A Material Girl dishes on what's new, what's now and WHAT'S NEXT® in interior finishes


Materialista® Highlights NY Fashion Week, Retail and Hospitality Conferences & The Art of Storytelling

I can’t believe summer is officially over! One of my favorite things about fall is the energy that comes from New York Fashion Week and the retail and hospitality conferences. I'm excited to share Insights on Innovation® from ASI’s recent involvement in the design industry.

ASI caught up with Harry Cunningham, Head of Store Development at Vera Bradley after the craziness of Fashion Week (Vera Bradley was featured in the exclusive Vogue retreat) to chat about reinventing the iconic American brand. They are really not just about the quilted bag anymore! #ICYMI, check out the featured project interview: bit.ly/1LQlhRn 

Right: Vera Bradley, Virginia Beach, VA, In-House design, Featuring: ASI Hardwood Flooring - Custom

Another fashion icon, Diane von Furstenberg, who is the Chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, transformed the runway with fresh new looks for the modern business woman. ASI has supplied the signature flooring in shops globally. I recently stopped by the corporate headquarters in the Meatpacking and sighted DVF herself, what an inspiration!

Hospitality Design CityScene WELCOMED ASI to Miami!

Right: President Nancy Jackson and Nicole Homan, Interior Designer at The Related Group at the Miami Beach EDITION

Architectural Systems was a proud sponsor of Hospitality Design CityScene!  Prior to cocktails and conversation, Ron and Nancy attended a lively roundtable with Hospitality luminaries and select vendors to discuss what’s trending in the industry and how important it is to educate designers with the right product recommendations. And of course Cuba came up with big plans to revitalize the vibrant tourist destination.

Creativity and storytelling were the hot topics at design:retail Forum in Portland. Whether you are a 9 year old creating a cardboard arcade and actually wind up speaking at a Ted Talk or getting inspired by Rachel Shechtman, who pioneered a retail media model for the uber successful shop concept, Story in NYC to exploring the boundaries of path to purchase with Healey Cypher, former Head of Retail Innovation at eBay—this Forum did not disappoint! 

ASI was #OutandAbout in Austin, TX for the International Retail Design Conference (IRDC). The engaging conference showcased examples of the omni-channel platforms, done well on all levels.

Breakout sessions during the conference spoke to the brands using social media influencers, instead of models to appeal to the Millennial Mom. Lemon Pop, a new division for Charlotte Russe hires "mommy bloggers" with millions of followers to create "authentic narratives" which includes posting family photos wearing the merchandise. (Think: Happy family, happy retailer!)

Another interesting concept was from the session, “Consumer X , A love Story” that segmented brand loyalty into three stages of a shopper’s heart :attraction, dating and then commitment! ASI is privileged to be a strategic material partner to Macy’s, who is forging ahead capturing lifelong relationships with their customers!

This year's 10th annual Iron Merchant Challenge featured Yoga Mannequins! Materialista® always ahead of the trends spotlighted retail environments that cater to this trend (Athleisure, I told you so!).  Congrats to David Kepron, Creative Director - Brand Experience Studio at Little and his “Red Team” for winning the 10th Annual Iron Merchant visual merchandising challenge.

Architectural Systems was an emerald sponsor of #IRDC2015, check out more Highlights here!

Hoping that in this transitional fall season you are energized as you gain Insights on Innovation® while enjoying leaves changing colors and creating the design stories waiting to be told!

Posted at 9/30/2015 12:8 PM

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Designing Retail Environments for the Athleisure Trend

Chloe Kernaghan, left, and Krissy Jones. Credit Isak Tiner for The New York Times

"From Alexander Wang to Beyoncé, Everyone’s Doing It: The Rise of Athleisure” – Style.com

In spirit of the #getintoshapes photo contest going on this month at Architectural Systems, I switched up my normal exercise routine and organized a yoga charity event that was held on the roof deck at Equinox 61st Street. We had a great turnout and everyone enjoyed flowing through poses at sunset. 

Seeing everyone go straight to their next destination still in (very stylish) workout clothes inspired me to write about the latest fashion/design trend, Athleisure!

“Athleisure wear is a relatively new concept, and its explosive growth over the past few years shows no sign of abating” – design:retail Magazine

Athleisure: the blurring of athletic and leisure pursuits. Think anything from designer leggings, cashmere sweaters and luxury "gym-to-street" workout clothes

"Athleisure is bigger than a trend, as evidenced by the people who wear yoga pants anywhere." - Instyle Magazine

Merchants are challenged with creating the right ambiance for a perfect combination of leisure and luxury and they look to retail design professionals to create shops that showcase luscious high performance apparel in the right setting.

Always ahead of trends, ASI was involved years ago in the first private label active wear department at  Macy’s. To highlight their launch of the shop-in-shop, ASI supplied a custom-colored vinyl film from The Perla™ Collection, laminated to a purple acrylic to create a focal wall which featured the famous supermodel/muse and pioneer of athleisure Christy Turlington, as a yogi mannequin. Namaste!

#ASImaterials                         #getintoshapes                                 #ASImaterials

In the new concept stores for Lucy Activewear, Eco-Dimension Bamboo Wall Panels part of ASI Wood Panels were installed on the merchandise wall to reflect movement that is synergistic with their brand loyal customers.

To complete the athleisure look, you need to find the perfect athletic footwear. For Lace-Up  in Brooklyn, ASI supplied luxury vinyl flooring in a stone pattern to recreate a timeless retail environment, while tying in the experience of “lacing up” the right shoe to complement the gym-to-street apparel trend.

I’m really excited about the new patterns we are introducing to the phenomenally popular Ornamental Surfaces collection. This material is ideal for designers creating spaces for the athleisure wear!


Looking for even more inspiration, check out ASI Material Boards created on demand for designer presentations, ideas and collaboration:


How do you Get Into Shape(s)? Join ASI’s #getintoshapes contest for a chance to win a Fitbit Charge by posting a photo to Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter with your favorite ASI material, favorite ASI project or show us how you are Getting Into Shape(s) using #ASImaterials or #getintoshapes! The winner will be announced on September 8!

Posted at 8/20/2015 1:6 PM

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Sand Between Your Toes.. Summer-Inspired Design + Special Guest Blogger, Glen Coben

Back from Long Beach Island! Summer is my favorite time of the year. I always feel refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired after my beach vacation. This summer, I am looking forward to catching up with friends (Rooftop bars!), getting into a great book and summer BBQ's with family!

Speaking of catching up with family and friends, I was at Glen and Company dropping off samples for their client presentation and I had the opportunity to chat with Glen Coben. Glen agreed to guest blog about his summer plans and design inspiration!

Materlista®: How have you been spending your summer?

Glen Coben: Working extremely hard!  We have many clients who are trying to open their doors in September.

M: How has the summer inspired your work?

GC: I love light and breezy and that whole sum, sum, summertime vibe! We New Yorkers have such brutal winters that spring and summer give us a chance to let loose and be a little carefree. That attitude extends to our work! 

M: What is your favorite thing about summer?

GC: Drinking rose and eating fresh fruit!  Going to the farmers market and seeing the bounty of veggies and fruit. Oh, and having fresh tomatoes. Nothing in the world is better than a fresh tomato!

M: Which materials evoke a summer feel?

GC: Cork. Espadrille prints. Sand between your toes. Bluestone. Tea lights and a half-full bottle of rosé!

M: What are you looking forward to most this summer?

GC: Camp visiting day!  There is no better hello than having my daughter run and leap into my arms after not having seen her in four weeks!!!!

Architectural Systems is also enjoying summer with the #powerofmaterials! The Shore Hardwood Collection from ASI inspires a casual, beach-like oasis. A quick trip to Montauk anyone? Just check out Montauk Driftwood Porcelain that captures the time weathered look of coastal hardwoods. 

I love how materials transport you to summertime! Here are some of my favorite sun and sand worthy materials (Sunscreen not included!):

I hope everyone is enjoying the warm weather! I would love to hear how your summer vacation has inspired your work. Drop me a line with your beach-inspired story at materialista@archsystems.com.

Posted at 7/15/2015 10:36 AM

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Materialista® on the Pulse: The Evolved Workspace

This past week, Architectural Systems once again was a presence in the Interiors & Sources Materials Pavilion at Neocon, the largest commercial interiors tradeshow in North America. Held in the (mammoth!) Merchandise Mart in Chicago, this show focuses on products and trends that are on point for corporate interiors.

The continual trend of creating areas that will foster collaboration and offer flexible work spaces gives the design community the opportunity to incorporate finishes and materials that typically have not been specified in traditional office layouts. 

ASI featured nine product collections, which included the new Structura™ Eco-Panels, Crossfuse™ Wood Panels, Reflektiv™ Deco Panels, Imagio Hardwoods, and the latest in Fusión Wood Panels, Interwoven Eco-Panels, MIXX™ Porcelain, Aegean Eco-Porcelain and Ornamental Surfaces - Glam Acrylics. The buzz around our ASI display was, "if you want to select something unique that hasn't been seen around, connect with Architectural Systems!"

Highlights during the Neocon show include the IIDA Cool Gala, an annual celebration honoring design excellence. ASI was #OutAndAbout with Kiel Wuellner, VP/Creative Director and Shelly Ave, Chicago-area Account Executive/National Account Executive, attending. Congrats to all the winners!

Another great night was at the iconic Gibson's Steak House, where Nancy Jackson, President of ASI, flew in to host a #DiningAndDesign memorable evening with our favorite Chicago designers. It was another successful trip to the Windy City !

Posted at 6/18/2015 2:25 PM

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Materialista® on the Pulse: Experience is the New Expectation

Back from Vegas! I had the pleasure of exhibiting at HD Expo and attending multiple hospitality inspired events in Las Vegas and NYC, including #ToastyTuesday. Tracking the trends on hospitality design, there is a noticeable paradigm shift. The guest experience is influencing the way branded and boutique hotels deliver on the wants and needs of the modern day traveler.

HD Expo 2015, Las Vegas

ASI had another successful HD Expo show, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Convention Center, launching 5 innovative materials that speak to designing for the original brand experience. We had a positive response to Crossfuse™ Wood Panels, Reflektiv™ Deco Panels, FORM Concrete Porcelain, Structura™ Eco-Panels (Happening Soon) and TimberWood Veneers, complementing our full offering of interior finishes.

Young Entrepreneurs Breakfast

Rachel Cooper and I were excited to attend the NEWH Annual HD Expo Breakfast (The Young Entrepreneurs). A panel of up & coming luminaries in hospitality design discussed industry challenges, secrets and trends. One of my key takeaways was hotel chains are basing design on the guest centric experience, which is the new expectation!

#Toasty Tuesday

Another memorable Toasty Tuesday! This monthly NEWH networking event showcases hospitality design and is a great way to see the latest NYC Hotels!  Heather Maloney, VP of Design Chelsea Hotels led a group tour of the Martha Washington Hotel. The boutique hotel, built in 1903 exclusively for women, has been restored to be spacious, comfortable and exclusively for everyone. Another trend I noticed is guest bathrooms are getting a lot of special attention to detail, as seen in the stone porcelain tile installed in Chevron patterns in the image below.


IIDA Hospitality Forum, New York Chapter

Held at the Haworth Showroom, a captivating panel, moderated by Nancy Jackson, ASI President, discussed Customizing the Guest Experience in Hospitality and how the landscape is changing. They also touched upon trends to note when crafting a customer experience and how a brand now competes with Airbnb's authentic and local offerings. The guest journey now begins through social media and designing the perfect backdrop setting for a "selfie", which is all part of the mix when creating a sense of place.

Trends in Hospitality Design

The traditional hotel lobby is being refreshed in a more dynamic and functional way. Hospitality giants like the Marriott are melding the business center into these public spaces for a comfortable and communal experience. One example highlighting this concept was debuted at HiConnect 2015, in the Club M award-winning vignette incorporating ASI materials (ASI was a proud sponsor). Another trend I am seeing is the size of guest rooms are smaller and pared down, keeping only the essentials for a traveler while encouraging guests to be more social and migrate to open areas in the hotel.

Marta, a new restaurant at the Martha Washington Hotel designed by Selldorf Architects, is a great example of this trend (and one of my favorite dining spots!). It is located right next to the façade, enticing hotel guests to dine before checking in and people passing by to stop in for a taste of Chef Nick Anderer’s amazing cuisine and celebrate an occasion!

Attending NeoCon? Please stop by ASI at Booth 8-2130 at The Interiors and Sources Materials Pavilion, June 15-17, to view WHAT'S NEXT® in materials for Corporate Environments.

Posted at 5/26/2015 9:36 AM

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Materialista® On the Pulse: What’s Going On and Who’s Making it Happen

Last month I had the privilege of being invited to the Bill Burns lecture at the Clodagh Design Center along with Account Executive John Geagan. Mr. Burns spoke about finding success and happiness and empowering yourself to find solutions and make personal changes. The evening was a reflection of the generous, life-enhancing energy Clodagh’s studio is recognized for. I aspire to model my own path after Clodagh!

Not only an award-winning designer and author, Clodagh is a citizen of the world and a philanthropist. Founder of ClodaghCares, she believes in the fundamental right of every child to receive a good education. The Thorn Tree, one of several organizations she supports, raises money through the sale of traditional Samburu bracelets. These bracelets combine beautiful design with purpose; just one bracelet can pay for a nutritionally balanced breakfast for one child every day for one whole school year. Involved in philanthropic organizations myself, I find it important to give back. And as many of you may know, I collect bracelets. How could I resist?

Architectural Systems has had a long standing commitment to nurturing future generations of design students. The ASI Showroom has always been the perfect destination for a class trip, and I am proud to say I have taken the torch from my Mom, Nancy Jackson, an advocate of sharing the "business of design." Recently, I gave internationally acclaimed designer/professor Joseph Lembo and his students from the Fashion Institute of Technology a materials tour. I spoke with them about ASI’s collaboration with designers and architects and the process from design development to a project’s completion, explaining the rewards and challenges of the industry.

Giving back to the community is important to my success and happiness. No project, client, or budget is the same and this makes every day captivating and gratifying. I love working in an industry where sharing and education is valued and creativity and collaboration occurs every day!

Tradeshow season is here! We are putting the finishing touches on our booth for GlobalShop 2015 and ASI is excited to launch 8 new innovative curated collections. Back by popular demand, the booth lounge is just the perfect place to be inspired and get creative, especially when designing for the Here and Now Shopper. We look forward to seeing you there!

Posted at 3/5/2015 7:41 AM

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Realizing the Design Vision - Part III

If you started off 2015 following the Materialista®, then you know that I’ve been asking a few of my favorite designers how they keep their creativity flowing.  Kelly Dunne, Creative Director, Kramer Design Group talked about cozy whites, color and the inspiration she finds exploring, Ximena Hoyos, Interior Architect, CetraRuddy, likes retro styles, weathered looks, and finds her inspiration through social media.  Concluding our three part series is Lisa Sternfeld, Principal of LSID, Inc. with whom ASI has enjoyed many successful collaborations.  It’s my pleasure to share Lisa’s insights and observations as we contemplate WHAT'S NEXT® for the new year!

M: Where do you find inspiration for your projects?

Lisa Sternfeld: I’m always inspired by travel. A new surrounding does wonders for perspective. I just returned from South America and was struck by the saturated colors of the buildings against the raw earthiness of the land. I can see exploring that juxtaposition in my work.

M: What are the design trends you see for 2015?

LS: Some of the design trends you’ll see this year are the use of mixed metals, smoky glass and mirror and the continued use of natural materials like stone and wood with more raw texturized finishes. I especially like the idea of mixing warmer and cooler metals together like copper mixed with silver, or brass with a dark bronze. There’s a fresh unexpectedness to it.

ASI materials are always on trend. Click images to view products.

Celebrating 25 years of creativity and collaboration, as a strategic material partner, Architectural Systems works closely with designers to select finishes that realize the vision. Materialista® welcomes the opportunity to work with you on your current and upcoming projects.

Not to be missed - IIDANY Chapter Co-Chair Hospitality Forum and Co-Founder and President of Architectural Systems, Nancy Jackson, will be moderating the IIDANY Hospitality Forum Event on March 18, 2015. Haworth Showroom, NY, NY.

Posted at 2/5/2015 12:31 PM

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