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The Advantages of Acoustical Plaster

Although plaster has been used since the ancient world, acoustical plaster has been gaining momentum in the industry over the last couple of decades due to its sound absorption properties and seamless appearance. Acoustical plaster has an array of inherent advantages that include flexibility, ease of installation, a lightweight design,…

The Enduring Appeal of Zellige Tile

Zellige tiling is a time-tested art form that features fresh textures, rich colorways, and handcrafted charm. The glossy, handmade tiles come in a broad selection of shapes and sizes—though they are most commonly square—and due to the imperfect nature of the glaze no two pieces are exactly alike. With artisanal…

A History of the Environmental Justice Movement

In 1983, the United States General Accounting Office found that three out of every four off-site commercial waste hazards in the southern US were located in predominantly African American communities—even though African Americans only made up 20 percent of the region’s population. And this was no anomaly. Today, three out…

A Brief Overview of Bouclé Fabrics

Showcasing a stylish and sophisticated aesthetic achieved through a unique weaving process, bouclé is a heavy textile that holds a rich and intricate history. A staple of midcentury modern design, bouclé fabrics continue to bring cozy texture to upholstered furniture and accents in contemporary interiors. The fashionable fabrics feature a curly,…

A Closer Look at LVT Flooring

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is a hard surface flooring material available in a range of shapes, sizes, and aesthetics that can evoke the appearance of authentic wood or stone while providing practical benefits not possible with natural products. Available in a diverse array of different constructions, LVT plank or tile…

Exploring Thermally Fused and High-Pressure Laminate

For more than a century, designers and architects have used laminate when looking for surfacing solutions that offer a range of aesthetics. Today, Thermally Fused Laminate (TFL, also known as Thermally Fused Melamine (TFM)) and High Pressure Laminate (HPL) provide cost-effective options. The information that follows will explore the similarities…

Biomaterials and Biodesign

Biodesign is a quickly growing field that uses materials derived from living organisms rather than finite resources or synthetics. Living materials—made from anything that can reproduce, including plants, animals, insects, fungi, and even bacteria—have the potential to be more sustainable, healthier, and higher performing building alternatives than traditional materials. Biologists,…

Resin in Interior Design Applications

Plastics have changed the world for better and for worse, but they don’t have to die out with disposable consumer culture. Resins are a family of plastics that began as any of myriad clear to translucent yellow or brown, solid or semisolid, viscous substances, such as copal, rosin or amber,…

Comparing Incandescent and LED Lighting

With climate change a central issue in President Joe Biden’s administration, designers can expect a renewed push to phase out incandescent bulbs in favor of LEDs. The latter, which utilize 70 to 80 percent less electricity than incandescents to produce the same light, are a simple, significant way to reduce…

Understanding Labels on Recycled Content: Post-Industrial, Pre-Consumer, and Post-Consumer

It should come as no surprise that one of the most popular sustainability strategies adopted by companies and individuals is recycling. Everywhere we look there are recycled plastic bags, recycled cell phone cases, recycled lawn furniture, recycled yoga mats and sneakers and rugs. The popularity of recycling means that it’s…

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Designers and architects are constantly looking for ways to make life better through built spaces. It’s not hard to find building professionals who are eager to make headway on issues like accessibility, sustainability, and health – and there are countless models and strategies for making improvements. The United Nation’s Sustainable…

A Brief History of Terracotta

A unique clay that is celebrated for its rich, reddish orange hues, Terracotta has been used in sculptural art, architecture, and pottery for centuries by civilizations across the globe. Holding a prominent place in history, the material’s many modern uses include a diverse range of design applications—from tiles, mosaics, and…

A Comparison Between Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring

Low-priced and highly resilient, vinyl and linoleum flooring have both been used by designers and architects for decades. While the two materials maintain many common characteristics and similarities, a number of important differences between linoleum and vinyl exist. The information that follows offers an overview of each material and a…

A Closer Look at Linen

An age-old material made from the fibers of the flax plant, linen is a renewable resource regarded for its soft touch, smooth texture, strength, and durability. As one of the oldest textiles developed, linen can be traced back to ancient Egypt when it was often used as currency and a…

How to Read an Environmental Product Declaration

What is an EPD? If you’ve spent time scrolling through the environmental credentials for materials, you may have noticed the acronym EPD. It’s short for Environmental Product Declaration, and it’s a document that provides verified information about a product’s environmental impact across its life cycle. It’s not a certification or…

Elements of Modernist Design

Reinventing the relationship between space and aesthetics, the Modernist design style emerged at the turn of the 20th century as a celebration of composition and materiality achieved through transparency, technology, and efficiency. Guided by the idea that “form follows function,” the design movement is connected to the age of machination…

Exploring California’s Air Quality Standards

If you’ve spent time toggling through search options on Material Bank, you may have found a tag called “CDPH/CHPS 01350 compliant” and another labeled “CARB compliant” under the Certificates and Standards filter. CDPH/CHPS 01350 and CARB are home-grown California standards and standards-setters for air quality. They are very important for…

A Better Understanding of BIFMA Standards

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association is known as BIFMA, and its namesake furniture standards are widely known across the design industry, but little understood. The confusion primarily exists around what the organization is, and what its standards mean for the products being specified and purchased. BIFMA is not…

Choosing the Right Building Standard: LEED, WELL, and Fitwel

For design firms and companies who value human and environmental health, building rating systems are a helpful route to achieving some of the industry’s most ambitious, forward-looking goals. They set high standards for all kinds of building projects, from residential spaces to offices and schools, for both new construction and…

Exploring Plastic and its Alternatives in a Circular Economy

Type “pollution” in Google Images and alongside photos of billowing smokestacks, you’ll see landfills brimming with plastic, plastic bottles washed up on beaches, plastic floating in bodies of water. Type in “plastic” and you’ll find much the same, linking to articles with titles such as “A Tidal Wave of Plastic,”…

Biophilia and Biomimicry in Design

It’s easy to see why biophilia and biomimicry are frequently confused. They’re both design strategies that are inspired by nature and they were both introduced through the environmental movement – not to mention that they sound quite similar. But they’re actually entirely different concepts used in different ways – and…

A Brief History of the Vienna Secession

Like many styles in the late 19th through 20th centuries, the Vienna Secession was a rejection of the traditional conservative style that was prevalent throughout art, architecture, and design. Begun by notable artists and architects Gustav Klimt, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Koloman Moser, and Josef Hoffman among others who had been…

Exploring Greek Revival Style

Inspired by the symmetry, simplicity, and proportions of ancient Athens temples, Greek Revival architecture became a dominant design style in the United States and Northern Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Strong columns, gently sloping roofs, and gracefully proportioned interiors characterized the classical style, which continues to…

Exploring the Influence of Buckminster Fuller

A renowned visionary celebrated for cross-disciplinary and pioneering projects produced during the 20th century, Richard Buckminster Fuller’s inventions, ingenuity, and ideologies hold a lasting influence on contemporary architecture and design. With an expansive portfolio of projects that covered and combined many fields—from architecture and science to art and even cartography—Fuller…

A History of Art Deco

Art Deco was one of the most influential Western aesthetic movements of the twentieth century, particularly in France and the United States. Short for arts décoratifs, or decorative arts, Art Deco was named after the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which was held in Paris in 1925….

A Brief Overview of the Baroque Style

Characterized by an elaborately ornate and highly adorned aesthetic that aims to inspire a sense of awe, Baroque is an extravagant and complex style of art and architecture associated with grandeur and luxury. Evoking ethereality through the use of unexpected and dramatic contrasts, Baroque décor often incorporates movement with bold,…

Memphis Design Style Elements

Bright colors, bold shapes, and patterns galore—when the Memphis style burst onto the scene in 1981, it wasn’t just a stark contrast from International Style and Midcentury Modernism which had reigned in the design vernacular over the previous decades, but it became part of the defining characteristics of the 1980s….

A Primer on Take-Back Programs

In 2015, the United States construction and demolition industry generated 169 million tons of debris from buildings, more than half of which ended up in landfills. That’s 169 million tons of concrete, wood, wallboard, shingles, brick and clay tiles, and steel that could be reused or recycled. The high volume…

A Brief History of the Circular Economy

In recent years, the circular economy has become a wildly popular concept—one that many companies want a piece of. It’s easier to evaluate claims of circularity with a clearer picture of what it means and where it comes from. The circular economy concept is the product of a few different…

An Overview of the International Style

In the midst of chaos in the early- to mid-20th century, International Style emerged as a response by architects to societal issues that were plaguing Western countries. While design before the 20th century often took inspiration from previous styles and centered around revivalist ideals, architects and designers saw a draw…