AN Interior Top 50 designers share their favorite building materials

Love to Build

AN Interior Top 50 designers share their favorite building materials

(Benjamin Cadena)

We surveyed the AN Interior Top 50 interior architects and designers and asked them to reveal what they love to build with. You’ll find their favorite products and materials below.

Photo of Pigmented Silver Nitrates
(Courtesy Savvy Studio)

Pigmented Silver Nitrates
Rafael Prieto
Founder and Creative Director, Savvy Studio

“As a studio we always like to experiment with materials to discover new colors and shapes. Here we work on the superposition of layers of pigmented silver nitrates and then polish them to create random effects of colors and shapes.”

Photo of Soy-Based Spray Foam Insulation
(Courtesy Leong Leong)

Soy-Based Spray Foam Insulation
Chris and Dominic Leong
Partners, Leong Leong

“High-performance and aesthetically uncanny, soy-based spray foam insulation is a perfect example of the type of materiality we are interested in. Commonly used for insulation, spray foam has an organic quality that is never entirely predictable. It’s a very low-fi product that has an amazing sculptural plasticity and formlessness—a kind of industrial wabi-sabi effect.”

Photo of Expanded Metal Mesh
(Benjamin Cadena)

Expanded Metal Mesh
Benjamin Cadena
Principal, Studio Cadena

“By carefully hanging rolls of standard industrial-grade expanded mesh from the ceiling, we are able to drape it much like a fabric. By hanging the metal mesh draperies like a fabric in the space, from a distance they become more translucent and lose their harshness to great effect. By hand painting the material and using it an unexpected way, we can transform it into something else.”

Photo of Tiles and Finishes by Concrete Collaborative
(Colin King)

Tiles and Finishes by Concrete Collaborative
Morris Adjmi
Principal, Morris Adjmi Architects

“In our interior projects, we love to use concrete for its natural character, precision, durability, economy, range of surface textures, and depth of color. It’s also environmentally friendly. Our go-to concrete provider is Concrete Collaborative for everything from terrazzo to polished tiles [Laguna] and panels, flooring [Ventura], pavers for the outdoors, and stair treads.”

Photo of Calacatta Viola Marble
(Charlie Schuck)

Calacatta Viola Marble by ABC Stone
Oliver Haslegrave
Creative Director and Founder, Home Studios

“Stone is a lifelong favorite material, especially honed marble. We’ve used it in nearly every element of our interiors over the years—surfaces, seating, tables, lighting, votives. Plus, we love searching for the perfect slab.”

Cloudburst Concrete 4011 by Caesarstone
Alda Ly
Principal, Alda Ly Architecture & Design

“We’re very picky about finding the right amount of movement in solid surfaces. We love when it feels natural but doesn’t go overboard. Caesarstone’s Cloudburst Concrete is a natural concrete color with a beautiful cloudy patina. The larger the slab, the more pattern is visible.”

Photo of Colored Film
(Alexander Severin)

Colored Film by Solar Graphics
Craig Steely
Principal, Craig Steely Architecture

“I’m excited about our recent experiments to create space with colored films on glass. We have been using colors and their shadows to imply architecture and create hierarchies in our spaces. I’m interested in the contrast between physical materials and colored light and shadow as space delineators.”

Photo of Roll-A-Tex (medium grain)
Display for Opening Ceremony (Courtesy New Affiliates)

Roll-A-Tex (medium grain)
Jaffer Kolb and Ivi Diamantopoulo
Principals, New Affiliates

“Roll-A-Tex is a great additive to use with paint to create a rocky surface texture. We used it in a display for Opening Ceremony as a way of setting it apart from all of its slick neighboring materials. Plus, texture helps mask surface flaws like a panacea.”

Photo of Inky Custom Glaze by Boston Valley Terra Cotta
(Alan Tansey)

Inky Custom Glaze by Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Michael Chen
Principal, Michael K Chen Architecture (MKCA)

“It’s the rare interior of ours that doesn’t incorporate some degree of three-dimensional or sculptural texture. We’re often looking for ways for surfaces to be more lively, and
to produce a certain play of light and shadow. For that, we often look to three-dimensional ceramics. Often when the work is inside, and especially in cities, you’re confronted with spaces that are challenged in terms of natural light. It’s incredible how much dimension can be coaxed out of a fairly dark space though texture and reflectivity.”

Photo of Terrazzo by John Caretti & Co
(Courtesy ASEOP USA)

Terrazzo by John Caretti & Co
Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley
Principals, Norman Kelley

“Terrazzo comes in many finishes and applications, most commonly poured and polished. This typically presents a smooth surface with a variegated appearance. For our Aesop Lincoln Park project, we wanted those attributes in reverse. Something that appeared monolithic from afar, with texture and variation up close. Instead of polishing, we opted for exposing a monochromatic palette of gray-black aggregate within a warm gray cement base. Applied with a trowel, the material seamlessly transitions the horizontal and vertical surfaces of a series of interior steps.”

Photo of Kenyan Black Marble by SMC Stone
(Eric Petschek)

Kenyan Black Marble by SMC Stone
Alexander Gorlin
Principal, Alexander Gorlin Architects

“Kenyan Black Marble is one of my favorites for the graphically swirling veins that are especially expressive in a residential setting. I love to select the exact slab and lay out the location of the design on the slabs themselves.”

Photo of Vinyl by 3M
(Jasper Sanidad)

Vinyl by 3M
Primo Orpilla
Principal, Studio O+A

“When the challenge is getting the maximum visual impact, you really can’t beat vinyl. Our designers have developed a sophisticated approach to matching vinyl wall graphics to the spaces they are meant to transform—kinetic patterns for active areas like break rooms and town halls; quieter patterns for places where people need to concentrate. Vinyl is our Brand Studio’s go-to product—it can turn a wall into an abstract canvas or a giant photograph. It can travel down the wall and continue onto the floor. We use vinyl on glass-walled conference rooms for privacy and on bare concrete surfaces to make them playful. We use it to give staircases personality and to introduce color into offices that might otherwise default to neutral. And if you’re trying to hint at a cultural reference without getting too literal, vinyl is perfect for replicating indigenous art and textiles, from Finland to Indonesia.”

Photo of Corian
(Courtesy 64North)

Wil Carson
Design Director, 64North

“One of our favorite materials is Corian because of its flexibility and the diversity of applications we can use, and misuse, it for—especially in terms of its ability to be machined or bent. Whether we are machining 2D patterns into its surface or creating more complex 3D relief, its ability to be shaped combined with its visual and haptic qualities gives us a quite rich, mutable palette to work with.”