A Study in Materials

Final Blog Quote

I have long admired the work of Grace Jeffers, a noted design historian and published author. She was born and raised in the design industry (just like me!), and her passion comes from a lifelong study both in academia at the Bard Graduate Center for the Decorative Arts and through product design. Grace is a true champion of green design, especially when it comes to interior finishes. 

As fellow material experts, we love to talk shop with Grace, who has written about ASI products over the years, and we were honored to be selected for her special, curated section of the Materials Pavilion at NeoCon (8th floor, Merchandise Mart in Chicago, June 10-12).


Organized by Interiors & Sources magazine, the Materials Pavilion is designed to inspire with fresh samples (detailed on their origin, makeup and recommended applications) in an experiential and educational format.

Grace visited the Architectural Systems showroom recently, and chose four products from our extensive range, based on their innovative properties and considering factors like: durability, sustainability, economy, availability and design.

ASI materials to be highlighted at Neocon in the Materials Pavilion: 

Fusión Wood Panels mix natural materials and reclaimed wine barrels for a dimensional effect in a range of patterns and species. Made from pressed bamboo pulp, Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panels is a collection of 3-D panels, available in six unfinished patterns that can be painted or stained to match any brand statement.

Fusion Panel Final

                   Fusión Wood Panels                  Eco-Dimensions Bamboo Wall Panels

The designer-quality look of Evolution Acoustic Panel System instantly captured Grace's eye with its breadth of finishes including wood grains, melamine and faux leather (with integrated hardware and coordinating non-acoustic surface options). 

And the award-winning Techno™ Recycled Glass Surfaces in 10 gemstone-inspired colorations is a sustainable and stylish material made from 99% pre-and post-consumer recycled glass. 

 Acoustic New Stroke

                 Acoustic Panel System                  Techno™ Recycled Glass Surfaces

When Grace stopped in to see the latest in our robust offerings, I caught up with her to hear about her activities at the show. 

This is the third year that you’re curating the Materials Pavilion. Are you mixing it up this year? 


"As always, it is my goal to show attendees something they have never seen before. This year, I will also speak! I will premiere a lecture titled Man Made Natural, which examines our attitudes toward—and the values we place on—natural and synthetic materials. I challenge people to question whether natural materials are always preferable to man-made, especially when you consider issues such as dwindling natural resources, durability and cost. We will look at 5,000 years of decorative arts to illustrate the surprising history of man-made materials. For example, glass was used by the ancient Egyptians to imitate lapis and turquoise and it was NOT considered a cheap substitute. We consider glass a pure material today.

My talk will take our perceptions about materials and turn them on their heads."

Where do you see the future of sustainable materials heading?

"Our material choices can positively affect the environment in ways we may not have considered. I’m interested in how simulations of real materials (with the understanding that they are “stand-ins” for the genuine article), can preserve natural resources. I think there are some places in the world, like the equatorial rain forests of Indonesia, which we should leave alone. Products from these areas, like wild teak and palm oil, will disappear from those forests in less than eight years.

Rainforest 2

I recommend other teaks—reclaimed, farmed, and different species of solid wood that are treated to wear like teak, in addition to totally synthetic imitations of teak. My lecture encourages us to make these distinctions. Each category of this species has a radically different impact. I think it is the responsibility of our community to understand these impacts at every level."

Trop Organix Group

Teakwood Mosaics from new Tropical Organix™

Share with us where you continually find inspiration.

"I am a sucker for beauty; What can I say? I spent years of my life combing museums and studying art history. Great design resonates. We see it but really, we feel it. I love visiting ASI because during every trip I have ever made, I have found something that made my brain say 'AHHHHHH!' I truly believe that bringing beauty into the world and inspiring wonder is a noble cause."

Met and Louvre Museum

       The Metropolitan Museum of Art                               The Louvre

Like Grace, I draw much of my inspiration from museum exhibits while tracking what's fashionable in materials. (I can’t wait to see the newly opened Costume Institute exhibition at the Met, PUNK: Chaos to Couture, a fabulous retrospective!)

Grace for Web

For a peak at the future of design, please don’t miss Grace Jeffers’ Materials Pavilion at NeoCon. Our favorite design historian is currently at work on a two-volume publication—pouring her encyclopedic knowledge of the subject into The New Materials Handbook—due out next year through Thames and Hudson, London. Check back regularly for details of Grace's book signing in the ASI showroom upon its release!

Posted at 5/20/2013 8:32 AM

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