Tag Archives: Innovation

Dutch Couple Moves Into The First 3D-Printed Concrete House In The Netherlands

Back on the 30th of April, a Dutch couple received the keys to the first Dutch 3D-printed concrete home. The house, located in Eindhoven, is a single-story home with a floor area of 94 square meters, and is not merely a display of advanced 3D printing technology – it complies with all of the strict building requirements of The Netherlands. According to Project Milestone, this home is just first of five 3D-printed homes planned to built, with each new one becoming more complex than the one before.

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Top 5 Most Impressive Vertical Gardens of the World

In an era where major cities are becoming increasingly packed with residential and commercial development in an effort to accommodate a rapidly increasingly population, innovation and creativity is more necessary than ever to introduce greenery in limited space. An ever popular application for introducing greenery into urban environments is the vertical garden.


The benefits of vertical garden greenery include cleaner air, greater happiness and more beautiful urban landscapes. Research suggests that due to our longing for nature, the ability to enjoy natural beauty in an urban environment can increase productivity, lower mental distress and aid residents in achieving higher success in exercise activity.

Top 5 Impressive Vertical Gardens

There are some great examples of innovative vertical gardens developed to introduce natural beauty in limited space. We have listed 5 of our favourite examples of impressive and innovative vertical gardens around the world.

Tree House (Singapore)

Tree House (Singapore)

A 24-storey skyscraper in Singapore’s district 23 is home to 2,289 square metres of vertical garden. This development also features heat reducing windows and has been classified as the largest vertical garden in the world. This vertical garden was designed to reduce the district’s carbon footprint and is expected to reduce energy spend by 15-30%. (Source: Inhabitat)

Central Park (Sydney)

Central Park (Sydney)

Comprised of 120,000 native Australian plants and spread over 1,200 square metres, the Central Park building vertical garden in Sydney, Australia was designed to be a beautiful addition to the city and park below. (Source: The Urban Developer)

Rubens Hotel (London)

Rubens Hotel (London)

In the middle of the bustling London streetscape is 350 square metre vertical garden that sits proudly on the Rubens Hotel building. The purpose of this design was both a self-watering aesthetic addition to the city and an air-cleaning and flood mitigation initiative. (Source: Rubens Hotel)

The Currents (Quebec)

The Currents (Quebec)

The vertical garden on the interior of The Currents building in Quebec covers 200 square metres over 15 storeys and is entirely hydroponic, filtering the air for the entire skyscraper. The garden took 5 months to build and is classified as the largest indoor vertical garden in the world. The panelling system the garden is mounted on is also comprised of recycled materials. (Source: Inhabitat)

CaixaForum (Madrid)

CaixaForum (Madrid)

CaixaForum is an 1899 power station refurbished and turned into an art gallery with a 600 square metre vertical garden art installation designed by Patrick Blanc. This piece is comprised of 15,000 hearty, heat and cold resistant plants and is open for the public to touch and feel in the heart of Madrid’s cultural district. (Source: Greenroofs)

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Making The Leap To IPD

By Richard L. Peck | June 3, 2019

When owners ask a project team to get on board with integrated project delivery (IPD), putting profits at-risk and adopting costly technologies like building information modeling (BIM), all while forsaking professional autonomy in favor of collaboration, the challenge is obvious. Nevertheless, recent years have indeed seen growing numbers of healthcare projects adopting IPD in some form, with already impressive results in time and money saved, errors avoided, and profits made. 

To be sure, IPD is not for everyone, says attorney Lisa Dal Gallo, whose firm Hanson Bridgett LLC (San Francisco), has crafted some 150 multiparty IPD contracts since 2008. “The owner is the leader in the IPD world. If the owner is not design and construction-savvy and prepared to be very involved in the day-to-day process, IPD may not be the best fit for them,” she says.

“Design-build, in which the owner contracts with the designer-builder entity who oversees the project rather than participating in the contract, may be a better collaborative choice.”

Dal Gallo adds that companies embarking on IPD also need to make sure they select the right individuals, including general contractors, architects, and engineers, for the team. “Some professionals are simply not collaborative, it’s just not in their makeup,” she says. “IPD doesn’t work for those individuals, either.”

While there are various flavors of IPD, with varying approaches to compensation, risk-sharing, and decision-making, the key, for the owner, is to convince design and construction partners to sign on to a single contract holding their profits at-risk for budget overages or performance shortfalls and to share in rewards for savings and efficiencies achieved, throughout the life of the project.

So what does it take to make such a leap from the traditional design-bid-build relationship to IPD? One case study sheds light on the process.

Inside story

For Chicago- and Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health—the ninth largest not-for-profit healthcare system in the United States, with 28 hospitals and more than 500 additional care sites—an initial impetus to eliminate waste inherent in the design and construction industry coincided with the Great Recession of 2008.

“After that played out, we were still relatively well-positioned to start capital projects,” says Scott Nelson, system vice president of planning, design and construction for Advocate, “so we got a lot of attention with our plans.”

Those plans included moving in the direction of IPD. Nelson said the healthcare system interviewed prospective design and construction partners and asked them about their stance on IPD. “There was some reluctance on the part of construction about going forward” he says.

Nevertheless, in 2011 Advocate initiated three large-scale projects across the Chicagoland area in a modified IPD approach under separate traditional owner/architect and owner/contractor master agreements rather than a single multiparty agreement. As the projects progressed and were completed, Nelson says Advocate saw varying levels of success among all three teams. “But in every case we saw better outcomes in terms of schedule, budget savings, quality, and construction site safety than we had in projects of similar scale and complexity in the past,” he says.

Building on this success, in 2016, Advocate decided to move toward full IPD, engaging many of the general contractors, architects and engineers already in its Partner Program to participate in the review and development process. “Our intent was to obtain buy-in to the agreement so we weren’t negotiating the structure and terms on every individual project going forward,” Nelson says. The master IPD agreement put all parties at full profit risk, but with savings incentives that would potentially enhance their bottom lines.

The multiparty contract, prepared by Dal Gallo, went into effect in 2016 and was first executed on several ambulatory facility projects by Advocate’s ambulatory collaborative team, stripping out all profit and putting everyone at risk until target cost value had been achieved—in this case, a savings of 3 to 5 percent below the target (allowable) cost.

“The full-risk nature of the agreement created quite a bit of discomfort at first,” says Nelson. “It was quite a leap.” But, by  the end of 2017,  cost savings attained had already hit 14 percent below target cost, along with a 30 percent reduction in construction time and preventable change orders reduced to 0.27 percent of construction cost. By this time, the partners were sharing 50 percent of the savings from the shared savings threshold (the point at which savings were agreed to be shared), providing an obvious enhancement of their margins.

Nelson says the resulting budgetary freedom due to the savings achieved allowed Advocate Aurora Health’s design and construction partners to innovate. For example, the team implemented more modular construction, moving from a construction platform to a manufacturing platform for pre-fabricated mechanical racks, panelized wall systems, exterior cladding, and full exam room and toilet room pods, ready to plug in efficiently when the time came.

Making it work

The ongoing process for achieving all this relied upon that Lean mainstay, the Big Room, where all nine of the IPD contract signatories on the ambulatory team would convene regularly during project construction to review progress on all ambulatory projects underway, exchange lessons learned, and evaluate attempted innovations—as well as brainstorm solutions to pressing problems.

For example, Nelson says bad winter weather was interfering with some of the interior work on a particular project, so the design team devised a prefabricated insulated exterior wall panel that would be rapidly erected, allowing them to condition the interior space where the work needed to be done. The team also devised a modular exam room pod, manufactured off-site, which could be readily installed while other construction was underway, improving quality and saving a great deal of time.

The multiparty contract partners also collaborated on using the same technological platform for BIM. “This was a requirement for all of them, as part of their participation,” Nelson notes, adding that in the future he sees the organization moving beyond BIM into augmented and virtual reality during design development, especially for non-ambulatory projects. “It’s more suitable for these big projects because they are one-offs, and augmented reality and virtual reality can be of great help in design development.”

With ambulatory projects, on the other hand, Advocate has
developed enough of a template over time to simplify design development, so that
the partners know basically what to expect from project to project. “We’ve been
able to set a standard for the design overall, and then leverage that for
expanded use of prefabrication and modular,” he says.

With the Advocate Aurora Health ambulatory team, Nelson views the current multiparty IPD master agreement as one that will continue in perpetuity, although formally requiring it to be reviewed and renewed every five years. “We envision the partners staying on indefinitely, as long as the demand for ambulatory facilities holds out and the team continues to perform,” he says.

Dal Gallo maintains that five-year review should be required of all IPD master contracts, partly because the laws governing design and construction change but also to improve the documents by incorporating lessons learned. A major benefit of the master IPD is that it avoids the necessity of negotiating and drafting the downstream risk/reward subcontracts and consulting agreements after the owner, architect, and contractor have already executed the tri-party IPD agreement.

Similarly, the issues of insurance, liability, indemnity, and compensation are worked out upfront with the IPD master agreement, leaving only the project-specific business terms to be negotiated, which saves upfront negotiation time and legal expenditures.

The IPD approach, with its shared risk and reward among the parties, is probably most suitable for facility owners that are developing several projects or large, complicated projects sponsored by private owners, says Dal Gallo. Public agencies, banks, and other financiers can be put off by the risk that the owner will continue to pay direct costs (without profit) if the project exceeds the target cost, exhausting all the profit placed at risk.

As for the participants, it’s an adventure: “Once in it,” she says, “everyone succeeds or fails together.”  

Richard L. Peck is a freelance writer based in Lakewood, Ohio. He can be reached at peck.richard117@gmail.com.               

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Preview the Standout Designs at ICFF 2019

The 2019 edition of ICFF is just around the corner. From Sunday, May 19 to Tuesday, May 21, ICFF will be open exclusively to trade professionals. New York City’s Javits Convention Center will host products by more than 900 exhibitors from over 60 countries in the high-end interiors space. With so much to see, Interior Design has selected a few standouts to preview ahead of the show. See 10 of them below.

Aboutwater by Boffi and Fantini

AK/25 fixture by Paik Sun Kim for Aboutwater by Boffi and Fantini. Booth 2163. Photography courtesy of Boffi and Fantini.


Boffi and Fantini‘s AK/25 fixture stands out for both its origami-inspired design and its innovation in the water-flow process.


Joy bar chair by Janine Hulsker for arianeSké. Booth 1827. Photography courtesy of arianeské. 


Dutch seating designer and manufacturer arianeSké began with a straightforward mission: to bring comfort back to high-end seating. The polished wooden backing of the Joy bar chair gives it a distinguished look.

Read more: Preview the Manhattan and Brooklyn Editions of WantedDesign


Astra lounge chair by Cory Grosser for Bernhardt. Booths 1339 and 1325. Photography courtesy of Bernhardt.


Leave it to Cory Grosser to blend the best of precision—through geometric details and ease—in a curved silhouette. Grosser’s design of the Astra lounge chair for Bernhardt is suited to a variety of aesthetically different spaces.

 Brendan Ravenhill

Beam pendant from Brendan Ravenhill. Booth 857. Photography courtesy of Brendan Ravenhill.


Brendan Ravenhill‘s Beam light fixture responds to the efficiency and casting power of LED lighting with style. Beam makes use of bounced and refracted light to create a soft glow, in a strong linear silhouette.

Ceramics of Italy 

The Room collection by Imola Ceramica for Ceramics of Italy. Booths 2229-2325. Photography courtesy of Ceramics of Italy.


A distinguished collection of porcelain slabs, The Room collection by Imola Ceramica for Ceramics of Italy exudes drama and luxury. The four available patterns are inspired by exquisite marbles from three continents, with suitable applications ranging from flooring to walls and custom countertops. 


Sensate Touchless Kitchen Faucet with Kohler Konnect. Booth 2239. Photography courtesy of Kohler. 


A sleek, no-contact faucet is the stuff of culinary enthusiasts’ dreams. Kohler Konnect immerses users in experiential luxury, with the best of good design and intelligent technology.


Orizon mirror by Ocrúm. Booth 1062. Photography courtesy of Ocrúm.


The Orizon mirror, part of Brooklyn-based design studio Ocrúm‘s debut collection, toes the line between art and functional decor. The rippled surface is evocative of a serene sea, and blends into a smooth colored sky.

Ross Gardam

Nebulae chandelier by Ross Gardam. Booth 1763. Photography by Ross Gardam. Photography © Hadyn Cattach.


Ross Gardam brings a redesigned version of his Nebulae chandelier to his eponymous design studio’s ICFF booth. The horizontal configuration is a new aspect of the chandelier’s design, and the uniquely-layered glass shows a highly original exploration of light’s diffusion.

Studio Henk

Co lounge chairs; 2.5 seat sofa (left) and single seat armchair (right) by Studio Henk. Booth 1827. Photography by Studio Henk.


The finishes of every piece offered by Studio Henk are fully customizable. The functional aesthetic of the Co lounge chair epitomizes modernism and, every detail, from the Kvadrat upholstery to the stain of the wood accents, can be changed to fit the mood of the space it’ll go into.


Balance pendant by SkLO. Booth 957. Photography courtesy of SkLO.


The Balance pendant is emblematic of SkLO‘s emphasis on beauty and originality. The pendant’s soft curve and inherent asymmetry creates visual interest.

Read more: 2019 NYCxDESIGN Full Coverage 

Continue reading Preview the Standout Designs at ICFF 2019

SANDOW to Debut Innovation Lab at NeoCon

NeoCon 2019 is right around the corner. In just under two weeks, the annual trade show opens its doors for another three days of talks by inspiring keynote speakers, previews of the most innovative new products, and endless opportunities to network with colleagues and industry friends. The gargantuan event finds a welcome home in Chicago’s theMART (f.k.a. the Merchandise Mart), the world’s largest commercial building and design center.

This year, SANDOW, Interior Design’s parent company, will unveil an entirely new space for attendees to explore. Dubbed the SANDOW Innovation Lab, this almost 4,000-square-foot area sits on the sixth floor of theMART (Suite 624) and houses unique opportunities for several of the brands in the company’s portfolio to connect with the design community. The SANDOW Innovation Lab will open on June 10.

“This space is raw and colorful,” said Abby Leopold, the SANDOW Innovation Lab’s project manager and lead creator at Curate. “Bringing the Innovation Lab to life expertly married Curate’s mission and SANDOW’s vision.”

The SANDOW Innovation Lab is primed to host several compelling programming events. The yearly Interior Design NeoCon roundtables, hosted by Editor in Chief Cindy Allen, will take place in the Lab’s Innovation room. This year’s roundtable topics will include conversations on current workplace and health and wellness sector trends.

There will also be three ThinkLab-hosted workshops that prepare designer and manufacturer attendees to face many of the dynamic changes happening in today’s contract sector. Over the course of three days, attendees will have an opportunity to learn how to improve the contract furniture buying process, recognize and respond to major sector trends, and how to improve the client experience.

Finally, Material ConneXion invites designers to learn more about the brave new world of emerging architectural materials with Dr. Andrew Dent, the company’s executive vice president of research. This lecture will take place on Monday, June 10 in Material ConneXion’s Lab space. Attendees are welcome to explore on-trend materials and colors using an X-Rite Virtual Light Booth machine.

“This is the first time SANDOW has had the opportunity to activate several of our brands in the same space during NeoCon,” said Kathryn Kerns, executive director of strategic initiatives at SANDOW. “From Material ConneXion’s first-ever pop-up library, to Interior Design’s notable roundtables and ThinkLab’s unique workshops, we’re excited to provide the programming SANDOW brands are known for to theMART’s highly engaged audience.”

To sign up for any of the ThinkLab Workshops or the Material ConneXion lecture, click here.

Thank you to the following sponsors for making the SANDOW Innovation Lab possible:

BuzziSpace, CurateFormica, Haworth, Loftwall, Scandinavian Spaces, and USM.

Continue reading SANDOW to Debut Innovation Lab at NeoCon


BUILDER’s annual product guide rounds up some of the most interesting materials, technologies, and innovations in the residential realm.

Wood flooring in light shades is especially popular this year, such as in this dining room in Miller & Smith's Brambleton Garden District community in Virginia.
Courtesy Miller & SmithWood flooring in light shades is especially popular this year, such as in this dining room in Miller & Smith’s Brambleton Garden District community in Virginia.

The best residential products exemplify both the latest trends and greatest innovations that a newly constructed home can offer. To help sort through what’s shaping product selection this year, BUILDER asked five residential design experts for their take on the biggest trends facing home builders. The products showcased below reflect their trend forecasts in each of six product categories. The pros interviewed are:
–Lee Crowder, model branding manager for Darling Homes and Taylor Morrison
–Jay Endelman, president of Maryland-based builder Guild Craft Inc.
–Manny Gonzalez, principal of Southern California–based KTGY Architecture + Planning
Washington, D.C.–based developer and builder Sean Ruppert of OPaL
–Patti Wynkoop, vice president of product development and purchasing for Mid-Atlantic area home builder Miller & Smith.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Exterior category.
Protective Finishes. Numerous exterior products are now designed to endure the extreme. Impact- and fire-resistant siding, from fiber cement to metal to hardwoods; shingles that withstand gusts up to 150 mph; and the time-tested use of shutters offer top-to-bottom protection.

Patty Wynkoop
Patty Wynkoop

Creative Privacy. Dense infill developments mean smaller yards with innovative privacy features for outdoor living. Inventive and customizable screening options include artistic fencing in unusual materials, vertical gardens, all-weather curtains, movable metal or wood panels, shoji screens, trellises, and pergolas. “We use unique design elements … to temper the close proximity of dense site plans,” says Wynkoop.

Modern Appeal. Contemporary designs and materials—larger expanses of glass, smooth surfaces, clean lines, flat or low-sloped rooflines, and commercial finishes—are in demand with buyers across the country. High-contrast color palettes such as white or pale gray with black window and door trim add a stylish touch to any architectural style. “Now we can get more creative with window and balcony placements, exterior skins, and colors,” says Gonzalez.

Al Fresco Spaces. Savvy builders provide buyers with lots of choices for outdoor amenities, including fireplaces or pits, outdoor kitchens and wet bars, entertainment equipment, and natural materials like wood and stone. “Roof decks and balconies are giving way to patios and terraces directly off kitchens and dining and living rooms,” says Ruppert.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Interior category.
Healthy Homes. Along with sustainability and energy efficiency, consumers are more educated than ever about products affecting healthy indoor air quality. They demand low- or no-VOC paints and sealants, formaldehyde-free cabinets and adhesives, antimicrobial surfaces, and whole-house water
and air purification systems.

Sean Ruppert
Sean Ruppert

Wood Flooring. Hardwood flooring finishes skew lighter with natural, unstained varietals taking center stage. Products mimicking wood are also increasing in popularity, such as porcelain tile and laminate. “People finally warmed up to engineered and vinyl wood floors. Either they warmed up or products got much better—probably both,” says Ruppert.

Open Inside to Out. Open floor plans went from a trend to common practice, but now they extend visually in all directions—even outside—and dominate throughout all house sizes, styles, and types. Interior courtyards, breezeways, and open-air entryways appeal to buyers of all ages, from young families to empty nesters. “Perhaps the biggest trend in interior space is exterior space,” says Gonzalez. “More and more, interior areas open up to exterior areas to create a lively indoor–outdoor experience.”

Artisan Accents. Consumers enjoy expressing their creativity and supporting craftspeople by selecting unique, handmade products. Even big box home furnishing stores like Target and Ikea offer limited-edition artisan collections. “Today’s consumer bypasses anything mass produced in exchange for artisan products, fixtures, and features,” says Wynkoop.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Kitchen and Bath category.
High Contrast. White kitchens and baths remain popular, but with high contrasting finishes. “Black is a really important color for 2019 and you’ll be seeing it pop up everywhere—from countertops to hardware and faucets—and paired with stark white cabinets,” says Crowder.

Lee Crowder
Lee Crowder

Plumbing Choices. A proliferation of finishes for plumbing fixtures and fittings allows homeowners to show off their personal style. Gold-plated, matte black, copper, brass, nickel, bronze, pewter, and chrome are all available across various price points in styles ranging from elaborate to sleek. “We’re seeing a revival of gold and bronze fixtures as designers mix metals in their palettes, similar to today’s fashion jewelry trends,” says Wynkoop.

Attractive & Accessible. Stylish universal design products are popping up in housing for all ages. Many of these products do double duty, such as towel racks or shower shelves acting as grab bars and spacious, no-threshold showers with built-in bench seats that also serve as shelves.

Island Living. Larger, decked-out kitchen islands continue to trend in most housing types and sizes. Treating the island like a piece of furniture is a new look, however, with islands having legs or even wheels for flexibility and more personalized style.

Floating Fixtures. Wall-hung vanities, cabinets, and toilets help the bathroom look larger and generate a sleek, serene atmosphere. Floating cabinetry and wall-hung toilets make spaces look and feel larger as the floor runs under the pieces and gives a more expansive aesthetic.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Structural category.
Cross-Laminated Timber. Cross-laminated timber is becoming popular as structural material even for taller buildings and large expanses. The product offers the strength of concrete, but it’s more sustainable, lighter, and renewable, makers say. The product also offers fire and seismic resistance and produces minimal construction waste.

Jay Endelman
August HutchinsJay Endelman

Prefab Products. Prefabricated systems allow for faster construction, stronger building envelopes, and reduction of waste. Panelized walls, flooring and roof systems, insulated concrete blocks, modular framing components, and structural insulated panels also provide builders with consistent quality of materials. “Some of the newest structural systems have a huge impact on what can be built cost effectively,” says Gonzalez.

Roof Fasteners. Even with today’s lighter roofing materials, roof fasteners make sense on every house given the increased occurrence of extreme storms. They also improve roof stability and load allowances. “Building a house now requires more wind bracing and stronger framing,” says Ruppert.

Steel Framing. As building codes get stricter, steel is making inroads with single-family construction. The material provides strength; resistance to wind, fire, and floods; quick construction time with less waste; and design creativity. Steel also serves as an environmentally friendly option as it can be recycled after use. “Lateral wind loads have increased across the board, so steel framing in residential makes more sense and allows for more flexibility,” says Endelman.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Systems category.
Long-Distance Control. Consumers want the ability to monitor and manipulate lights, locks, thermostats, audio/visual equipment, water heaters, and appliances when at home or away. Most electronic components are available in smart forms that homeowners can control with their phones and voice-activated devices. “Consumers are hungry to not only integrate their homes but also centralize the process rather than manage several separate apps for everything,” says Wynkoop.

Manny Gonzalez
Manny Gonzalez

Systems That Save. Resource- and cost-saving products like tankless or solar-powered water heaters and ductless HVAC systems reduce homeowners’ utility bills and make them feel good about preserving resources. “Some residents turn tracking their utilities into something of a ‘utility video game’ where they try to win the month by having the lowest energy usage ‘score,’” says Gonzalez.

Responsive HVAC. Manufacturers are responding to consumers’ desire for indoor comfort with heating and cooling products outfitted with high-tech features like UV air filtration, evaporative cooling, humidifying and dehumidifying, and maintenance alerts.

Home Control. Lights, blinds, and thermostats aren’t the only self-monitoring systems builders can offer as upgrades. Smart water valve controllers detect leaks and alert homeowners, or turn off the water automatically. Manufacturers also make sensors to detect problems throughout the home, from a door that’s been left open to an oven turned on, to provide added safety and peace of mind.


Click here for a roundup of the newest products in the Windows & Doors category.
Peak Performance. For both windows and doors, savvy consumers demand higher thermal values along with improved impact and wind resistance. Using increased thermal values keeps indoor temperatures more stable, saving on heating and cooling costs, while windows and doors with higher
wind resistance can stand up to severe storms.

Door Design. Homeowners want the high-end look of wood and glass on doors for maximum curb appeal, added natural light, and as a personalized look for interior doors. “Wood-style front doors and matching arbors are a new trend even in contemporary homes,” notes Ruppert.

Window Walls. Window walls are becoming more common and less expensive. Many manufacturers offer bifold, accordion, or oversized sliding glass doors to heighten indoor–outdoor connections, frame views, and make spaces feel larger even with the door closed.

Think Big. For a “wow factor” to entice potential home buyers, an oversized window is the way to go. They are available in numerous sizes and options featuring fixed glass combined with a variety of operable panels. “We’re maximizing picture windows at sizes as large as 6×6 or 8×5 for an additional 40 square feet of glass,” says Wynkoop.

Black Trim. Black trim on windows and doors–inside and out—is trending across styles and price points. Darker shades of trim require less maintenance, make the glass look bigger, and provide a luxurious look for both contemporary and traditional designs.


Shelley D. Hutchins, LEED AP, writes about residential construction and design, sustainable building and living, and travel and health-care issues.

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9 days ago
Vincent Valles

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posted on 05/07/2018 By Kadie Yale

While not overwhelming, particular palm motifs consistently poked their head out from around booths during this year’s HD Expo, mirroring the notifications we receive in the form of press releases: palm fronds, abstracted and repeating, have continued to be used in the industry, particularly in the hospitality market.

Updated to match current trends, the use of palms has a very direct relation to the historic use of pineapples in American design. But why does the now-somewhat-kitschy use of pineapples and other lush tropical vegetation continue to be prevalent in American design, and what does it mean for contemporary interiors?

Interestingly, pineapples are one of the design staples brought over to the colonies from England. The fruit is said to have been brought back to Europe during Christopher Columbus’ second voyage, and its many versions–from candied to jam–became a must-have in the upper echelons of society. However, access to raw and unprocessed pineapple was a luxury even those at the top of the class structure could hardly get ahold of.

Transporting the fruit in time meant it had to be shipped on the quickest boats in the fleet, and few were able to make it before turning. Therefore, it became a status symbol to be able to have the fresh fruit. Even King Charles II commissioned a portrait with a pineapple in-hand. While transportation became easier along the North American seaboard as the colonies expanded, pineapples were still a costly commodity; they quickly became a preferred high-society hostess gift, thereby cementing its on-going legacy as a symbol of hospitality.

While pineapple motifs are still used, they somewhat lost their luster in the mid-20th century when technology and materiality allowed them to be incorporated into the growing middle class through goods like wallpaper and clothing textiles. The fruit took off in popular culture, due heavily to Hawai’i becoming a state on August 21, 1959. In the same ways that America saw Egyptian motifs in the 1920s after the discovery of King Tut or Japanese-influenced design in the mid-19th century, the welcoming of Hawai’i to the United States became exoticized.


Today, information can be easily found on the history of pineapple motifs in interior design, but for the most part, their use has continued more often because of the mid-20th-century inspiration. Ask an interior designer why they’ve chosen to use tropical foliage or a manufacturer why it’s entered their line, and the answers are typically in response to the fun aesthetic and relaxing aura pineapple and palms give off.

It’s an easy connection to say that pineapple icons evolved into the use of other tropical plants in decor, but I believe we can take it one step further to interweave the current importance of health and wellness into the reemergence of tropical prints.

As clients and end-users become more familiar with biomimicry and biophilic design, interior designers are searching for ways to bring nature indoors. With nature-inspired design on the rise, florals were reintroduced into interiors, but while pineapples mostly harken back to images of a 50’s father in a Hawaiian t-shirt next to the grill in a newly-developed suburb, florals have a tradition of easily crossing the line into appearing matronly (most likely due to gender bias, but that topic deserves its own article). Companies such as Tarkett have been able to release floral products in recent years, but they come alongside more abstracted designs to tone down the flower patterns.


Working with flowers, and working with flowers well is a special skill few possess.

Tropical motifs, however, haven’t had the same type of gender bias that flowers have. The historical tie-in to hospitality may not be as direct as it was in the past, but the image of palms, pineapples, and birds of paradise still inspire the feeling of luxury, relaxation, and getting away from it all. Eliciting these emotions while also pulling in biophilic design principals packages the whole aesthetic into the perfect “Wish you were here!” statement.

Two notable instances during the HD Expo show were the use of more mid-century design and repeat by Innovations, and an abstracted block-print-like design by Fil Doux. In particular, these two examples show the main ways in which interior designers are using tropical greenery: in traditional, realistic ways (Innovations), or by breaking down the pattern to only its geometric elements (Fil Doux).

Designers can expect to continue to see pineapples, palms, and more tropically-integrated products in the coming years. While they may not take center-stage or be the highlight of the collection, they will continue to emerge.

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With the Public Hotel, Ian Schrager is Reinventing Luxury Hospitality. Again.

Metropolis asks the legendary hotelier and architect Ascan Mergenthaler of Herzog & de Meuron to break down the details of their new tough luxe hotel in New York.

Public Hotel Interior Design

Ian Schrager is an ideas man.

The hospitality mogul’s sprawling West Village office embodies his frenetic genius: Renderings and design experiments from his projects are tacked onto the walls, hanging alongside well-wishes from celebrity associates over the years. Schrager has written down and laminated some of his epiphanies about innovation, which he references excitedly as he discusses his latest developments.

Continue reading With the Public Hotel, Ian Schrager is Reinventing Luxury Hospitality. Again.

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