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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.