. Too many suppliers seem to think more choice is better, but there is actually a risk of confounding customers by giving them too much choice. Customers tend to rely on those in the trade to narrow down the plethora of porcelain out there to summat more manageable and discerning, to sort the wheat from the chaff on their behalf and then present them with something far more manageable.
Vitripiazza runs to eight sub-brands, and a total of 26 different porcelains, six of which are new for 2018. The division between sub-brands is not always immediately clear, especially when you realise the Albero range of wood-effect tiles is not the only wood-effect, because that option pops up again as two offerings within the budget-conscious Anno sub-brand. Confused? You will be!
Of the six new products, three are to be found within the Anno sub-brand, although there are nio imnages other than basic swatches, and three in the all-new Stile sub-brand, the latter of which is more bland and tile-like than any other group, making, apparently, no attempt to be anything other than a single size, 600mm square homogenous shopping mall tile in three non-threatening shades.
Far more exciting is the accessory section, which offers a range of edge finishes for use on steps, and a choice of six circle packs spanning the ore popular shades within the grey spectrum. This represents true development within the porcelain offer for external paving. Right from the beginning there has been a need for multi-size options, step-friendly pieces, detail sets such as circles, and all the other trimmings that make for a rounded product set. As the market for porcelain expands, the demand for such items can only grow.
Eventually, the Natural Paving brand raises its proud head and the fact that it consumes a whole 110 pages of a 168 page brochure reveals just how strong and comprehensive and, yes, how essential the brand remains.
There are still the five sub-brands: Premiastone; Cragstone; Classicstone; Fossestone; and the erroneously labelled Cobblestone which should be Settstone if accuracy counted for anything, but try as I might, other than the Premiastone Silver Ash flame-textured granite, I can’t see anything new.
Is this a reflection of the fact that the market seems to have reached ‘peak stone’ when it comes to residential paving? Overall, there is ample representation of more-or-less every type of stone worth using for paving (as well as Travertine) available in a mind-boggling array of formats and accessories, and al of it fairly readily available, and, to be fair, NP does have one of the most comprehensive offerings out there, so is there anywhere to go with it?
And when you factor in the current passion for porcelain, perhaps we really have reached that tipping point where any development of new products will be of the vitrified kind, rather than the quarried. Will we look back at 2018 as the year when the public appetite for natural stone finally peaked? I do hope not!
On to Baksteen the imported clay pavers with a definite Rhine Valley palette, and here, at least, there is some innovation, in the shape of the Dutch Squares, the devastatingly cunning name given to a five-colour range of square pavers that are Dutch in origin – who’d have guessed?
150x150mm squares, with four base colours and a so-called Dutch Blend which is a jumble of all four. All are a very generous 65mm thick, so more than adequate for vehicles. Squares do rather limit the potential for interesting laying patterns, but they could be combined with the 200x50mm “Continental” pavers to give far more design flexibility.
Luxigraxe is the artificial grass range comprising 5 pile lengths and a supporting range of accessories and maintenance products. I don’t know what more can be said – it’s plastic grass, and, like all plastic grasses, you either like this one, that one, or none of them. I haven’t had the chance to manhandle the stuff yet, but given NP’s….ooops!.....given Talasey Group’s pedigree, I’d expect it to be a quality product.
Pavetuf, the ever-expanding range of hard-landscaping installation and maintenance aids, including cleaners, sealants, primers, and jointing mortars.
There’s no doubt that having a supporting range such as Pavetuf is a winning strategy – the ability to provide everything a contractor could want, bar the sand and cement has to increase the range’s overall appeal – but some of the products are not quite as impressive as they could be. Feedback on the invisible sealant (featured in the Sealant Trials ) and the one-part jointing jollop are less than complimentary, but the Primer and the Rust Remover are well regarded, it seems.
Finally, Resiscape: the resin bound system. Again, I’ve had no chance to try it for myself, but I have spoken to a couple of contractors that gave it a go and both were neither impressed nor appalled.
One contractor, who does a good deal of resin work and has done for quite a few years, thinks it handles well but didn’t like the fiddly packaging, with bags of differently graded aggregate, and the small tubs of resin and activator. In fact, the fact that he couldn’t get bigger packs and pre-blended aggregates persuaded him to go back to his regular supplier.
The other contractor echoed similar sentiments: they preferred to deal with a dedicated resin surfacing specialist supplier rather than a bit part player which they both felt was aimed more at occasional installers and have-a-go landscapers rather than full-time resin surfacing installers.
Still, it’s early days and given the ambition now evident within Talasey Group, maybe the smaller sub-brands, the grass and the Pavetuf and the resins will grow and become better established….only time will tell
Thinking about the brochure itself, it is, as stated previously, pretty much the same as we’ve seen previously from Natural Paving. Indeed, many of the images are re-used – why wouldn’t they be?
The layout remains essentially the same, with well laid out pages. The general format being a full page ‘money shot’ of the product, with a facing page bearing the basic size and packaging info along with a short text description and then a subsidiary image showing the product in an alternative setting. There are also swatches of the colour option, which makes sense for the porcelain ranges which may have several colour choices, but with the natural stone, their usefulness is questionable. If the money shot shows just the one product, why is a small swatch required at all?
The photography is generally excellent with well-considered and appealing staging but there does seem to be an overall darkness about the brochure and I think this is down to the choice of paper. Rather than a high-gloss paper, it’s more of a silk paper with a thin feel and comparing this with other brochures, the colours – and the greens in particular - seem more muted, more dull, as though every shot was taken on a grey and overcast day.
Is this just me? Have the eye problems of last year reduced my ability to see warmth and vibrancy? My partner says the front cover makes her think of the local crematorium and, sadly, I know what she means. It’s not the cheeriest of images, and so maybe it isn’t just me.
There a few narks with some of the projects displayed: coincident joints on the money shot for Cobblestone; empty nosing joints on the Rydal steps; nasty little triangular infill pieces and crossed joints with the Tuscan limestone. Yes: these are the sort of niggles only me and other anoraks will spot, but they spoil what is otherwise an excellent brochure, and, more worryingly, they allow the less able installers to get away with sub-standard practices by claiming that if it’s OK for a important brochure, it’s OK for Mrs Miggins’ back garden. It’s not.
These are, as stated, minor niggles and should not detract from the fact that Talasey is a brand that no serious contractor or homeowner can afford to overlook. There’s plenty in here that will keep the competition on their toes, and more than enough to provide inspiration and delight to designers and customers alike. The transition from NP to Talasey is going well and, based on the evidence in this brochure, there is much to admire in the progressive thinking behind what is becoming an ever more important brand within the hard-landscaping industry.
Talasey Customer Helpline: 0330 333 8030
Click here to download the 2018 PDF e-brochure