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Fashion key focus to laminate furniture creator.

General Mica Corp. creates a spectrum of design-oriented furniture top quality laminate products.

As a laminated furniture manufacturer, General Mica is in the fashion business -- not the furniture business -- said Ralph Federici. Federici is president of RAF Associates which has exclusive sales and distributor rights to General Mica Corp., located in North Miami, Fla.

The employees are "fabricators" according to Federici and whether the furniture is office, residential, juvenile, hospitality or institutional, General Mica "leans toward fashion, style and design," he said.

Recent General Mica projects include:

* 1,000 room hotel project divided between the Trump Plaza and the Trump Regency in Atlantic City

* 1,500 cabins for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

* Office installation for Paradise Resorts International in Hawaii

Design: A family affair

Many General Mica pieces are designed by Federici's daughter, Athena Federici Carlin. When designing furniture, she said, she incorporates the latest trends and strives for exclusive styles. Real wood bullnosed edges are popular now, she said, especially in the hospitality industry. Pieces with wood grains and matching wood edgings are some of the company's hottest sellers.

For juvenile furniture, she said, white is the most popular because it is the cleanest looking and parents can add colors to suit individual tastes or current children's design trends.

When introducing a new design, although it is the color that sells, the material used is very important. "It is the quality of the material that brings the design to life," she added.

The recent technological advances in high pressure laminate allow General Mica to be very creative from a design standpoint, Federici said. Embossed materials, metallic laminates and ticking (taking wood grain and putting a registered tick into the material) help them meet the needs of its sophisticated clients. "You're only as good as your sources and Nevamar, Wilsonart, Formica and Pioneer have done a great job in designing product lines," Federici said.

In addition, today's consumer is aware of design, Federici said. "His eyes are tuned into looking at rounded corners and interesting shapes."

So, in keeping with the current trends many items are postformed, feature waterfall edges and have rounded corners for safety.

Fabrication: a key element

Federici said that products are "tropitized" to withstand the elements of a peninsula. Since Florida is surrounded by saltwater, the core for the furniture is made of 47-pound industrial particleboard and the company uses epoxy-coated drawer slides on its furniture.

Most of the cores, including console frames, pyramids and tables are premade, as well as drawers.

Larger particleboard pieces are cut on a two-sided Giben panel saw. A Midwest Automation continuous line postforming system applies laminates on pieces such as shelving for kids' units and end posts, triangle shapes and furniture with rounded sides. Laminates for flat pieces are laid up by hand.

The future of laminates

Ralph Federici tries to dispel the myth that laminate is a replacement for wood. "Unfortunately, laminate was introduced as a cheap substitute for wood and most people tend to think of a substitute as an inferior product. There is room for both," Federici said. Because of high technology and unique designs, very fine furniture can be made with laminates, he said. "Laminates provide an alternative for real wood, marble and leather."

Also, with the influx of OSHA and EPA regulations, laminates are carving out a bigger niche for the future; lamination is a clean industry that does not involve smokestacks and does not pollute rivers, Federici said.

Furthermore, Federici added as the future unfolds for plastic laminates, the awareness of the educational factor is becoming more and more important. He suggested filming the manufacture of laminated furniture from the design process to the finished product since it is easier to train someone on a visual subject versus strictly reading about the methodology.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Vance Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:General Mica Corp.
Publication:Wood & Wood Products
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Words:629
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