In the summer issue of Surface & Panel magazine, “Small Thinking for Big Benefits: Retail of the Now” touched on B+N Industries’ Iconic series, a line of routed MDF panels featuring 3D relief patterns available in various designs and finishes, including 3D laminates. To infuse excitement into retail environments and give brand identity for a fresh aesthetic, the company manufactures coordinating store fixtures. Complementing the use of no-added urea formaldehyde MDF, B+N’s new line of Reclaimed Wood Iconic panels (above) offer an aire of sustainability.
More and more, manufacturers and distributors of decorative composite wall panels offer substrates that meet CARB regulations, offer LEED credit and qualify as low-emitting. For example, Art Diffusion panels by Interlam (below) are available with Arreis Sustainable Design Fiberboard (SDF) by SierraPine, an MDF variety with 100-percent recycled wood fiber and a formaldehyde-free adhesive system as well as third-party EPP and SCS certification.
The “sustainable value message today’s consumers seek” detailed in “Small Thinking ...” goes beyond shoppers’ perceptions when building materials affect a retailer’s bottom line. Value is a top priority and, “Consumers can read the environmental story through the design,” says Nancy Jackson, president of Architectural Systems, Inc. (ASI), who founded the company with her husband, CEO Ronald Jackson, in 1990. To that end, ASI, a New York-based, global distributor of architectural materials, markets a low-emitting, “green” Sculptured™ panel collection that is a value-engineered alternative to dimensional wood veneer panels.
“Developing a product that protects the design intent and fulfills sustainable criteria, all while being sensitive to budget is a challenge we meet every day,” says Jackson. A case study example of ASI’s value-engineering capabilities lies in the lobby and elevator banks of the Theatre Row Apartment Tower in Times Square (left), where a dramatic Sculptured™ MDF panel -- installed at a third of the price of the carved wood veneer panel the architect originally specified -- was stained to match the color of the natural wood grain.
ASI was the first to offer its private-labeled Sculptured™ collection to the North American market in the late 1990s, when it became the agent for a European, fifth-generation veneer house that provided sophisticated finishing capabilities, including metallics, pearlescents and suede finishes applied on MDF panels at the factory.
“Prior to ASI displaying those panels in our showroom, the only architects who had seen anything like this were the ones who had been to the Phillipe Starck-designed restaurant in the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong,” says Jackson. “We were excited to bring this product to the United States, knowing it would resonate with designers across all market segments. Today, design professionals can specify MDF primed for painting, prefinished or unfinished. ASI has answered the demand for a sustainable and cost-effective solution, meeting guidelines for budgets and green initiatives.”
Jackson says the future of what’s next in this type of material includes Lamellux, a unique wood/resin panel which will be offered exclusively through ASI. This specialty product is highly customizable, integrating colored resins and varied wood species and can be incorporated with LED lighting for an enhanced luminescent effect.
ASI’s recent projects incorporating Sculptured™ panels include the lobby of Playboy Enterprises Corporate offices (below), Univision Television Studios and Wachovia Bank.
This type of product's versatility allows it to take on the personality of the project, reinforcing the design vision. These installations and other routed MDF wall systems demonstrate the architect and design community’s increasing requests for dimensional and textured materials that provide the sustainable intent and focal feature elements.
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