Cutting Edge Materials for Retail and Corporate Interiors
When designing corporate or retail interiors, the goal is to create a space that both reflects the personality of the company and serves a particular function. One without the other is not good design. Recently there have been numerous products entering the marketplace that are functional but have unusual properties that make them unique. Below are a few that we think would create unique and beautiful interiors.
Light Transmitting Concrete and Wood
Concrete is a popular choice for construction; it’s sturdy, adaptable and inexpensive. But it can look weighty and make a space feel small and cold. LiTraCon has developed an astounding material that combines poured concrete with optical fibers creating solid blocks that can transmit light. The resulting effect can be either static or moving.
Because the fibers are so thin they do not affect the structural integrity of the blocks so the applications for retail and corporate interiors are many. Still or animated images could be projected onto a floor from below, eliminating the shadows created by people and objects when projected from above. The movement of people behind a wall would create beautiful patterns of shadows.
For a more elegant and refined look, Luminoso is using similar technology to create wood panels. Fiber optics are embedded between layers of solid wood giving a subtle striped appearance. The panels operate in the same way as the concrete blocks, transmitting whatever light is on the other side. The resulting panels can be used for walls, furniture or anything else constructed from wood.
Glass is a necessary material for almost any interior. It allows light to pass, does not obscure sight lines and presents a physical barrier to noise, the elements, and other people. The transparency of glass is a big part of its appeal but can be an issue when privacy is a concern. Smart glass, a liquid crystal membrane sandwiched between glass panes, can address this problem. At the click of a remote, the glass transforms from crystal clear to opaque.
It is easy to see how this material could be used in both retail interiors and corporate interiors. A conference room can share its great view with the whole office until privacy is needed. Fitting rooms can go opaque when in use but transparent when not, eliminating the need to knock on the door to see if it is occupied. By turning the transparency of panels on and off, displays can be highlighted. And a pattern of transparency changes would make for an eye-catching window.
Temperature Sensitive Tiles
Like a mood ring for your room, temperature sensitive tiles respond to fluctuations in temperature by changing color. Available in both glass and ceramic, they can be used as accents or to create an entire surface that reacts to heat.
The organic nature of the change when caused by ambient temperature is beautiful and will always be different. Additionally, color change can be caused by direct application of heat by touch or light sources allowing for creation of patterns or images.
Color changing, heat activated paint is also available but is better suited to individual objects than for an entire wall as it’s effect is more subtle. It can also be used to add details to a wall that appear during the day and disappear at night or when the temperature drops.
Although designed for pathways, Starpath from Pro-Teq is a spray on coating that can be used on concrete, wood or any hard surface. It absorbs light during the day and releases it at night creating a glowing effect that looks like a field of stars.
The added benefit is energy savings. It reduces the need for emergency lighting in office spaces and can create incredible nighttime effects in a retail store.
This sample of the innovative materials available gives an idea of how few limits there are to creativity in design. It takes an experienced team to utilize the newest materials to deliver cutting-edge but functional interiors. To talk with one of our experts about creating the ideal corporate or retail interior, contact us.