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


How to Relax and Rejuvenate Materialista® Style

This month, Architectural Systems honors health and wellness, and as a girl constantly on the go, it’s important to me to rest, relax, and rejuvenate! Whether I have the pleasure of traveling or it’s a local staycation, downtime really refreshes me. 

During my spare time, I love connecting online and being social. Diane von Furstenberg has a great digital presence and I am always inspired by her. She's the icon of the DVF brand, and someone ASI has been working with for years as the global flooring supplier. The DVF brand just turned forty years old and recently, Diane went to Positano. Her vacation resonated with me because every day I drop off the newest porcelain sample binders from the Mediterranean Porcelain Collection. Everyone loves this product and it really evokes the feeling of old world Italian villas on the Mediterranean Sea, which is exactly the sense-of-place ASI drew upon as we developed this eco-porcelain collection.

But as I am so busy here in New York, I can’t always escape and a staycation is more realistic. Right now there is a great Jeff Koons exhibit at the Whitney and a Charles James exhibit at the Met, “Beyond Fashion.”

How true is this? Fashion, architecture and design disciplines are so intertwined and that’s what I do as the Materialista®: I am here to attract what’s fashionable in materials and connect for you these trends!

One of my favorite districts in New York to visit is the Meatpacking District. Here you can get delicious food, the best retail stores in the world, and you can stop anytime to smell the roses along the High Line. Another fun fact: ASI is about to launch the new Manhattan Vinyl Collection influenced by five of New York City neighborhoods - from Hudson Yards to Madison Square, including the High Line.

And while I was relaxing Sunday, I read in the in NYTMag about rooftop pools popping up. I am lucky my building has a fabulous rooftop pool. From the breathtaking skyline view of the city to my own miniature roof top oasis, a little escape like this never gets old!

Also when I have a little down time, I get to reflect on what’s important to me. I really cherish my involvement in the UJA, a philanthropic group dedicated to giving back, and I am honored to be named their newest board member. They are hosting a mixology class soon and hopefully I won’t feel so rushed so I can have some fun, learn how to make a specialty cocktail, and enjoy my social circle!

This organization and my social commitments are really important to me. Here at the showroom I host a monthly Materialista®’s Mixers and starting again in September, over some drinks and design, I will be discussing not only the latest in materials and what’s trending, but also introducing ASI’s new innovative collections, and our classic award-winning finishes.  I would love to invite your firm here, so let’s be in touch!

Though above all, family time is the greatest joy for me. Yes, I have the pleasure of seeing and working with my family every day but it’s different when we all head to the beach town I grew up in and just relax. This weekend, we get to celebrate a charity day at Inwood. Nancy and Ron always sponsor a banner on the tennis courts and we all compete in the charity tournament. As a family, we all work hard and play hard!

I hope this summer whether your vacation plans are exotic or just enjoying a staycation, rest up! It’s going to be a busy end of year. Check in soon for the latest from me, the Materialista®, and you can always see what I’m up to our social media accounts here: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

Safe travels!

Posted at 7/30/2014 10:35 AM

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Modern Workplace Part 2

Read part 1 about the rapidly changing corporate workplace and how it effects design.

Skullcandy Office featuring customizeable workspaces - designed by Arthur de Chatelperron + Hugo Hélène, Zurich, Switzerland

As ASI celebrates the Modern Workplace in the month of June, I will continue to explore the transformation of the office landscape. A successful company needs to attract, nurture, and retain the talent that will drive innovation and execution, and bring the organization's strategy to fruition. Noted in the Herman Miller showroom during NeoCon, the legendary brand identified five key principles engaged employees are seeking: security, autonomy, belonging, achievement, status and purpose. Another global industry leader Steelcase stated "employee engagement is a serious, bottom-line issue." Since there is a direct correlation between engagement and performance, it is driving new design concepts of how and where we work with a powerful sense of incorporating collaboration culture.

Herman Miller Living Office principles (left), Quiet Work Space by Steelcase and Susan Cain at NeoCon 2014 (right)

While the A&D community is developing workspaces that feel intuitive and foster collaboration to boost productivity, a new challenge has emerged - the privacy crisis. NeoCon, one of the premiere tradeshows for corporate finishes (with over 40,000 architecture and design professionals in attendance), acknowledged and addressed the privacy concerns that are a growing design issue. The need for a place where focused work can be done without distraction is increasing in the changing office environment. Steelcase added, "While collaboration remains critical for driving innovation, the ability to focus, reflect and reinvigorate is critical for successful collaboration." 

ASI Product Display in the Materials Pavilion at NeoCon 2014

The materials chosen for these type of designs are more important than ever, requiring both form and function. ASI showcased WHAT'S NEXT® in Corporate Interiors in the Materials Pavilion, inspiring designers with our award-winning innovative finishes for contract projects that will rejuvenate the employees in these new kind of places to work. 

D'Addario & Company, Inc, Farmingdale, NY featuring Interwoven Eco-Panels

As Materialista® I collaborate on a lot of interesting projects. D'Addario is a great example of how a company evolved a space to adapt to their changing needs. Did you know that they are one of the world's largest musical string producers with a history dating back to the 1600s?! D'Addario's in-house team searched for a signature material to refresh their Artist Lounge, a multi-use area where they conduct photo shoots, performances and meetings with famous music personalities. They chose Interwoven Eco-Panels for a feature wall, which offered textural but abstract details, complementing the clean look and even added acoustical value to this reimagined space - all while maintaining their corporate sustainability practices and reinforcing their global brand image. Talk about perfect harmony!

Birchbox, New York, NY featuring Fusion Wood Panels and ASI Porcelain Wood Grains

I love getting my BirchBox in the mail! You can imagine how excited I was to collaborate with Design 3 when Manny Enriquez, Principal of Design 3 created an environment for socialization and ideation, incorporating the fresh and fun brand with natural-looking materials from ASI: Fusion Wood Panels and ASI Porcelain Wood Grains. The office boasts several social spaces where employees can interact, including a large kitchen that features an Agglomerate Stone slab counter, perfect for dishing ideas!

Birchbox, New York, NY Featuring ASI Porcelain Wood Grains and ASI Agglomerate Stone Slab

The workplace is evolving for the better. It's about change! Shifts and paradigms will impact the way designers approach the modern workplace. With the importance of this changing methodology, a great quote I read in the Harvard Business Review from Bill Taylor (the co-founder of Fast Company) resonates extremely well, "You can't be special, distinctive and compelling in the marketplace unless you create something special, distinctive and compelling in the workplace." I look forward to working with you find your special, distinctive and compelling materials! The challenge of translating the brand into materials is what I enjoy the most!

As July approaches, our focus will shift from the Modern Workplace to Summer Retreats! Enjoy the weather! 

Posted at 6/24/2014 1:38 PM

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Modern Workplace - Part 1

June is the month that ASI celebrates the Modern Workplace and showcases WHAT'S NEXT® in Corporate Interiors at the Materials Pavilion at NeoCon in Chicago. ASI is also honored to have several award-winning products selected once again to be on display throughout the Pavilion gallery space. Look for the NeoCon recap in my next blog post.

Lately, I have noticed that the traditional office is experiencing a transformation. I wanted to take a deeper look into the trends on how we work today and how it effects the design process. The culture shift to a work anywhere and anytime model is leading the way. There is a premium on meaningful, face-to-face interactions, which was reinforced in Dialogue Magazine, a Gensler publication I recently read. (ASI has enjoyed a long history of successful projects with Gensler!)

NVIDIA Headquarters, Santa Clara, CA - Designed by Gensler

In order to increase teaming, the headquarters of NVIDIA (the leading manufacturer of computer graphics processing units) were designed around "circulation patterns that encourage chance meetings and make it easy to connect with others". Spaces are now being specifically designed for these chance encounters. The informal lounge areas successfully boost the creative process. Designers still must be mindful about providing designated areas for staff that require privacy, intense focus and quiet rooms. A fun fact - I took a tour of the Google offices, where phone rooms were designed for employees to have private phone areas amongst the open space!

CBRE Headquarters, Los Angeles, CA - Designed by Gensler

CBRE also resonates this changing office dynamic. When Gensler was designing the new global headquarters for their client in Los Angeles, CBRE chose not to have assigned offices or desks. The goal was to provide a fundamentally better and more productive experience for their 1,100 employees. 15 types of areas were developed based on needs - from coffee-shop style nooks to full glass conference rooms -  all to encourage impromptu discussions, free thinking and most importantly to CBRE, positive energy. 

The NeueHouse, New York, NY - Designed by Rockwell Group

One of the most interesting new approaches to a modern workplace is undoubtedly the NeueHouse, designed by Rockwell Group. They've executed a radical concept of what a work environment could be - as a well appointed private membership work collective that includes a series of spaces, amenities and experiences, perfectly suited towards the spontaneity of collaborating and creating. The eclectic environment is all about building community with a focus on flexibility and hospitality, serving special events from brands like Cartier and Paul Smith, to the ambitious and creative members (or as they call them - solopreneurs).

IIDA NY Hospitality Forum Event Panel: Dr. Nadal Shami - Chief Operating Officer, CityMD Urgent Care; Barry Richards - Principal and Studio Leader, Rockwell Group; Moderator Nancy Jackson, President - Architectural Systems; Bradley Rim - Director of Interiors, LEED AP and Associate AIA, Andrew Fredman Architect, LLC; Michael Samuelian - VP, Related Companies; Annie Lee - Principal, Interior Design of Environetics and Jill VanDusen - Manager of Business Operations, HarperCollins Publishers.

The days of sitting in cubicles and only working independently are becoming a thing of the past. As professionals work longer hours and more collaboratively, they are expecting that amenities be a part of the office environment. As Nancy Jackson, President of Architectural Systems states, "Experience is the new expectation."  Nancy was the moderator of a fascinating IIDA Forum Event discussion on how hospitality design is influencing where we work, live and play (coincidently held at the NeueHouse). Watch the highlights from the prominent designers and their clients as they share their point of view on how they are meeting these design challenges.

Are you wondering why your office isn't quite as evolved yet? This kind of monumental change doesn't happen quickly. As millenials (myself included) continue to enter the workforce and put our own stamp on things, we will benefit from increased productivity (hopefully) with the new imagined spaces and more opportunities to continue collaborating with all the teams across our businesses, developing synergy. 

Google Office, New York, NY

Who needs that window office anymore? It's so Mad Men! I would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you on your current and upcoming  projects and realize your vision for the modern work place! Let's arrange time to meet for a latte!!

Posted at 6/2/2014 11:15 AM

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The Hospitality Experience

I love hospitality design. It's all about the guest experience! The materials become the focus in the design process. The HD Expo is one of the premiere tradeshows where hospitality designers keep abreast of what's happening in the industry. Whatever they can imagine they can find here!

Architectural Systems ready for HD Expo to begin! CEO Ron Jackson, Materialista® - Gabrielle Jackson, Sr. VP of Sales Rachel Cooper, President Nancy Jackson and VP of Special Projects Kiel Wuellner.

ASI has been exhibiting at this show for over 10 years. Our booth was very active, introducing eight innovative new products. The highlight of the show for me was when the Annual IIDA/HD Product Design Competition winners were announced and Cast Stone Dimensional Panels won two of the prestigious awards! Made from 90% recycled quarried stone, these unique sustainable panels won the Eric Engstrom Best of Competition, which was for the top product across all categories and the Award of Excellence for Applied Finishes and Materials - Wall Coverings and Treatments category! Such a great honor!

Materialista® with the award-winning Cast Stone Dimensional Panels!

Rick Marencic, Principal at Daroff Design and IIDA/HD Competition judge, summed up Cast Stone perfectly. “It was the Magic Bullet! Cast Stone Dimensional Panels combined a great aesthetic with a sustainability story, and on a separate note we are all aware and grateful of Architectural Systems involvement in the industry.”

Another great moment was the “Celebrating Hospitality Giants” event hosted by Interior Design Magazine, which ASI was proud to sponsor. It started with a special VIP “hard-hat” tour of the under construction SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, which will feature interiors designed by Phillipe Starck with LA influenced restaurants and Fred Segal shops! I can't wait to stay here once they open!

Materialista®, Kiel Wuellner and Rachel Cooper in the SLS photobooth!

After the fun preview of the SLS, we mixed and mingled at another sbe property, the Double Barrel Roadhouse, which features Reclaimed Barn Wood, part of ASI Wood Panels, throughout the energetic space! It was an exciting night of connecting with designers we work with from all over the country. I really enjoy the face time with everyone in one place! 

Materialista® with Kay Lang, President and CEO of Kay Lang Associates and Ron Jackson, ASI. 

Another great after hours event was the annual Party by the Pool, this year at the Daylight Beach Club in the Mandalay Bay. It was fun to dance, have some cocktails and catch up with everyone. I love that Ximena Hoyos of Cetra Ruddy and I got to have a photo opp! Want to see all of my pictures, I'm sharing my Facebook album.

Materialista® with Ximena Hoyos at The Party by the Pool at the Daylight Beach Club in Mandalay Bay.

I welcome the opportunity to work with you on current and upcoming projects, especially since hospitality design is influencing so many segments of the industry. I look forward to collaborating with you!

Posted at 5/21/2014 11:34 AM

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Honoring Earth Month with Some of My Favorite ASI Sustainable Projects

April is Earth Month! As one of the first companies to offer "green" products to the A&D community, ASI has been a steward for protecting the planet. Our eco-conscious materials have proudly been specified in projects around the globe. I’d like to share a couple award-winning and environmentally friendly projects here in New York.

I recently spent a Sunday afternoon at Treehaus, a new couture deli that incorporates a juxtaposition of woods and a marble-like flooring to create a unique design influenced by nature. The designers at UnSPACE selected a marbleized pattern from ASI Eco-Porcelain I as the flooring to give the modern cafe a clean and crisp look, while being GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality Certified and contributing to LEED® credits. The food was delicious as well and the bacon latte was addictive!

Another sustainable project that I enjoyed collaborating with was the Bentley Suite at the St. Regis Hotel. ASI collaborated with Wimberly Interiors to create a new, one-of-a-kind suite that reflects the bespoke elements of both brands, delivering the ultimate guest experience!

ASI Hardwood Flooring V was installed as the flooring throughout the suite. The high performing, dark stained hardwood is FSC®-Certified and Lacey Act compliant and was a perfect pairing to the Bentley custom leathers that were chosen as furniture components. I love this hotel suite and can't wait to stay here! Did I mention that it comes with a chauffeured Bentley?!

I’m proud to be a part of a company that is committed to the environment and supports responsible manufacturing processes (while celebrating 25 years of creativity and collaboration!). We are fortunate that the aesthetics of ecological materials we offer have advanced to such a high degree.  View our entire gallery of projects. I look forward to working with you on your current and upcoming projects!

Posted at 4/24/2014 10:2 AM

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Live from Las Vegas: Showcasing What's Next in Retail Finishes at GlobalShop 2014!


GlobalShop is the place to see the latest for retail store design. The energy was electric with the majority of global retailers and designers in attendance. Our exhibition booth and lounge was an amazing meeting point to see familiar faces and build new relationships. I had many great conversations with top designers from around the world about incorporating ASI materials into their store design and resolve their challenges.

Architectural Systems launched 6 new products at GlobalShop including Carved Porcelain, Cast Stone Dimensional Panels, Envision® Quartz Tile, Lido Hardwood, Metropolitan Hardwood Collection and Ornamental Magnetic Cubes. View the video below to get a first look at some of these innovative materials! You can see all of the products we featured at the show in our virtual booth.

While in Las Vegas I was able to also stop by some of my favorite stores. One of my personal role models is designer, international business titan and philanthropist, Diane von Furstenberg. I have always admired her quote, "Women inspire me and I design to inspire women." DVF's highly sophisticated and chic global luxury lifestyle brand, embodies this modern femininity. Very elegant and fashion forward, the Vegas store represents a gallery-like concept and a great place to spend an afternoon! It's an honor to be a strategic material partner to this iconic brand.

Diane von Furstenberg, Las Vegas, NV
Kramer Design Group
Crystalized Glass Stone Collection

Another classic retailer I enjoyed is Vacheron Constantin, the legendary luxe Swiss watchmaker who has been in business for over 250 years! More than just prestige watches, their brand is timeless (no pun intended!) and the Vegas boutique has clean lines and natural materials reflecting their tradition for technical and aesthetic excellence. Their watches are true works of art!

VC-LVVacheron Constantin Boutique, The Palazzo Resort, Hotel, & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
ASI Hardwood Flooring

Architectural Systems has exhibited at GlobalShop for over 10 years! 2014 was another successful show for ASI, in fact one of our best yet. I love being able to engage with retail designers creatively about their national account programs. If you'd like to discuss your current or upcoming projects, visit ASI in New York or send me an email and let's talk!

Posted at 3/27/2014 11:20 AM

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We Love Materials!

Party inspiration! Recycled Glass Tile from ASI Speciality Products cut into a heart shape with an Ornamental Surfaces arrow.

ASI recently hosted a Valentine's Day inspired event in the showroom called "We Love Materials". We celebrated our passion for curating innovative products and collaborating with our industry friends (and of course my family!). It was the first time many of the partygoers have seen our our newly re-imagined showroom. The feedback on the beautiful space was overwhelmingly positive and the energy was electric!

More than 200 people mixed, mingled and showed their love for materials in the ASI Showroom.

ASI President Nancy Jackson sharing the party's signature chocolate martini with Adam Carmichael of Saks and my Uncles, Curtis and Sid.

Marco Baldassari and Noelia Ibanez of Handel Architects with ASI Account Executive Laura Alvarez.

ASI Senior Vice President of National Accounts, Andrew Cooper with Andrew Brezina of Hudson’s Bay/Lord & Taylor, Nancy Jackson, ASI President and Ron Jackson, ASI CEO.

DJ Bee spun our favorite love songs all night amongst the ASI materials, ending the night with a dance party!

ASI Senior Account Executive Sarah McGrath with Emily Kangas, Kate Balfour and Emily Owen, all of Stephen B. Jacobs.

The ASI Showroom is an excellent place for ideas and inspiration for current and upcoming projects. Everyone was able to enjoy the delicious food and drinks, while exploring the power of materials! Get a sense of the vibe of the evening, view the video of the fun night below! 

We even had a photo booth and of course everyone loved it! Enjoy some of our favorite photos!

Thanks to everyone who attended the party! If you missed it, make sure you are on our mailing list. Don't wait until the next Valentine's Day to come visit the showroom and unleash your creativity! I encourage you to schedule an appointment to meet and collaborate with me (Materialista) or your ASI Sales Executive to view What's Next® in materials.

I am loving our Recycled Glass Tiles and Ornamental Surfaces (the heart at the top) right now. Which materials are you in love with?

Posted at 2/11/2014 10:30 AM

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