Show Stopper

Submitted by Annette M. Callari, A.S.I.D.; CMG

logoOctober 14, 2009 marked the date for the American Society of Interior Designers annual tradeshow here in Southern California.  Attending that show as a professional designer is always reenergizing–discovering innovative products that can (and do) stop you in your tracks!  The show is open only to ASID designers and student chapter members, but I can certainly share some of the highlights with you.  

When you think of quartz countertop materials, you most likely envision something quietly elegant, with the Silestone®, Cambria®, Caesarstone® or Zodiaq® name on it.  All of these are well-known brands that create surfaces from quartz aggregates and polyester binders.  They are beautiful, functional, and timeless. Did you know that natural quartz happens to be one of the hardest, most abundant minerals found in nature?  Only diamonds, sapphires, and topaz are harder!  This accounts for quartz products being highly scratch resistant, but still, be sure to use cutting boards when slicing on quartz surfaces.  Another strongpoint of quartz counters would be the consistency of color.  Manufacturers offer a well-rounded palette of colors that showcase the light-reflective brilliance of natural quartz.  And–these surfaces are non-porous and resist staining, so no sealing is required.

So what can I possibly tell you that would be news in the world of quartz?  I can tell you that one manufacturer featured at this tradeshow—Compac® Quartz USA— has teamed up with a world-renowned artist, Karim Rashid, to create a signature line of quartz countertop products that are—without exaggeration– a work of art.  Karim Rashid is well known for his creative product designs, as well as his designs in fashion, furniture and contributions to the world of art.  He has designed for Shiseido, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Armani, Carolina Herrera, and now Compac!  So, what sets his collection apart?  COLOR!  Expect the unexpected.  Rashid’s brilliant contemporary color line features a stunning fuscia red, a glitterati silver (sparkling with shards of quartz); two refreshing water-toned blues; Lila–a deep violet; Musaka–a port wine color; Absolute Blanc—a creamy neutral, and (hold on to your hats) flamingo pink and lime green!  Not exactly what you would expect for countertop choices, and all the more reason designers were captivated. Strong, bold, breathtaking and unexpected–all of those adjectives readily apply to this artisan-inspired collection.  If your personality matches that description, here’s the countertop for you.  Find out more about these focal point quartz products at  Click on Quartz Compac/Color Palette/Karim to view the color line.

(Note of interest—most of these new colors are reflective of the 2010 home interiors color trends forecast published at Designer’s Corner” 8/18/09. Be sure to check it out.)

Floors With A Barrel Of Charm

By Annette M. Callari, ASID; CMG

armstrongEvery now and then something comes along in the world of floor coverings that really stirs up some hefty design waves.  I think Armstrong Floors has done just that with the introduction of their Barrel Creek hardwood floor collection.   It’s so gratifying to discover something unique and full of personality, and Barrel Creek fits the bill on both those counts.

Picture rolling hills covered with ripe, manicured vineyards.  You could be in Napa Valley or even the south of France.  Of course you visualize wineries stocked with miles of seasoned oak wine barrels, right?  Well, interior designers seem to be having an on-going love affair with a charming, vintage design style that embraces all the accoutrements of winemaking. Everything from vine-covered upholstery fabrics to furniture pieces fabricated right from wine barrels!  Now Armstrong Floors has taken that inspired styling a step further.  Imagine solid strips of premium rift and quartered oak (the very same material coopers use to make fine wine barrels) now crafted into beautiful hardwood floors.  According to Armstrong’s marketing announcements, “…these floors have been painstakingly reconstructed to reflect every detail of original barrel floors, complete with Vintner’s marks burned into random strips, and authentic cooperage stamps.”  I would say that these floors do tell a story, and in your home have the power to become a focal point and an amazing underscore to authentic vintage design.

There are three color offerings in this collection:  Vintner Cellar, Aged Oak, and Winemaker Harvest.  Each of these colorways features a blend of high-contrast, 2-1/4” oak boards to create an authentic look.  Then the manufacturer applies a deep color wash to enhance the grain and give the wood an aged appearance. This technique gives birth to a perfect harmony of color and texture and, in essence, produces a three-dimensional look.  Finally, a high-quality urethane finish is applied to protect the floor and make it functional as well as beautiful. (Armstrong provides a 25-Year Residential Warranty for these solid hardwood floors.) The end result is a hardwood floor that speaks volumes!

So if your design aspirations include capturing the whimsy of wine country, make it a point to research the Barrel Creek Collection by Armstrong.  Whether you are creating a wine cellar of your own, or a vintage kitchen or family room design, these floors are versatile and unforgettable. You will find yourself seeking out the Vintner’s markings and enjoying the sense of history Barrel Creek floors seem to inspire.  Armstrong deserves kudos for their creativity and “next generation” thinking.  When you blend history with new-age performance, you are bound to come up with a product that exceeds expectations, and that is exactly what they have done.