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  • How to Read an Environmental Product Declaration

    Photography Courtesy of Sensitile Systems. 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.…

  • Elements of Modernist Design

    The Eames House by Modernist Architects and Designers Charles and Ray Eames. Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock. 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…

  • 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…

  • Exploring 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

    The Secession Building. Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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…

  • Exploring Greek Revival Style

    Second Bank of the United States in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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…

  • Exploring the Influence of Buckminster Fuller

    The Geodesic Dome. Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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…

  • A History of Art Deco

    Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock. 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…

  • A Brief Overview of the Baroque Style

    Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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…

  • Memphis Design Style Elements

    Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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…

  • 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 International Style

    The Willis Tower in Chicago. Photography courtesy of EQRoy/Shutterstock.com 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…

  • The Circular Economy: Tighter Loops

    The circular economy was designed as a financial system that could form part of a solution for the world’s ecological challenges. Its goal is to reduce environmental impacts and generate economic growth by reusing materials and eliminating waste and pollution, moving away from the consumption of finite resources and towards…

  • Characteristics of Mediterranean Style

    When looked at individually, the nearly two dozen countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia that surround the Mediterranean Sea have wildly different design histories and aesthetics. However, as Mediterranean style began to gain popularity in North America from 1918 to 1940, designers and architects pulled inspiration from elements that were…

  • Material Health: Specification Strategies Part II

    Knowledge Bank is taking a closer look at specification strategies that design teams can implement in their projects to prioritize human health. By selecting healthier materials, building professionals can help reduce occupant exposure to toxic chemicals, and improve the health and well-being of communities. In this article, we’ll build on…

  • Exploring Elements of Midcentury Modernism

    The Wassily Chair by Marcel Breuer. Photography Courtesy of Knoll. Midcentury Modernism is generally defined as a design style that spread through the United States and Western Europe from the late 1930s to early 1960s, although it saw the most prevalence from around 1945 to 1955. However, since it pulled…

  • A Primer on Cleanability for High-Touch Surfaces

    Photography Courtesy of United FabricsExplore Materials and Sample Before 2020, only specialists needed to know the ins and outs of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Now it is more important than ever before. The surfaces that we touch frequently in indoor spaces can harbor harmful microbes and toxins, turning them into…

  • Material Health: Specification Strategies

    The first article in our series on material health explored toxicity and exposure in the built environment, including the ways that people can be exposed and the process for assessing risk. The quality of the indoor environment is vital to human health because we spend 90 percent of our lives…

  • An Overview of the Arts and Crafts Movement

    Larkspur by William Morris (1834-1896). Photography Courtesy of The Met Museum/Shutterstock.com The Arts and Crafts movement is a historical style of design that began in the United Kingdom around the 1860s before expanding into the United States around 1890. Based on the philosophies of A.W.N. Pugin and John Ruskin, the…

  • Indoor Air Quality Strategies and Solutions: Ventilation

    While many of us spend more time indoors than ever before, the pollution levels of indoor air are two to ten times higher than those found outdoors. Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be compromised by sources such as building materials, fuel-burning appliances, household cleaning and maintenance products, heating and cooling…

  • The Lasting Legacy of Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus Style

    Known as the mind behind the Bauhaus and its innovative approach to art education, the influence of Walter Gropius has shaped the history of Modernist architecture and design throughout Europe and the United States. Despite only managing to stay open between 1919 and 1932—at which point it closed under duress…

  • 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…