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  • Exploring the Designer’s Role

    Designers make some of the most important decisions about the spaces we live in. The wooden floor, the carpeting, the wall cladding and windows, the bronze kitchen hardware and tile backsplash and leather couch – all exist based on choices made by designers long before they became part of interior…

  • The History of Passive House

    Photography Courtesy of Passive House Institute US Passive building strategies use elements like a building’s location, the local climate, and materials as natural opportunities to save energy on heating and cooling systems and keep operational costs down. They can help reduce front-end costs, as well as emissions related to heating,…

  • How Materials Passports Could Transform the Building Industry

    Imagine that your house, your office, your grocery store, and your bank are all part of a database with information about what building materials they contain and how each can eventually be reused or recycled. It’s housed in something called a “materials passport,” a digital document that provides information about…

  • The Benefits of Bamboo

    Bamboo showcases sustainable qualities, nuanced natural textures, and hardwearing characteristics that make it ideal for an array of design applications. Acclaimed for its design-forward aesthetics, physical strength, and environmental benefits, bamboo is becoming increasingly popular as a material in architecture, interior, and industrial design. Bamboo’s broad selection of interior uses…

  • 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…

  • Comparing Incandescent and LED Lighting

    Photography Courtesy of Shutterstock 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,…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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

    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 the International Style

    The Willis Tower in Chicago. Photography courtesy of Shutterstock 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…