Products Archive - Max Design's Interior Design Blog
Recently, I was pointed to Justice Design Group
by an electrician that I was working with to specify exterior lighting for a home renovation. I'd seen Justice products before, but I'd not had an opportunity to use them.
Well, I've found Justice to be a great example of excellence in design and quality. The materials used and the finishes available for both exterior and interior lighting are top notch. When looking for exterior sconces for front and side entries, I was presented with choices from ADA compliant fixtures to "dark sky" (environmentally and wildlife friendly downlight only) fixtures, and choices in both metal and ceramic construction.
For interior products, the families of chandeliers, bowls, pendants, wall sconces, bath/vanity lighting and freestanding fixtures are cohesive and well made, featuring hand-cast ceramics and hand-finished metals. The array of ceramic shades available, in many appealing shapes and designs (or "impressions"), reflects Justice Design Group's fine aesthetics and commitment to quality.
Architects, designers and contractors alike are drawn to Justice Design Groups fine selections and materials. Their website is easy to use and they have a showroom finder on their site for locating a showroom near you.
Disclaimer: I receive absolutely no compensation of any kind from Justice Design Group.
This product has been available for a couple of years, but just recently caught my eye when I was researching fixtures for a bathroom renovation project that required a contemporary direction.
The Kohler "WaterTile
" shower head and body spray line features a vertical wall installation that ties in quite nicely with tile, and also features a fully adjustable, pivoting spray face.
The "WaterTile" is available in a wide range of Kohler finishes, and works well with many of their fixtures, especially the more chunky or angular fixtures such as the Memoirs, Pinstripe or Margaux lines, thereby offering a terrific way to introduce a contemporary element to a bathroom project, whether in an entirely contemporary setting or a more traditional one.
The "WaterTile" line also features a round body spray option
, which is installed virtually flush to the wall, is adjustable up and down to alter the spray angle, and coordinates well with some of the Kohler round fittings such as the Forte or Coralais lines.
I love how the WaterTile shower head and body sprays can be so easily integrated into shower wall tile, the clean lines of the products' designs, and the wide range of finish options that are available, making it a great solution for many bath renovation or new construction projects.
I came across the Genuine Stone website
recently, a very nicely done website indeed - one that's owned by the Natural Stone Council, a collaboration between various business and trade associations that wish to promote natural stone for commercial and residential design and construction.
On its website, the council bills natural stone as an earth-friendly alternative to competing materials. But as with most everything when it comes to environmental sustainability, there are pros and cons to using natural stone products.
Let me first say that I absolutely LOVE granite and other natural stone surfaces!
While I marvel at the wonderful variety of options offered by all of the different types of natural stone and am amazed and inspired by the beauty of travertines and limestone, river bed granites, fossilized stone, and other natural stone products, I'm also greatly concerned about the environmental and local impact of granite mining around the world.
Once stone is in place, it's durability and permanent beauty is very evident. Just think of all of the enduring monuments and buildings throughout the world that are made of stone. With regard to permanence, stone is very sustainable. However, while the mining industry has made improvements in recent years, the mining and transportation of stone is generally not very environmentally friendly at all.
Issues include heavy water consumption, what happens to the mining site once the natural resources have been extracted from it, radon and other gaseous byproducts, and the use of heavy equipment for mining, processing and transportation.
One way to minimize the impact upon the environment when using natural stone is to use locally mined products. Not only does doing so minimize the impacts associated with transportation of the materials, but it also helps the local economy.
Another is to purchase products that come from mines where environmentally friendly practices are used. For example, refer to this Green Building Matters blog page
for an interesting and thoughtful discussion regarding the Cold Spring Granite mine in Minnesota and some of things Cold Spring is doing to minimize the impact upon our planet.
Many construction and renovation projects include fireplace surrounds, hearths and mantels. There are a tremendous number of wonderful options out there to dress up and finish the fireplace, including stone, tile, glass, concrete, and wood. During numerous home renovation projects, I've proposed revamping the fireplace area, and when I've done so, clients who thought that their current set-up was fixed or permanent usually get pretty excited about making a change or improvement.
Some great options for surrounds and hearths include marble, granite, limestone, slate, soapstone, brick, tile, concrete, and recycled glass. One of my current favorites is a stacked stone surround with a coordinating slate hearth, especially in casual settings. The stacked stone is reminiscent of exterior stone walls and provides a nice connection to the outdoors. It also relates well to earth tone color palettes. Stacked stone color options tie in with slate tile or slab options for hearths:
Glass or recycled glass used as a surround is heat resistant and creates a softly colored, translucent look that works well in seaside homes or contemporary settings where stone might look a bit heavy. Glass surrounds can be combined with tile or stone hearths, or glass can be used on the hearth as well. Studio G3
features glass as fireplace surrounds in several applications:
Mantels run from traditional to rustic to minimalist/modern and can be purchased pre-fabricated or custom-built to fit a specific application if desired. Wood mantels are generally traditional but can also be contemporary.
Limestone, marble, or cast stone mantels can create an old world, classic look, or can be streamlined for a more contemporary appearance.
Shelves above a fireplace and surround fit the bill if there is limited width and if a minimalistic or rustic look is desired. Custom cabinetry around a fireplace can also finish the look.
New construction projects and home renovation projects frequently include hardwood floors, and it seems that there are so many more wood flooring options out there now compared to 10 or 20 years ago! Traditionally, "site finished" projects would involve the selection of a wood species, a stain color, and a finish (typically, high gloss vs. satin).
It was fun to go to a job site, meet the old school flooring master, and mix up different colors of Minwax stains to arrive at a special, custom finish for a client's home. (Minwax
features a great range of stain colors to choose from and is a prominent industry standard for wood stains.) Between wood installation, sanding, staining and finishing, the whole process for site finished wood flooring can take several days.
Site finished floors are still a popular and reliable way to go, especially in traditional settings. Today, however, there are numerous selections available for designers and clients to consider. In addition to site finished hardwood flooring, options include:
Pre finished – Solid wood that is factory sanded, stained and finished, providing durability, consistency and ease of installation. Pre finished floors offer many options for texture and width, as well as stain color.
Engineered – Factory finished, constructed in ply fashion similar to that of common plywood with an actual hardwood veneer on the surface, commonly called the wear layer. The wear layer will offer options in wood type and stain/coloration, and can be sanded or refinished if thick enough.
Laminate – Economical option with a wide array of choices in terms of wood species representation and color. Laminate has come a long way!
Bamboo – Environmentally friendly, durable, with many options for products and installation.
Depending upon the setting, desired durability, and budget, terrific solutions can be found with each of the above flooring options.
Helpful resources for hardwood, laminate, and bamboo include:
Congratulations to Lillian August, who just opened a new 16,000 square foot store in Los Angeles, and with a new store in NYC's Flatiron District to open soon. Based in Norwalk, Connecticut, Lillian August's collections feature furniture, area rugs, accessories, fabrics and antiques. The in-house collections range from traditional, English styles to simple American farmhouse furnishings, and from contemporary European styles to Southeast Asian pieces. Lillian August stores also feature designer collections such as Barkley Butera, Mariette Himes Gomez and Thomas O'Brian, plus many, many more.
Lillian August's design career started with textile and wall covering collections, and in 1987, she opened her first store in Westport, Connecticut. With two sons, Dan and John Weiss, she built the Lillian August brand into what it is today. Another son, Michael, created the Michael Weiss line of home furnishings. Ms. August and her staff now now support her collections and stores, as well as design residential projects throughout the U.S.
The Lillian August stores provide retail, in-house design services, as well as "to the trade" services for architects and interior designers. I had the pleasure of hearing Lillian August speak at a gathering of designers recently, and her presentation was vibrant, informal and highly informative. Her passion for furniture, furnishings, her collections and chosen career was very evident.
Lillian August Notting Hill Collection
Lillian August Cottage Home Collection
Over 80 awards for top contract furnishing products were recently announced during NeoCon® 2010 in Chicago. It was the 21st year for the "Best of NeoCon" awards, co-sponsored this year by Contract magazine, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc., the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), and McMorrowReport.com.
Products were judged by a group of management executives from corporate, government and institutional facilities along with selected international designers and architects. The 45 jurors were split up into eight different teams, with each team visiting the product showrooms and market suites to view and judge the products in person. More than 325 products from a total of 39 different product categories were evaluated and judged.
This year's highly coveted Best of Competition award was given to Wilkhahn
, a German company, for their office seating technology which they call ON®
Five years in the making, the ON series 170 office chairs
utilize swivel points that precisely follow movements of the seated individual's knee and hip joint positions at any point in time, yielding what Wilkhahn describes as a "perfect and synchronous movement concept using innovative, synchro-supporting 3D kinematics".
On a recent visit to one of my stone and countertop suppliers, I started looking at some wonderful glass products that offer beautiful and environmentally friendly alternatives to stone. I specified Bio Glass for a kitchen and bar area countertop and adjacent family room fireplace surround in a seaside home in the color "Oriental Jade
," which picked up on the aqua color of the nearby ocean.
The unique, translucent qualities of Bio Glass are produced by recycling hollow glass, tableware and factory shards, and the results are reminiscent of sea glass.
The possibilities for kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops, shower seats, bar tops, and even walls and partitions are very exciting. The really wonderful thing about Bio Glass is that it offers a fresh and new approach for countertops and other surfaces.
Another product that offers recycled glass and great possibilities is Vetrazzo
, from a company named Polycor. With a great website and a story behind each product, the Vetrazzo line offers countertops and surfaces for residential and commercial use.
Vetrazzo uses 100% recycled glass - most of the glass used for Vetrazzo products comes from curbside recycling, and 85% of the finished product is made from the recycled glass (the other 15% being cement, additives and pigments). The product selection ranges from finely grained to "chippy".
My current favorite is "Charisma Blue with Patina," which is made from recycled beer, wine and soda bottles. The color descriptions for each variation are really fun to read, and are powerful reminders of how effective recycling can be.
Another company, Fireclay Tile
, offers products with recycled content. I particularly like their "Debris
" tile, which is fashioned from recycled glass bottles. The Debris series is available in more than 100 fantastic glaze colors and in several sizes, shapes, trims and decorative options. The company is also developing a countertop surface called "Bottlestone" with 80% post-consumer recycled glass content. "Bottlestone" looks like it will offer a fine-grained appearance (rather than chunks of glass) in four unique colors.
Yet another company, Stardust Glass
, offers tile with very high recycled glass content (87-97%), using pre-consumer recycled glass that is collected and harvested within 250-500 miles of the company's manufacturing facility that's located in Portland, Oregon.
With a wide variety of fun colors and shapes, Stardust offers some terrific ways to use tile in kitchen and bath design, as well as solutions for fireplace surrounds, floors, tiled walls and more. Commercial applications are highly possible as well, for interesting counter/service areas, funky commercial bathroom designs, and beautiful display areas.
The FSC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting responsible management of our world’s forests by offering certification for landowners and companies that purchase or sell timber or forest products to ensure that forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable way.
Independent, FSC-accredited certification organizations carry out assessments of forestry practices to determine whether FSC standards have been met. These certifiers also verify that companies claiming to sell FSC-certified products have tracked their supply back to FSC-certified sources.
Architects, builders and designers who purchase or specify building materials, furnishings, or paper or other products with an FSC label such as the one shown above can be confident that the products were harvested or manufactured using environmentally sustainable practices.
According to a recent study by The Freedonia Group
entitled Green Building Materials
, U.S. demand for green building materials will exceed $80B by 2013 and FSC-certified lumber and wood panels are expected to be the fastest growing green products, with demand more than tripling between 2008 and 2013.
The Forest Stewardship Council maintains a list of retailers who sell FSC-certified product on this page
where you can search for retailers or download an up-to-date PDF list of all retailers. Notable retailers on the list include Pottery Barn, Pier 1 Imports, Crate & Barrel, L.L. Bean, Williams Sonoma and Restoration Hardware. Buy Green! And remember, look for the FSC Seal!
One of my main goals for 2010 is to earn LEED "Green Associate" status and then LEED Accredited Professional
(AP) status in Interior Design and Construction (ID+C).
One can earn a Green Associate credential separately or in conjunction with a LEED AP exam, depending upon one's past experience on LEED registered projects.
There are three tiers to LEED Professional credentials: Green Associate, AP, and Fellow. The "Fellow" status criteria is currently under development, but will feature an elite group of professionals who are leaders in the field.
Green and sustainable design will remain on the forefront of the construction, architecture, and design industries. It seems that there is less hype about green design as it becomes more mainstream, and projects and building materials/products will continue to incorporate aspects of sustainablity in order to be relevant and to be viewed favorably.
A recent report
from Design Intelligence states that green and sustainable design has become "an integral aspect of good design". Indeed, focus upon good design often now starts with the use of environmentally sustainable practices and materials, and projects are evaluated equally for their "green-ness" and aesthetics.
I've already been working with a variety of environmentally sustainable products for several years now, but having a LEED accreditation can only help me with my design business.