Designer Insights: Jessica Lotner, Senior Interior Designer, The McBride Company
Trending: There’s a lot of outside-the-box, creative thinking when it comes to materials right now and a lot of focus on using found objects and curated collections to create interesting designs and more authentic experiences. I was doing research recently for work on a new Peruvian restaurant and came across a place that just blew my mind. They took the theme and really went for it with creative use of materials. For dividers between the booths, for example, they took as inspiration the idea of looms and weaving, which is such a big part of Peruvian culture. Loom frames and strings were used as booth dividers. It was such a fun idea and exactly the type of thing that’s trending now, which is taking an idea and really pushing the boundaries of it. It’s very different from the old polished, refined restaurant look.
Three hot materials: One thing I’m seeing and using a lot is wood panels that have geometric formats, like herringbone. They’re already inlaid and they come in sheets so they’re affordable and very easy to install. Paired with nice lighting, they look amazing on bar fronts and even whole walls, especially when you integrate some metal with the wood. Metals are really hot now, too — not shiny, blingy-looking metals that look dated but softer, warmer metals that add richness and character to a space. They’re being showcased as large-format finishes but also in smaller applications like hardware and nail heads on the backs of banquettes and chairs, which adds another layer. Another great new thing is custom-printed wood veneers. It’s amazing!
Current obsession: Wallcoverings as art. Sometimes you have to spend a lot of money on an art budget, but now there are great alternatives with very artistic wallcoverings. From vintage photo effects, to printed panels that look like expensive molding and can be customized for any design aesthetic and in any size you want, they’re a great way to create a unique visual experience at a reasonable cost.
Best advancements: Flooring and tile. From the standpoint of both aesthetics and durability, these two materials have come so far in the past few years. There are amazing wood-look vinyls and porcelain tiles, for instance, that absorb sound, have great durability and are affordable. And the whole decorative tile segment is exploding with affordable products that really fit what clients want right now, which is a lot of vintage and aged looks. These types of materials are really game changers.
ATI’s Frosted Fusion collection offers more than 20 designs on a variety of 4-foot-by-8-foot clear substrates to create the look of frosted glass, making it suitable for divider panels, semiprivate wall panels, inserts and more. Frosted Fusion patterns range from classic motifs to modern, minimalist designs. Custom designs and branding are available as well. Frosted Fusion is available with high-impact, abrasion-resistant properties. Substrates include acrylic and polycarbonate.
ATI Decorative Laminates
Architectural Wire Mesh
Banker Wire’s S-32 architectural wire mesh has a small-scale, flat-woven pattern that’s available in several finishes. The wires weave in and out to form a basket-style mesh, and the use of flat wire at this spacing creates a lower percentage of open area. Suitable for use as screening or accent material. At the Domaine Chandon restaurant in Victoria, Australia, Foolscap Studio designers used three Banker Wire woven stainless-steel mesh products in a variety of applications throughout the space, including S-32 in cabinet doors behind the bar that reveal silhouettes of Domaine Chandon bottles.
Translucent Glazing Panels
The Fusion line integrates 3form translucent polycarbonate glazing panels with Duo-Gard’s engineered structural systems to create advanced aesthetic possibilities for canopies, facades and other exterior applications. The panels are available in a variety of colors and levels of transparency, in three finishes and three thicknesses.
Living Wall System
LiveWall is able to grow and feature a variety of plants, including herbs, greens, vegetables and flowers. This living wall system transforms regular walls into eye-catching vertical gardens that are simple to install and easy to maintain. The system is engineered with horticultural and structural features specific for indoor and outdoor environments.
Custom Timber Framing
A centuries-old building method, timber framing involves the use of large structural timbers held together with elaborate wooden joinery and hardwood pegs. MiRA Timber Frame in Alberta, Canada, offers custom work, utilizing 3D CAD software that interfaces with the company’s CNC machine to ensure quality and precision in every cut. All frames are designed and cut using traditional European mortise and tenon joinery before being inspected, sanded and stained. All timbers are sustainably sourced from old-growth forests along the West Coast of British Columbia.
MiRA Timber Frame
Permeable Paving Material
Porous Pave is a pour-in-place permeable paving material. With 27 percent void space, Porous Pave delivers 5,800 gallons per hour per square foot permeability. Made with chips of recycled rubber, it enables operators to build or expand outdoor walkways and patios or add more parking spaces without increasing impermeable surfaces. It drains quickly, keeping outdoor dining areas ready for guests right after it rains, per the manufacturer. It is non-slip, ADA-compliant.
Porous Pave Inc.
Durable, Realistic Panels
Urestone panels are large, commercial-grade faux stone, brick and wood panels that are durable, lightweight and easy to install. Designed for both new construction and remodeling projects, use them to add exterior curb appeal or interior ambience. Several variations within each material group are available, and products can be customized to meet branding and aesthetic needs. Typical panel size is 4 by 8 feet.
Decorative Breeze Blocks come available in dozens of patterns and in seven colors. Made from a mixture of cement and sand, the blocks are intended for non-load-bearing applications only. Use these unique and decorative accents to separate and define spaces indoors or out, serving as privacy screens while maintaining openness, ventilation and airflow. Sizes include 7.5 inches square by 2.5 inches deep and 11.4 inches square by 3.5 inches deep.
Real Walnut Veneer
Treefrog offers more than 30 prefinished, real wood veneer laminates ideal for vertical use in interior spaces. Every sheet showcases the timeless beauty of real wood. The company’s Walnut Straight Grain veneer, pictured in the AC Hotel by Marriott at Minnesota’s Mall of America, brings warm, consistent surfacing to restaurant and hospitality spaces. Since the veneer is prefinished, the topcoat is applied in a controlled manufacturing environment. Available in 4-foot-by-8-foot sheets, it applies as easily as laminate.