Trends in Sourcing Materials

Insights, December 09, 2019 Trends in Sourcing Materials

As Designers and Trend Forecasters, we’re always looking forward. We are constantly sourcing materials not only for our clients but also for our studio, which is why we must have the experience with both a physical and digital material library to evaluate which tool is best for us to see a way forward and create the perfect solution. All of those samples and information get filed away into our in-house materials library. As we work on creating branded environments, presenting a tactile sample to show how it reflects light, for example, can be just as important as the rendering we’ve created to show the design. A well-organized resource library allows us to curate the right mix of products based on both their aesthetic appeal as well as their functional properties.

Although we have thousands of products in our library and access to thousands of other resources via digital mediums, there’s something to be said for going to a trade show. Traditionally, design trade shows were a great place to network, catch up with colleagues and hear some presentations. If you’ve never been to a trade show before, the experience can be a little overwhelming. Each vendor displays their products carefully curated within the footprint of their booth, but the show as a whole is not curated the same way, which can feel like visual overload. The best experience is to allow yourself to discover something new and unexpected. Walking a trade show floor in person is not an algorithm based on your search history. It’s a full sensory experience. With the customization of how we are exposed to information these days, trade shows allow designers to get the full experience of available products. At a trade show, you can evaluate hundreds of products that have a wide variety of price points, functionality and style. By seeing the materials in person, you can experience the finite details that you just can’t feel digitally.

At this year’s Boutique Design New York (BDNY) show, which is the leading trade fair and conference for the hospitality’s boutique and lifestyle segment, we appreciated how the technology of QR Codes have improved to allow for an elevated experience for the attendee. In one sense, it’s like speed dating! You pop into a booth and your badge is scanned. You look through, touch and feel the products and offerings, sit test furniture, chat with the reps, and then it’s on to the next! You don’t have to wait in line to try to get the latest brochure that you have to schlep with you for the rest of the day. By the time you get back to your hotel or back to your office, you’ll have an email from the exhibitor with a link to the brochures and other materials that you can peruse at your leisure.

Here’s a snapshot of common trends, style and color we identified, while walking BDNY this year.


Enough with the pastels, Bold it is!

Although neutrals paired with pastel colors created some sophisticated timeless palettes (and we love those), these energizing bold color palettes stood out and were refreshing and unexpected when paired with pastels or neutral materials.


Deco Galore

Deco is one of my favorite design styles so I naturally gravitate to it. These products shared a common thread of how manufactures are always reinterpreting this style. What’s new and fresh is the pattern scale combined with a touch of mid-century styling. The black and apricot color wall tile is a nice interpretation of the 4x4 tile one sees in homes across the country that were built in the 30’s and 50’s.


Artisanal Traditions

The reinterpretation and celebration of handmade manufacturing techniques interjected with technological manufacturing advances allows designers and craftsmen to push the boundaries of what we typically see with these timeless materials. For example, the use of a cane pattern as the glaze on subway tile or woven rugs that reflect an Ombre pattern.

The key take-away here is that trade shows are a great “old school” tool to use in identifying what common trends are influencing color, texture and form of the materials we specify. Looking forward to 2020’s trade show lineup.

Share This