Product Showcase

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.


If you put a thick layer of oatmeal underneath a red-velvet cake… does that make the cake healthy or a good choice for someone trying to lose weight?

Why have we bought into the idea that adding a sometimes very weighty layer of recycled material to the same yarn systems as broadloom, makes the product more sustainable than broadloom?  It seems reasonable to expect that in most cases that the tile format represents a substantial increase in the amount of embodied energy per square yard of floor-covering.  And some of the modular backings are quite heavy, also increasing the impact on transportation energy and costs.

Of course, one of the old arguments was that the ability to swap-out individually stained or damaged tiles, makes the installed system more sustainable.  However, we’ve all been in enough offices now to observe that these stained and damaged tiles are rarely swapped out (even when attic stock is present).  In fact, many of us have observed this in their own firms.

Carpet tile has some very interesting and versatile aesthetic attributes; and this brief commentary isn’t anti-modular.  It’s just an interesting question to consider if the design community has devalued the broadloom options based on sustainability concerns that might not be wholly justified.


With a growing number of sustainable flooring options becoming available, it seemed like an appropriate time to note that some of the products have actually been out for quite some time; and have the performance track record to make them a viable choice for commercial applications.  In this brief recap, four products are in the spotlight - Mannington's Cirrro, Mats Inc Purline, Mohwak's Pivot Point, and Shaw's In Tandem.  














This is is the REED style of large format tile (approximately 48x110") from Caesar.  It is part of their new JOIN COLLECTION.

The A&D community has been exercising both its creativity and technical skills of late, putting forth design concepts and operational guidelines that will help their clients move forward in the COVID environment.  The following will hopefully be a growing set of links to the insightful concepts and guidelines.

Design Concept - Mud Room by Wingate Hughes

Operations Guidance - Hotel Survival Guide by Streetsense

Operations Guidance - Roadmap For Return by Perkins + Will


Both natural stone and tile can exhibit significantly different tones depending ont the finish.  For granite, three of the better known finishes are polished, honed and flamed.  In the accompanying picture there are two samples of Absolute Black Granite - one flamed and one honed (both from Marble Systems).  The lovely white quartz surface used to demonstrate color values is the White Zeus Extreme from Silestone.

WALLPLANKS is a newer product in the peel & stick wood wall cladding category.  The prroduct is is made differently than its better known competitor, and has a commerical warranty.  For additional information or samples, you can contact Mark Soltis of JJ Haines.


Six Degrees Flooring Tread & RiserSix Degrees Flooring is making what we believe is a "first in category" product - an all-in-one LVT tread and riser that is part of their IMPRESSIONS line.  The product is being represented locally by Jim Poling of Stanley Stephens.  Another important attribute of this product can be summed up with a statement from the manufacturer : "Only Non Phthalate plasticizers are used in the production of our floors. Six Degrees was the first in the industry to make this important change."

Benjamin Moore has released their Color Trends of 2019, as shown below.

The range of format, scale and texture of products has been growing at a tremendous rate, and we thought we'd would share a couple of interesting products... not brand new, but special in their way.

Bati Orient - Coffee Tree Mosaic


The wood mosaic tile is Coffee Tree Mosaic from BATI ORIENT (represented by Conestoga Tile) and comes in at a price point in the low $20s/sf; and the indoor/outdoor rug product is Looping from ZENITH RUGS (represented by Out Design Group)... but it comes in at about $100/sf.