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The Boomerang Is Back

Edited by Liz Seymour
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page H03

It's been a tough few years for Formica.

Known for decades as the kitchen and bath countertop of choice for millions of homeowners, the reliable laminate has been pushed from its perch, first by Corian and other solid-surfacing materials, and more recently by granite, marble and other natural surfaces.

The National Kitchen and Bath Association recently reported that laminate continues to be the most popular material for kitchen countertops, but it's dropped in popularity. In 1997, 72 percent of remodeled kitchens had laminate tops. In 2002, that figure fell to 50 percent.

Formica's retro styles, revived from the 1950s: "Boomerang" and "VirrVarr." (Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)

But Formica is fighting back.

On May 2, the company will reintroduce two of its original patterns sure to send plenty of baby boomers down memory lane: "Boomerang," with iconic curved patterns floating against a blue, aqua, coral or charcoal background, first came out in 1950. "VirrVarr," with a spider-webbish design in light blue or white, was created in 1958.

Renee Hytry, the senior vice president of global design at Formica, said that today's public got a glimpse of the company's earliest designs in promotions celebrating Formica's 75th anniversary in 1988. Architects, designers and mid-century enthusiasts kept calling for the older patterns to be re-issued. Focus groups and market testing confirmed consumer interest, Hytry said.

The patterns will be available wherever Formica is sold, including kitchen and bath showrooms, Home Depot and Lowe's.

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