Category Archives: Interior Design

Beyond Amenities, What’s Next for Workplace Design?

At a panel discussion titled “The New Basics,” designers, developers, and facilities experts tried to work out what will be essential to the office of the future.


From private chefs to meditation rooms, companies have pulled out all the stops when it comes to amenities in the workplace. Whether driven by the battle for talent or employee demands, tech and media organizations in particular continue to vie with one another to provide employee benefits. Cafes, phone booths, and lounges have become commonplace, with nap rooms and fitness centers following suit. But how much amenity is too much amenity? Is there any downside to this trend, and what should we consider to be the new basics of the office?

A group of workplace experts gathered at the Poppin showroom in San Francisco earlier this year to discuss these questions and point to a way forward in office design. Primo Orpilla, whose award-winning firm Studio O+A created some of the first amenity-rich offices in the tech sector, spoke to the origins of the trend. “We really just wanted to create a place where people would come together, collaborate, share ideas and maybe spend a little more time, and that time be more meaningful,” he said. “It was also a great way for the company to show that they cared.”

But now the pendulum might have swung too far, said Alex Spilger, vice president of development and director of sustainability at Cushman & Wakefield: “I see friends that work for these tech companies that say, ‘I want to leave my job but I’m afraid to give up the free massage and the free food,’ and I have to ask them, ‘Are you staying there for the right reasons?’”

Amenities cannot be expected to stand in for a sense of purpose among employees, and companies have to work at fostering that spirit of community. “The spaces have to have meaning to the company and to the employees,” said Verda Alexander, cofounder of Studio O+A. “The idea of superficial amenity spaces really needs to fall by the wayside.”

So what kinds of amenities would not be considered superficial? Sometimes, essential amenities are determined by the culture of the organization, said John Liu, facilities director at Rakuten. At his company, “AV is gargantuan everywhere because that allows [companies] to have video conferencing with every office, to be able to sync up without having employees travel as much.” Hoteling is another such amenity, which Liu finds he has to figure more and more into his headcount projections.

However, workers aren’t just concerned about short-term benefits for themselves or their employers. “People want to work for companies that care,” Spilger said, “so a commitment to sustainability is a core amenity.” The urban (or suburban) context, and the company’s commitments to the community outside also figure heavily in employees’ list of wants. “Those values are part of the new basics,” said Jason Bonnet, vice president of development at Brookfield Properties. “I can get a paycheck from any tech company here, but what are you really doing when I step outside as it relates to improving where I live?” At Brookfield’s new developments in San Francisco, such as 5M and Pier 70, office spaces are situated within a mixed-use context. The developers have built social impact into the plans, offering ground-level activations and donating spaces to non-profits.

Talking about the backlash against tech giants in Seattle and San Francisco, Alexander said she wished offices could integrate “more amenity spaces that are maybe on the ground floor, accessible to the public and that interact with the public. I would love to see more social responsibility, environmental responsibility, and any kind of amenity space that could directly engage the public.”

Spilger summed up the discussion by offering a demographic analysis of where workplace design needs to focus next. “A lot of amenities were driven by millennials—ping pong tables, foosball, free food, happy hours,” he said. “Those millennials are starting families. They no longer need the happy hour or the ping pong table; they want flexibility, autonomy, and purpose behind the work.”

Categories: Workplace Interiors

Continue reading Beyond Amenities, What’s Next for Workplace Design?


A quick refresher on architecture’s continuing battle with earthquakes

Antonio Pacheco

Jul 9, ’19 12:45 PM EST
View of damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake that struck Los Angeles. Image courtesy of FEMA.

View of damage following the 1994 Northridge earthquake that struck Los Angeles. Image courtesy of FEMA.

With earthquakes in the news following a pair of recent tremors in California, it’s important to remember that seismic design is an integral and increasingly complex aspect of building design architects work hard to address. An ever-improving standard, seismic codes not only save lives, but also help to shape the built environment, and in places like California, play a large role in terms of building design, overall. 

Below is a round-up of some of Archinect’s recent earthquake-related coverage.

Changing seismic codes and other earthquake-related issues are currently coming online in many American cities, including in Seattle, where new seismic standards for tall buildings have prompted worries about the safety of certain types of existing buildings. 

Seattle boosts seismic construction standards for new skyscrapers, but older high-rises are biggest concern

In San Francisco, seismic concerns run deeper than meets the eye. There, much of the city’s downtown is built atop landfill areas prone to liquefaction, with many of the city’s tallest buildings designed with obsolete structural designs. 

The town center of Amatrice in Italy was destroyed during a 2016 earthquake. Image courtesy of Leggier il Firenzepost.

Are San Francisco skyscrapers prepared for the next big earthquake?

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has embarked on a long-term plan to retrofit its massive stock of “soft-story” structures, buildings that are constructed without enough shear wall protection and are therefore likely to collapse whenever the “Big One” strikes. 

Twenty-four years after the Northridge quake, Los Angeles still has thousands of ‘soft-story’ buildings to retrofit

As part of a ten year plan, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to allow landlords and tenants of the city’s 15,000 soft-story apartment complexes to share the costs for upgrading the structures. 

In Los Angeles, landlords and tenants will share seismic retrofit costs

Internationally, earthquakes have wrought extensive damage to many regions over the last decade, including in Taiwan, where a 6.4-magnitude earthquake toppled many buildings and killed hundreds of people in 2018.  

Five buildings tilt dangerously after magnitude 6.4 Taiwan quake

In Italy, architect Renzo Piano was called upon by the national government to help develop a plan for reconstruction efforts following a disastrous 2016 earthquake.

Faulty seismic design resulted in the collapse of many buildings during a 2017 earthquake that hit Mexico City and Puebla. Image courtesy of Wikimedia user AntoFran.

In wake of deadly earthquake, Italy’s prime minister calls on Renzo Piano to help reconstruction effort

In Chile, meanwhile, the country’s strict building codes helped reduce earthquake casualties during a sizable 2015 earthquake. 

 How Chile’s strict building codes help reduce the country’s earthquake casualties

A 2017 earthquake that hit Mexico City prompted some soul-searching in California, where thousands of existing concrete frame buildings, like many of those damaged in the Mexico City quake, await retrofitting despite the existence of new, more stringent seismic codes. 

Mexico Earthquake reminds that California architecture is vulnerable, with 1,500 at-risk buildings in LA

This is just a small sample of how the design of seismic codes is being felt around the world’s earthquake-prone regions. Not only can adequate seismic design and proper retrofitting be a matter of life and death during a seismic event, its one area of design where architects can have a profound impact on the health and safety of the people who occupy the buildings they design. 

Stay tuned for more coverage of the changing nature of seismic codes. 

Continue reading A quick refresher on architecture’s continuing battle with earthquakes

Nonresidential construction spending slips modestly in May

Among the 16 nonresidential construction spending categories tracked by the Census Bureau, five experienced increases in monthly spending.

JULY 01, 2019 |

According to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published today, national nonresidential construction spending declined 0.9% in May, totaling $788.5 billion on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis and a 4.4% increase compared to the same time last year. While total public and private nonresidential spending declined 0.9% since April, public spending was up 11.2% and private spending was down 0.1% year over year.

Among the 16 nonresidential construction spending categories tracked by the Census Bureau, five experienced increases in monthly spending, including transportation (4%), communication (1.3%) and public safety (1.2%). Religious (-5.5%), commercial (-3.3%) and highway and street (-3.4%) experienced the largest monthly decreases, although highway and street spending remained up 17.1% compared to May 2018. Total construction spending is down 2.3% compared to the same time last year, and residential spending is down sharply.

“Private construction spending has been slipping for several months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Commercial construction spending decreased nearly 14% during the past year, which represents a stark reversal from previous trends when America’s consumer-spending-led expansion produced substantial demand for commercial construction. That said, commercial spending is up 102% compared to May 2010. Other private construction categories such as office and lodging have also been weak as rising construction and capital costs render pro formas more problematic. There are also growing concerns regarding overbuilding in certain segments/markets.

“What was different about today’s release was the decline in public construction spending,” said Basu. “While the drop was reasonably small on a monthly basis, it stands in stark contrast to the preexisting trend. With the economic expansion entering its record 11th year, state and local government finances are generally in good shape, leaving more money to spend on infrastructure. Based on broad economic dynamics and fiscal considerations, there is little reason to believe that the dip in May portends a slowdown in infrastructure spending during the months ahead.”






Continue reading Nonresidential construction spending slips modestly in May

Living in a cloud: What nanotech means for architecture and the built environment

Could there come a time when buildings will become less about bricks and mortar and feel more like mists or fogs?

JULY 02, 2019 |

Last month, I wrote about how automation and AI are dramatically changing all four fundamental relationships between buildings and machines. For example, nanotechnology, which manipulates individual atoms and molecules to assemble things, could make the modernist metaphor of a “machine for living in” into reality, since the building would actually be composed of many tiny machines.

In fact, that’s not quite accurate. The definition of “machine” is “an apparatus using or applying mechanical power and having several parts, each with a definite function and together performing a particular task.” 

So machines are made of distinct parts, cobbled together to fulfill a function. They are characterized by their composition, as assemblages of singular bits and pieces in which the whole is greater than the sum.


SEE ALSO: Assessing AI’s impact on the AEC profession and the built environment


But nanotech will completely change this. When entire buildings can be shaped from microscopic components, the visible distinction between the individual parts will evaporate. A structure built from invisible machines will not appear to be a machine at all, since it no longer will be perceived as an assembly of parts. An edifice made of congealed cybernetic butter will look to be all whole, no parts. The very concept of a “building” could become meaningless, since it will no longer be “built” in any traditional way. 

Remember “Terminator 2”? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 is a machine: steel and servos wrapped in human skin. Robert Patrick’s T-1000 is made of liquid metal (“mimetic polyalloy”). He’s like sentient mercury, morphing into any shape he needs. A nanotech building (“nanotecture”?) would make conventional structures seem like Robby the Robot (of “Forbidden Planet” fame).

Buttery buildings could change everything we think and know about architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright felt that architectural form should stem from the inherent “nature” of its materials: “Each material speaks a language of its own.” In his mind, the proportions, heft, and texture of brick logically translated into structures such as the Robie House, which extends horizontally and hugs the land. But when the constituent parts of a building are too small to be seen with the naked eye, the relationships between form and materials will change. What is the “language” of a nanobot?

Because the character of a building could vary upon command—hard and opaque one minute, soft and transparent the next—the fabric of buildings could become fluid, fluctuating states from solid to liquid to gas and back. The notion of truth in materials will become irrelevant. In fact, the word material could go away. When the basic building blocks of architecture have no strict definition, structure and substance could separate. Matter may not matter.

Could there come a time when buildings will become less about bricks and mortar and feel more like mists or fogs, vaguely enveloping space in ways we can barely picture now? What will it be like to live in a cloud?

Lance Hosey, FAIA, LEED Fellow, is a Design Director with Gensler. His book, The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design, has been an Amazon #1 bestseller in the Sustainability & Green Design category.

Continue reading Living in a cloud: What nanotech means for architecture and the built environment

2020 Design Trends: Color, Materials + Finish

08/30/2018 Carolyn Ames Noble

The year 2020 all at once seems so futuristic and yet just around the corner. As we approach the next decade in design, we look to both the future and the past to conceive new products and methods. 

To disseminate color, material, and finishes for 2019 and 2020, three key themes were defined: the engineered environment, organic emotion and colorful collaboration. From these three leading macro themes, several indicators of a staying trend emerged. As part of this quest, design leaders throughout the interiors product category space weighed in on the direction.

Throughout the three trend stories, the pursuit to preserve nature is omnipresent.

Engineered Environment

In the first trend, engineered environment, nature itself is seemingly created or enhanced from the technological lab and placed back into earth. Science becomes symbiotic with design. Sustainability is a straightforward baseline to any good design solution. Designers incorporate science and new methodologies to create solutions that are long-lasting and perseverant.

In that vein, we have seen much material attention paid to recycled plastics and new composites. Ecobirdy created a children’s furniture line of 100-percent recycled plastics from used and discarded toys. Further, it has even penned a children’s storybook based on its practice as an early introduction to the circular economy. Terrazzo will continue to be an important material of color and pattern forward experimentation. We will also see a rise of new and interesting resins made, such as Laurent Peacock’s Piper, which features peppercorns or Himalayan salt.

NeoCon 2019 Preview: Okamura’s New Conference Seating Gets Back to Basics

Read More

Photography by Laurent Peacock

Wood is thoughtfully transformed. Yael Reboh was inspired by layered combinations and the exploration of merging existing materials to form a new one with its own set of characteristics and properties. Her Primavera armchair, a 2018 Lexus Design Award finalist, is exemplary. Says Reboh: “I was fascinated by the aesthetic that the layered combination created, the versatile expressions achieved from each material, like soft versus hard, cracking versus incomplete, flexible versus stable.” ​ Genisher

The color story imitates and engineers nature. Finishes are tactile and speculative, from highly lustrous to innate, unvarnished surfaces. Blue is bright and saturated, together with a true yellow set against taupe, forest green and deep teal, highlighted by pure white and soft petal pink.

Photography by Nimrod

Organic Emotion

In our second trend story of organic emotion, nature is rooted and still and empathy is profound. Similar to the design community’s embrace of sustainability in the early 2000s, health and wellness finds a central place of meaningful planning. Smart or wearable technology is human-centered and beautifully designed. Water conversation is paramount. The immersion into nature is physiological.

Clean water filtration becomes both experiential and approachable in alluring vessels. Pratik Ghosh uses live plants and fauna to filtrate water in Drop-by-Drop.

Megan McClendon is the commercial design leader at Formica Corporation, and describes an intersection of humanity and technology. “Digital dominance is challenged by embracing sound, sight, touch and taste,” McClendon explains. “Immersive building environments focus on our primal needs by mimicking our circadian rhythms, improving the air we breathe and cocooning us in sensorial comfort. There is a dreamy quality, a softness and introspective feel that allows us to put aside busy thoughts and access our emotions.”

Biophilia in Design

Biophilia is the human’s intrinsic need for interaction with nature and we nurture ourselves.

Jayson Simeon, Global design leader, Moen and The House of Rohl, considers what he sees as “macro trends, wellness and biophilia, being influencers promoting revitalization through organic elements that are crafted, not molded.”

Photography by Stylus Inc.

“Bath spaces, in particular are transforming into microcosmic destinations in the home – a space of solace, reflection and rejuvenation as opposed to the hallmark catalyst of your daily routine,” Simeon says. “In the bath, we are seeing new materials like volcanic limestone and others that are naturally warmer to the touch than traditional enameled tub or sink surfaces, making the bath experience more relaxing right from the start, while using less hot water to heat and maintain bath temperatures.”

Benjamin Pardo, Knoll design director, describes how commercial office furnishings featuring natural soft touch materials, including veneer and cork, will continue to be popular for open plan and private office spaces.

Colors in this palette include distilled off-white, khaki and jute brown, and infused with sundrenched gold, grayed blue-violet and jade green. Metamerism, the apparent shift in color, will be embraced as an authentic design quality. Finishes appear cloudlike, layered and interesting, streaked with metallic threads against medium-toned wood grain.


Positive change is on the horizon in the third and final color forward collaboration. More than an age categorization, Generation Z is the new multicultural face of America. As they enter the consumer space, they bring a dynamic and inherently inclusive mindset, which largely influences the third trend story and its new collaborative spirit. The women’s movement celebrates 100 years of voting in the United States. The global viewpoint is also at play as the new middle class economies in China and India continue emergence.

Fatigued from the noise of the past several years, design seeks to construct cadence out of the chaos.  Art Deco-like colors and forms were on full display at the 2018 Salone de Milano. When Art Deco originated in 1925 Paris, it was reactionary to what was seen as elitist and overly ornate design. Art Deco’s clean lines were relatable, able to be mass-produced and accessible to all. There is a striking commonality to today’s reintroduction.

Geometry and synchronicity are on full display in this trend. At long last, commercial carpet design will break out of the square. Shaw Contract partnered with Form Us with Love and launched Inside Shapes at Neocon 2018. Explains Reesie Duncan, vice president of global design at Shaw Contract: “Working with Form Us with Love has been a rewarding, highly collaborative process. We began with a lengthy design-thinking exercise to look at the way flooring is installed, how different product surfaces come together and how designers express a spatial narrative with flooring. We were constantly asking, ‘How do we change this? How might we do things differently?’ It was a challenge we were all inspired to pursue together, and having a design partner who did not come from a flooring background was especially exciting as it brought new perspective to the table.” Duncan also mentioned an early mantra for the design development: “Unique shapes working together collaboratively.”

Upcoming Color Palettes

Of color, Emily Kantz, interior designer at Sherwin-Williams, projects the use of Inventive Orange SW 6633, Seawashed Glass SW 9034 and Bora Bora Shore SW 9045. “Inspired by the global community, these colors are bold, uninhibited, optimistic and carefree. The colors are ageless, have a good dose of humor and playfulness and are not overly complicated.” Kantz says of the colors, together with finishes “pairing great with the lighter blond wood tones and matte black. Look for these colors in statement walls, fabrics, furniture and interior accessories.”

Rounding out the color palette, we’ve added bold red, pastel rose and inky indigo. Color and finish work in harmony with pattern, which is graphic and orderly.

Photography by Shaw Contract and Form Us with Love

In 2019 and 2020, there is a shift. Designers have the platform to create meaningful change through a multi-pronged approach of sustainable, resilient and WELL project practices. We look forward to this near and optimistic future – seeing forecasted color, material and finish trends unfold and evolve.

Carolyn Ames Noble, ASID, CMG, is an interior design leader and color + materials enthusiast. She brings an expert assessment through extensive experience in interior design, color marketing and industry trend research.

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Modular construction can deliver projects 50% faster

A new McKinsey report says factory-built could be next big shift in the industry.

JUNE 26, 2019 |
Modular construction can deliver projects 50% faster

Modular carries a potential cost savings of up to 20%, but there is a risk of up to a 10% loss if delivery or material costs spike, the report says.

Modular construction can deliver projects 20% to 50% faster than traditional methods and drastically reshape how buildings are delivered, according to a new report from McKinsey & Co.

Modular carries a potential cost savings of up to 20%, but there is a risk of up to a 10% loss if delivery or material costs spike, the report says. The global market is primed for the sweeping change that factory-built construction offers.  

To realize all of modular’s benefits, the building team must choose the right design and right materials as well as overcome challenges in design, manufacturing, technology, logistics and assembly; and take advantage of locations where they can achieve scale and repetition. Public sector owners and regulatory agencies are well positioned to drive the industry toward modular. 

Up to now, prefabricated housing has achieved a sustainable foothold in only a few places, including Japan and Scandinavia, the report adds. That may change as labor shortages become more acute and the industry adopts new, lighter-weight materials and digital technologies that enhance design capabilities and variability, improve precision and productivity in manufacturing, and facilitate logistics.



Continue reading Modular construction can deliver projects 50% faster

Expand Your Perspective At Platform

Platform: A Retreat for Design Visionaries, September 18-20, 2019 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, will spark your curiosity and challenge your perspective by providing the opportunity to break away from your daily routine and engage with fellow leaders in the design profession. Specifically designed for the principals, partners, and owners (PPOs) of design firms, Platform convenes the best of the best, the true visionaries of the design community, for a summit that provides an arena for relationship building, interaction, and idea sharing that moves the entire industry forward as a united community. Platform is a catalyst for innovation and collaboration, and explores leadership through the viewpoints of influencers in business, technology, entrepreneurship, public affairs, and more, providing a forum for conversation about the future of design.

SEPTEMBER 18-20, 2019

Platform is intended for design principals, partners, and owners – those in decision making and influential positions within their organizations. To register to attend Platform, you must have an access code. If you do not have an access code, please apply here.



A highly curated roster of speakers will bring fresh perspectives in interactive ways.

Singer | Beatboxer
Songwriter | Musician

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Author, “Everybody Lies”
Former Google Data Scientist
The New York Times Opinion Writer


When you attend Platform in San Diego, you’ll be among fellow visionaries and design industry thought leaders, building the relationships necessary to move a united design industry forward. Your curated experience will provide moments of meaningful engagement with peers and speakers, while unique dining events and intentional small group forums will encourage thought provoking discussions.

“Platform gave me a rare opportunity – a focused moment to reenergize with other leaders in the design industry, to reflect on my role as a designer, and to forge new relationships and partnerships to last beyond our time together.”

–Elizabeth Von Lehe, Allied ASID, Design + Brand Strategy Principal, HDR

“Platform was a breath of fresh inspiration. It was truly a retreat in that it allowed me to reset my creative energies, but it was also a phenomenal opportunity to connect with top talent and top thinkers. I learned a great deal about the big ideas impacting design today and made fabulous connections that I hope to maintain throughout my career.”

–John Cialone, ASID, NCIDQ | Design Director, Vice President, and Partner, Tom Stringer Design Partners


The Schedule  →

Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director
Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director
Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director


Entice your curiosity and be exposed to the topics that will shape the future of your profession. Be ahead of what’s next and challenge yourself to take what you learn to your practice.



Experience the rolling hills and beautiful seashore of San Diego, home to some of the best weather in the United States. Your home in San Diego will be the spectacular Rancho Bernardo Inn, a destination that will provide memorable experiences for you and your fellow Platform attendees. A place to play, relax, unwind, reconnect, and find a little time for yourself, every element, experience, and detail has been calculated to perfection at the warm and welcoming Rancho Bernardo Inn.







Venue + Travel →









Benjamin Moore=
Signature Kitchen Suite

Media Sponsor


David Levo
Principal and Board Director, Perkins Eastman

Ken Wilson, ASID, AIA
Design Principal, Perkins+Will

Patty Dominguez
Vice President, Architect and Design Sales, Cosentino

Zach Elkin
General Manager and Senior Director, Signature Kitchen Suite

Christine Handy
Director, Architect and Designer Segment, Benjamin Moore & Co.

A.J. Paron-Wildes, Allied ASID, LEED AP ID+C, WELL AP
National Architectural and Design Manager, Allsteel

Rachelle Schoessler Lynn, FASID, LEED Fellow
Senior Associate, MSR Design 

  • When

  • September 18, 2019 – September 20, 2019
  • Add to CalendarAdd to Calendar
  • Where

  • Rancho Bernardo Inn
    17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr
    San Diego, CA 92128
  • Presented By

  • ASID Events
  • Contact UsContact Us
Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director
Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director

Tamie Glass, ASID
Interior Design Program Director


Continue reading Expand Your Perspective At Platform

Mario Romano Defies the Rules of Architecture by Following Nature’s Blueprints

The voluptuous form of the Preston house was inspired by calligraphy and crashing waves. Photography by Mario Romano.

Complex and beautiful geometries take on sculptural form in the hands of Mario Romano. His particular brand of poetry is rooted in the language of construction. Specializing in digital fabrication yet heavily inspired by nature, Romano’s Santa Monica, California, art/design studio has pioneered architectural systems that combine parametric modeling software with CNC machining to create facades that undulate like ocean waves or emulate bird feathers.

Enter the Best of Year Awards by September 20

His latest venture is M.R. Walls, large-scale interior surfaces developed in collaboration with Corian. Panels are carved with intricate and endlessly variable gradient patterns informed by a giraffe’s spots, wind-blown reeds, and other earthly touchstones. These monolithic pieces bond seamlessly and are impervious to water, bacteria, and mold. Better yet, walls can be fabricated locally from digital files, reducing lead times and transportation costs. Blending elaborate organic motifs and cutting-edge technology, Romano’s work demonstrates that the wonder of the natural world never goes out of style.

Interior Design: Your houses are known for their wild exterior shapes. Where do your ideas come from?

Mario Romano: They start from sketches and a very abstract inspiration. Then I flesh out the concept, working from the outside in. I think about creating a sculptural object that just happens to be habitable. A straight-up and boxlike structure can feel domineering, whereas organic shapes are more becoming, feminine, approachable, and inviting.

Read more: Dinosaur Designs Duo Renders Sculptural Accessories in Bold, Full-Spectrum Colors

A spiral staircase twirls through the Morningside house, in Venice, California. Photography by Dan Arnold.

ID: How does technology affect the surfaces you create?

MR: Digital fabrication is an emergent discipline. I explore the bridge between design concept and manifestation: How do you realize a computational design in the physical world and ensure the result is reliable, functional, and priced accessibly? CNC machines are the core route, currently.

ID: What’s your process for designing and building?

MR: The digitally created house can be realized almost at the click of a button. Every piece is labeled, etched, marked, and thought out, and then gets produced on a machine. The pieces fit together puzzle-like using an assembly map, which renders the construction of these complex structures user-friendly. All the houses I designed were built by local carpenters and framers utilizing open-source construction.

The San Vicente house in Santa Monica, California, features a textured Corian facade. Photography by Jason Speth.


ID: That seems at once extraordinarily complicated and very straightforward.

MR: There’s something beautiful about organized complexity that attracts us to incredible landmarks—whether a constellation, the Grand Canyon, or the way a tree grows. We used to think that nature was random and chaotic; now we know it’s driven by an incredible logic—one we can experience but are only just beginning to understand.

ID: Nature is obviously a big source of inspiration for you.

MR: I think it is for everyone. That’s where wonder comes from. It could be the color of someone’s eyes or the shape of a face or a body that gives us that first charge of attraction. Beauty is of incredible value; we’re driven by it, but it’s often underappreciated.

Giraffe-patterned solid surfacing from Romano’s M.R. Walls collection for Corian dresses every surface of his own master bathroom. Photography by Jason Speth.

ID: What sparked M.R. Walls?

MR: I wanted to expand the design language of the wall surface. The only existing option was tile: the same shape repeated, with grout lines dictated by that form. You’re trapped by the shape of this one mass-produced object. In contrast, with M.R. Walls, unique pieces fit together to create an uninterrupted design experience that extends over a large area. People want something they haven’t seen before, that evokes mystery and intrigue. When you see a large-scale object, you wonder how it was created. No one thinks that when they see tile. This is what attracts people to marble slabs: They want a continuous slice of nature on the wall. Bookmatching stone is like putting the mountain back together—inside the house.

ID: What led to collaborating with Corian?

MR: Practice, experimentation, testing, and research. Ultimately, we developed a patent-pending software platform linked with low-level robotics; assembly is embedded into the design so there’s only one way to install the product. We then asked which material could perform the role. I also wanted to make the product accessible and affordable. With Corian solid surface, I could bond pieces to make one monolithic slab. Corian is widely available, has been around for about 50 years, and has been thoroughly tested.

The Wave house, located in Venice, California, is dressed in rippling CNC-cut aluminum and has a garage door composed of stained cedar slats. Photography by Dan Arnold.

ID: How did you decide which designs to put in the M.R. Walls collection?

MR: We’re focused on applying mass variation. The Honey wall, for example, is based on the Voronoi diagram, the formula for a giraffe pattern. It’s an interesting sequence of logic found throughout nature that can yield incredible and unlimited variation—you never get the same pattern twice. The design is customizable without being super-expensive or hard to install.

ID: What’s your own family home like?

MR: The second-story flooring is white Corian textured to resemble wood grain—a unique interior element. Architecturally, I oriented the rooms to establish visual connectivity, both vertically and horizontally, between spaces. There’s separation, which is important, but without isolation: At home, we want to be connected to other people.

The rear of the Wave house wraps around a lap pool; feathers inspired the panels’ forms. Photography by Mario Romano.

> See more from the Interior Design Summer Homes 2019 issue

Continue reading Mario Romano Defies the Rules of Architecture by Following Nature’s Blueprints

Sound At Work: Research Studies On Office Acoustics

When office noise levels do not align with preferences and
expectations, negative moods can result and stress can build.
Both negative moods and stress have been tied to degraded
professional performance and interactions with others. Although
professional acousticians are regularly hired to optimize the
soundscapes of office workplaces, this resource is for interior
designers to keep up with relevant research studies to apply
in their broader practices. At-work sound-related experiences
are often a hot topic for discussion, particularly among office
users who are a little—or a lot—“concerned” about this aspect
of workplace design.

Continue reading Sound At Work: Research Studies On Office Acoustics

Designing with value in mind

Everyone wants to cut costs, but not at the expense of the project’s functionality.

JUNE 27, 2019 |

Architects, engineers and other design professionals strive to build strong reputations in their respected fields. To prove their competence, they must maximize their given budgets while also making sure to be efficient and detailed in their work. Everyone wants to cut costs, but not at the expense of the project’s functionality. How do you create a high-quality product that stays within budget? Two words: Value Engineering.

This time-tested process is focused on improving the value of a product by substituting low-cost options without sacrificing the quality of work. Value engineering is a win-win for all parties involved. By meeting an owner’s performance standards with money-saving solutions, design professionals deliver incredible value to their clients and boost their reputations.

We’re here to help ease the process for you. Here are six steps to value engineering:

Step 1: Identify the material makeup of a project. Ask yourself: What is this?

Step 2: Analyze the functions of those elements. Ask yourself: What does this do?

Step 3: Develop alternative solutions for delivering those functions. Ask yourself: What else could do this?

Step 4: Assess the alternative solutions. Ask yourself: Can this still deliver the experience the owner demands?

Step 5: Allocate costs to the alternative solutions. Ask yourself: How much will this cost?

Step 6: Develop the alternatives with the highest likelihood of success. Ask yourself: What will do the best job for the longest time?

A project owner’s expectations must be the highest priority when completing any project. No amount of money, work or time saved will be sufficient enough if a project owner’s needs are not fully met. There could be several different motivations for completing a project, and the design professional must have a solid understanding of these components before the project even begins. But if designers can meet the owner’s objectives while saving money, they are well on their way to building a name for themselves. For more information on Value Engineering, check out our eBook.

Rory Woolsey has worked in Management and Engineering in the construction industry for 40 years. He started as a construction laborer and superintendent and has experience in just about every construction profession from designer to estimator to project manager to field engineer and, most recently, a senior owner’s representative for many large public agencies. For 20 years he was the lead estimator and president of The Wool-Zee Company, Inc. working for architects, engineers and facility managers to accurately budget their construction projects at all stages of design. Rory has earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil/ Structural Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in construction project management.

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