Architects and designers today are met with seemingly endless options when it comes to selecting materials. While news tends to favor those pushing the envelope of material science, we have also been tracking a trend among top designers who are turning to old, even ancient materials and melding them with contemporary practice. Biophilic design has entered the mainstream, and natural surfaces (or those mimicking them) are all the rage. On social media, we find plenty of evidence for the resurgence in popularity of 20th-century products like Formica, which was innovative in its day but neglected for decades since. We checked in with leading interior architects across the country to discuss the materials they have been using to infuse classic sophistication into their latest projects.
Brick from Old Texas Brick
Founder, T.W. Ryan Architecture
“With the Three Chimney House, we searched for materials that were an integral part of the local building tradition but could also speak a more contemporary visual language. Brick seemed a natural choice with these criteria in mind. After much searching, we found Old Texas Brick located in Pharr, Texas. Their ‘vintage white’ bricks are hand-coated with a lime wash prior to firing in the kiln, resulting in a rich and tactile surface. Laid in a running bond with flush mortar joints smeared across the face, we emphasized the mass of the elemental forms over the individual brick units.”
Accoya wood from Delta Millworks
Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong
Founders, Kwong Von Glinow
“The exterior cladding material is the first experience that people encounter with a building. The material needs to look good, be durable, and perform in all seasons and weather conditions. We love to use sustainably harvested wood like Accoya on our projects because it balances two very different and distinct qualities—wood cladding can look monolithic, but each plank is unique and has its own grain to it. We recently exposed this effect on our Ardmore House in Chicago, stacking gray and black Accoya wood siding above a concrete exposed foundation wall.”
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