News & Info to Share

Material Bank has proven itself to be a tremendous resource for the design community, and you can count me among those that are impressed.  I have, however, noticed a few issues that may be worth discussing with colleagues… particularly newer designers.

  1. Not everything is commercial
  • Just because its on Material Bank, does not mean that you can use it for commercial projects.   An example of this is a drapery memo I saw on a commercial palette that was NOT fire-rated. 
  1. Local Sources
  • Stone and quartz surfaces can be quite expensive to ship.  Particularly with quartz I have come across samples from groups that do not have local warehouses.  So, if you end up specifying a single private-label quartz slab from a group based in Arizona, you might end up needing to find a local alternative once the shipping costs are included.
  1. Representation
  • You don’t need a rep… until you do.  Someone that might warn you about stock or lead-time issues on a product specific basis, or will work on your behalf to solve such problems.  From experience I can attest to the fact that the rep contacts listed on Material Bank aren’t always responsive.
  1. Don’t Assume Pricing
  • In many cases, pricing guidance on Material Bank is based on a scale that is probably relative to the vendor’s other lines.  In one case I noticed a beautiful silk-wool blend rug sample on a project that did not have the budget to cover that type of product.  Out of curiosity, I checked the Material Bank listing and saw three-dollar signs “$$$”.  I then checked out one of the more expensive carpets from one of the well-known commercial groups, and noticed that it also had three-dollar signs “$$$”, yet the difference in actual cost was around $100 per yard.

Designers that have been at this for a while intuitively evaluate products on Material Bank with these and other issues in mind.  However, younger designers don’t seem to be doing so, and it might be worth communicating these sort of issues with your team members.


Experts Corner


Though this section of the site is most often dedicate to some of the more staid and tecnical parts of the design world, this entry will be a bit different.  One of the designers in our local scene, Megan Capo of Streetsense, put together a very nice blog post on some of the materials she thought noteworthy from her trip to the Hospitality Design show in Las Vegas.  For those of us, who love the unique, it is well worth a look.  Megan's blog is linked here.

The world of "Sustainable Design" is so broad that it seems the most products can make a claim to having some attribute that fall under its rubric.  However, with the effective marketing strategies that focus on the positive, the design community sometimes faces a Wizard of Oz scenario in which we are enouraged "not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain;" namely the ingredients used to make a product.

An example might be a product can claim to be "PVC-Free."  While perhaps this is laudable in comparison to other products in the category; they might not be telling you of other harmful materials contained within the product.  As with the consumer demand for greater transparency on food labeling, the design community has been asking for this information, and there are a growing number of resources to help.


For many years design professionals have had to consider the Coefficient of Friction when specfying tile, particulalry for "wet" environments, including bathrooms, lobby areas, etc.  Those of you who have dealt with this enough times will remember that the commonly accepted, though technically not required, COF was 0.6.  What this author did not know was that the COF being referred to was the SCOF, or rather the Static Coefficient of Friction, which tested the resistance when the testing surfaces began the test stationary and then the "foot" surface was moved to evaluate slip resistance (the test was the ASTM C1028).  Effective January 2014 the Tile Council of North American (TCNA), has called for a new test, the DCOF AcuTest to be used to evaluate tile.  The "D" in the DCOF refers to "Dyanamic" and reflects an adjustment in the testing methodology for which the the "foot" surface will make contact with the surface being tested when the "foot" is already in motion.  The new number that we will all have to become accustomed to for "wet" environments is a DCOF AcuTest value of 0.42.