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How Architectural Finishes Inspire Open Ended Thinking

By April 7, 20223M DI-NOC
Architecture Finishes

Written by NGS’ guest blogger, Brent Williams.

Coming from a creative design background, my favorite phrase to hate is “…but we’ve ALWAYS done it that way”. That painful set of words is indicative of a closed-minded, traditional way of thinking.

But the way we’ve always done things is changing. On one hand, humans are genetically wired to be in a constant state of evolution. On the other hand, humans fiercely hold on to “the way we’ve always done it” because it’s the safe, comfortable, and least risky path.

But the fact of the matter is… we’ve reached a point as a society, where we must change the way we do things or we are going to risk irreparable damage to the environment.

Natural Resources

Historically, our culture has always had a strong appreciation for the earth’s natural resources. The design community has always loved the timeless look of natural stone finishes like granite, quartz, and marble. Unfortunately, quarries are not bottomless. Once we’ve depleted any one of our natural resources, there will be no more. Now add to that tragedy the filling of landfills with scrapped stone and wood elements that could have remained in place, yet refinished. There is a simple, clean and efficient solution to prevent the deterioration of these natural resources.

As time passes in the design world, fresh creative concepts and looks continually evolve. Finishes like green marble, so popular during the eighties, suddenly look dated. Tenants can demand an upgrade. Removing the stunning natural stone from surfaces almost always means destroying it during demolition. To add to this transgression, we then send it off to the nearest landfill to waste precious space there. But what if you could simply leave that beautiful, yet outdated, natural resource in place instead of resorting to destroying it? Using existing stone, wood, or other natural finishes as the base for a redesign isn’t just cost-effective, it is also environmentally responsible.

Renovations with architectural finishes

As designers, we simply need to change the paradigm a bit. There is more to consider in a redesign than just aesthetics. Destroying materials and elements, the cost of manpower, lost income from closures, noise pollution, and the flooding of landfills all weigh in. These issues make renovation more complex, troublesome, and costly.

Renovation is no longer about the pure aesthetic or profit margin alone. We are now realizing that it is ethically and morally wrong to do things the way we’ve always done them.

Our myriad architectural finishes afford clients innumerable options that are permanent, yet easily and rapidly removable. This means that the life-cycle costs can now be considered holistic sustainability. If in ten years you decide to opt-in to a new design, you have options. You can simply remove the film, exposing the original finish. In addition, you can add an entirely new finish directly over the previous finish.

For example, if the earlier mentioned green marble makes a comeback, you can remove the architectural finish, clean the marble, and you have a true stone finish at pennies per square foot.

Life-cycle costs

Moving forward, calculating true life-cycle costs will become the norm. It isn’t just about the costs of construction materials upfront. Instead, the priority will be how care and removal affect the future use of all surface finishes when redesigning commercial spaces.

It’s important to remember that rapidly refinished surfaces are equal to or better than the original surfaces in many ways. 3M™ architectural finishes are far more durable than leather or suede, and far easier to clean. When considering the stone or wood grain options, remember they maintain their finish without requiring an ongoing plan of care.

Flexible finishing is a radically different approach to redesign, one that has more and more clients asking their designers “how can we?” As a culture we are also learning that to “environmentally re-purpose” isn’t just a trend. Ongoing sustainability is a way for the earth to provide for all of us long after we are gone.

Open-Ended Thinking in the Real World

Curious how 3M™ DI-NOC™ is being used in the real world? Watch our webinar to hear first-hand how Marco Arroyo, Senior Director of Store Planning, Design, and Construction at Guess?, is adopting open-ended thinking and using 3M™ DI-NOC to refresh and revitalize their store interiors.


Photo by Alex wong on Unsplash

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