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A Brief History of Leather

A time-honored testament to material ingenuity, leather has served as an enduring element of design history. With an array of advantages that were first discovered in prehistoric times, leather’s aesthetics and applications have evolved and expanded over the years as a result of modern technology and industry innovations. The information…

Material Health: Investigating Toxicity and Exposure

Today, people spend more time indoors than ever before. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, on average we spend 90 percent of our lives indoors working, playing, sleeping, eating, learning, socializing, and exercising. This means that the quality of the indoor environment is critical to human health, especially because…

A Comparison Between Declarations and Certifications

When designers and other building professionals page through materials for project specifications, there’s a lot of information to sort through. In particular, information about a product’s sustainability and health effects can be easily misinterpreted amongst a wide agglomeration of labels, certifications, and declarations. How should designers parse through this information…

An Exploration of Eero Saarinen’s Enduring Designs

One of the most recognized names in 20th century design and architecture, Eero Saarinen’s organic forms introduced an interesting aesthetic that was a breath of fresh air during the wave of International Style buildings and Modernist furnishings. Saarinen’s design work included institutional buildings for education and industry as well furniture….

A Brief History of Tibetan Rugs

Since they were introduced to the West in the 1970s, Tibetan wool rugs have been admired for their texture, colors, and patterns. But how did they become a popular import, and how do they differ from other hand-knotted rugs? The history of Tibetan rugs is uncertain. The first time that…

A Closer Look at Toxicity: Six Classes

A World of Chemicals In today’s world, nearly all of our material needs and resources are in some way derived from industrial chemicals. They are in the furniture we lounge on, the doors we open, and the appliances, cookware, and clothing that we use every day. And the list goes…

An Exploration of Embodied Carbon

Carbon is often referenced in relation to climate change—it’s a buzzword that appears on news alerts about rising temperatures, carbon taxes, and energy plans. Carbon has come to be shorthand for carbon dioxide (CO2), a colorless, odorless gas that is released into the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like…

An Overview of Wood Block Printing

Wood block printing onto fabric has been a main staple of Indian culture and commerce for the last 2,000 years. Although today there are mechanical means, such as screen printing, which are able to mimic the appearance of traditional block printing—some not only echoing the motifs, but integrating minute mistakes…

A Comparison Between Biodegradation and Composting

The terms biodegradable and compostable can be a source of confusion on product labels. They’ve become trendy keywords and catchalls used interchangeably that give consumers the sense that these products are eco-friendly and will decompose quickly at the end of their life cycles. But it’s not quite that simple—there are…

The Influence of Designer Gio Ponti

Giovanni Ponti was an architect, designer, exhibition organizer, and editor who is widely thought to be one of the major influences of the 20th century. His most famous works include the Superleggera chair, the Littoria Tower—which is now known as the Branca Tower—and the Pirelli Tower in Milan, and the…

A Brief History of Matelassé Fabrics

A dexterously double-woven fabric that first gained popularity during the 18th century, matelassé materials mimic the dimensional designs of handcrafted quilts made in the south of France. The figured fabrics feature a weave that is distinctly designed to imitate the intricacies of quilting. The information that follows explores the origins,…

Types of Timber: A Comparison Between Hardwood and Softwood

Diverse design projects often demand different types of timber. An awareness of the distinctions between various species can help to determine material selections that will best suit certain design needs. While it is well-understood that wood is often classified into two categories—hardwood and softwood—the driving differences between these two classifications…

A Summary of Sintered Stone

Sintered stones are expertly engineered with high-performance properties to provide exceptionally strong and stable surfaces. An innovative manmade material that can be used across an array of interior applications—from flooring and wall surfaces to countertops and cabinetry—sintered stone is turned to for its supremely strong performance characteristics and increasingly extensive…

Architectural Ornamentations: Exploring Egg-and-Dart and Dentil Mouldings

A classic architectural embellishment with a long lineage, decorative mouldings can be used to mask, contour, or enhance the seams of surfaces with an added flourish. Cutting a striking profile with prominent angles and sinuous curves, the traditional trimmings can create a cohesive and polished aesthetic. Adapted from elements of…

A Brief History of Bentwood Furniture

A pioneering design that transformed interiors and revolutionized industrial production processes, bentwood furniture features an iconic appeal that has transcended time. Its sleek and sinuous forms are fashioned from a centuries-old technique rooted in steam-bent, laminated woodwork. As a formative feature in the history of furniture design, classic bentwood chairs…

The Legacy of Limestone

Limestone is lauded for its lasting durability and versatility. Maintaining an enduring material history, the nuanced natural stone has been utilized for millenniums in the making of many architectural masterpieces. Storied limestone structures situated around the world have stood the test of time, demonstrating the distinct advantages achieved with its application….

The Acoustic, Aesthetic, and Environmental Advantages of Felt

Inherent advantages including durability and modularity make felt a versatile material that meets the design needs of a variety of interior settings. “Felt’s design power is threefold,” says John Stein, president and founder of Kirei. “It offers advantages of both color and tactile beauty, with the ability to drastically reduce echo…

An Overview of Rubber Flooring

Rubber is revered as an exceedingly ecologically friendly material equipped with a rare balance of function and form that is well-suited for use as resilient flooring. Naturally slip-proof and shock-absorbent, rubber’s range of recompenses include its extreme elasticity, strength, durability, and ease of maintenance, as well as a resistance to…

The Enduring Appeal of Kilims

Characterized by captivating colors, graphic geometric patterns, and flatwoven forms, the kilim holds a vibrant history that spans centuries and reflects a rich compilation of cultural influences. The pileless, tapestry-woven rugs and textiles are regarded by many as a material representation of the crossroads between Eastern and Western cultures, ….

A History of Subway Tiles

The subway tile is an essential element of interior design that holds a storied 100-year history, having first emerged in the early twentieth century as an easy-to-clean, sleek surfacing solution for the subterranean spaces beneath New York City streets. The ubiquitous three-by-six-inch rectangular tile has evolved from applications across Manhattan…

Material Measures: The Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness

An essential aspect of many material specification methods involves a determination of durability and resistance to abrasion. Developed over 200 years ago, the Mohs scale of mineral hardness offers a straightforward system for testing the toughness of materials—including minerals, rocks, and gemstones—that roughly measures of the resistance of a smooth…

Advantages of Acid Etched Glass Treatments

When a designed space demands both opacity and openness from its surfaces, etched glass panels provide a favorable fix for an array of applications. Adding dimensionality and depth to interiors, decorative acid etched glass surfaces deliver a degree of privacy by delicately obscuring outlines and shapes while still permitting light…

An Overview of Onyx

Characterized by kaleidoscopic colors unfolding across undulating layers, onyx is a precious gemstone material that is imbued with intrigue. The lightweight and luminous stone has a long and rich history of use—its earliest appearances can be traced back to ancient Egypt and Greece. With an elegant and opulent aesthetic defined…

Acoustical Solutions: Sound Absorption and Sound Transmission

Acoustics play a crucial role in any environment, impacting everything from productivity in the workplace to the market value of residences. Though the science behind sound is well established, the act of implementing it to design a desirable acoustic environment is complex and a broad scope of solutions is used…

Woven History: Ikat and Suzani Textiles

As enduring symbols of time-honored textile traditions, the diverse yet distinctive designs of ikat and suzani textiles trace the influences of techniques advanced by cultures and continents around the world. “Ikats showcase an ancient technique that has a really incredible combination of artisanship and sophisticated engineering,” says Pam Marshall, Vice President…

Janka Scale Standards for Wood Species

When looking for lumber that will last underfoot, qualities such as durability, dimensional stability, and hardness are highly desirable. Since wood varies in hardness from species to species, a successful flooring selection should be determined by more than just a simple hardwood designation. The Janka hardness scale serves to quantify…

Renewable Resources: Advantages of Cork Flooring

A celebrated interior element, cork is a compelling renewable resource regarded for its tactile touch and timeless, organic appeal. The vast majority of cork is used in the production of bottle stops, while its other uses range from consumer goods to construction uses and transportation components. Ubiquitously used for design…

A History of Damask and Brocade Fabrics

Distinguished by delicately rendered decorative patterning, damasks and brocades are two types of finely detailed fabrics. Bearing many similarities, they are often thought to be interchangeable by those less acquainted with their intricacies. While both fabrics boast age-old histories dating back to centuries ago, their alluring appeal has endured over…

The Power of Performance Fabrics

It is well known that performance fabrics are ideal for outfitting high traffic areas in interior spaces that are designed to stand the test of time. When searching for easy-to-clean materials that can hold up to heavy wear-and-tear, it is best to specify those that are armed with attributes such…

The Benefits of Bleach Cleanability

Durable and disinfectable materials that can hold up to continuous cleanings have become increasingly critical in today’s climate. Diluted chlorine bleach has been used for decades as a steadfast disinfectant and stain solution. When searching for textiles that are equipped to tackle today’s challenges, options that boast bleach cleanability are in…