Five New Generation Materials in the Upscale Market

By Alene Workman / Published by Dwell
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A creative imagination is a key ingredient in timeless, luxury designs. Clients are often seeking surprises in design, like furniture as art. A good interior designer will look for the newest and most advanced products and materials to incorporate into projects to make the unexpected happen. Today there are some truly innovative changes with materials, their use and application, which are impacting the luxury market. Herewith, a few of these exciting new materials and finishes that have been popping up.

1. The world of available leathers is expanding. Today, there are new stitched and bonded salmon skin leathers in an array of colors and other fish skins coming out of a company in Iceland called Arctic. Think about the use of ostrich feet leather, or salmon skin products. These are expertly made and shipped from a new company in Dallas, Texas called Heritage Leatherworks.

2. "Ombre," from the French word to shade, is a hip international hair coloring process and a technique found in some fabrics for hand-dyed designer clothing, offering a soft color gradation of a single tone or shading from dark to light. That effect is now happening in furniture finishes. Take a look at the new patented "ombre" finish group from J Robert Scott. It is truly beautiful and unique.

3. The design world is also seeing newly minted applications of "bling" and shine—in other words, metallics in everything from rugs to fabrics to wallpapers to to concrete. How about wallpaper with sequins from JAB fabrics? Look for wall coverings, or a translucent metal textile woven on looms, for wall and furniture. For metallics incorporated expertly into rugs, check out the Rodeo Collection, a division of Stark Carpet. Many of the custom Rodeo carpets and rug products are still USA made.

4. Innovation is also happening in new product drapery fabrics that offer backing with solar protection from the Swiss company Creation Baumann with stainless steel mesh. With a product such as this, you can cover the windows with one layer of elegant drapery that still offers heat and sun protection.

5. This is amazing: There is now wallpaper that can be applied with magnets. It’s a non-glue application and is removable. That would certainly be useful and create less mess during installation and offer easy changeability.

This movement for exploration into new materials developed from new technology, sometimes using traditional materials, is strong. There are many more new generation developments that will impact the luxury market in lighting, glass, wood, coatings and lightweight everything. New materials and their finishing technology are opening up doors for designers to create the truly unique interior.

Alene Workman


Alene Workman is an interior designer nationally recognized for her luxury residential and corporate interiors. She works in a variety of styles, favoring clean lined, sophisticated designs. Workman has been actively involved in her community as well as playing a major leadership role in the design profession as a Fellow of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and a national spokesperson to the media for the American Society of Interior Designers. She writes and speaks on design issues, has hosted educational seminars and is a past National Director of the organization and a Florida Chapter President. She is one of 200 Fellows of the 34,000 member organization.

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