One of the five Factors of our Strategic Branded Experience Framework is Sustainability. In this issue, our interiors expert, Andrea Woelkers Giglio, writes the story reminding us that innovation comes from unexpected places and that many materials are now being reincarnated to have another useful life. Once forgotten and labeled as waste for the landfill, now these materials have been repurposed to add function, richness and beauty to our lives.

“Resources are never the problem; it’s the lack of resourcefulness.” Tony Robbins made this statement to a crowd of followers regarding one’s success in life, but it can directly apply to a multitude of different genres; one in particular being building materials. Choosing building materials has evolved far beyond pure aesthetics. It is now the standard of the interior design and architecture communities to incorporate consciousness into their selections. When we say “consciousness” we’re referring to the need to be aware of where it comes from, how it’s made, where it will end up and its ultimate effect on our health and well-being as a society. With newly innovative and beautiful recycled products coming into the market every day, specifying them is easier than it sounds.

Over the last decade, scientists, engineers, designers and other innovative thinkers have developed exciting new building materials that have changed the way we look at resources. For instance, recycled denim is now being used as building insulation. A company called UltraTouch has developed old blue jeans into a sounds absorptive and thermally insulating material without chemical irritants, VOC or scary warning labels on the packaging. It is resistant to mold, fungi and bacteria, improving overall indoor air quality. In fact, indoor air quality can be up to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air quality, so every little bit matters. The product is also constructed of around 80% post-consumer recycled material, providing a breath of new life into our once outdated flare fit styled denim.


Many innovative ways to use recycled materials have been explored recently by tile manufacturers. A company called Image Tile has created a unique tile from old skateboards. Used in restaurants, bars, retail shops, homes and beyond, this product adds an interesting and dynamic aspect to an interior. Crossville, a manufacturer we specify throughout different projects, uses recycled Toto toilets as their porcelain tile. In fact, they are the first net consumer, meaning they recycle more than they produce. Since they began their recycling efforts, they have recycled over 24 million pounds of porcelain! These are just two examples in the vast and expanding market of building materials that reinvents overlooked items and eliminates millions of pounds of waste in landfills.

Innovation doesn’t stop at the threshold of our homes and businesses; it extends out into the built environment in our communities. For those of us who have endured this Northeastern Pennsylvania winter, you probably have been inconvenienced more than once by the treacherous road conditions. You may also be interested to learn that plasphalt is on the rise. It is asphalt made from plastic waste. It lasts longer than traditional roads, eliminating stripping and the dreaded potholes! It not only provides less expensive asphalt materials, but it also gives use to plastic waste. In the photo above, the right side of the road is traditional asphalt. The left is plasphalt. Exposed to the same exact conditions and wear, the plasphalt simply held up better.
The bottom line with all of these products is that building materials have evolved exponentially, giving new life to forgotten items. Practicality, functionality, aesthetics and consciousness are being combined and developed to create exciting advancements in the spec. world! Who knows what type of innovation will result from the next resourceful generation!