Simplifying the Specification Process

August 11, 2021
Discovering Proper Uses of Commercial Finishes and Materials

Within my design passion comes a desire to learn about how spaces and their materiality affect people mentally, psychologically, physiologically, and emotionally. One of the initiatives toward my career goals is researching and distilling technical material knowledge so it is easily accessible to all designers.

 

I enjoy dissecting the details about products and learning how to properly use materials in my work. I believe having a thorough understanding and awareness of the technical side of specifying finishes and materials is incredibly important to being a great designer. In the spring of 2020, I completed a course called the Healthy Materials Lab through the Parsons School of Design, which opened my eyes to the importance of the specification process as a designer. We have the huge responsibility to design spaces that are healthy for both the occupants and the environment, while also balancing efficiency, budget, and beauty.

 

 

When I first started in the interior design industry in 2015, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information interior designers are expected to learn and acquire over time, and I didn’t want to wait for that to come through my experience on the job. I desired a central resource for information, a “go-to” for all the questions I had about various finishes, to design my projects right the first time. After all, interior designers are jacks-of-all-materials, and with new and innovative products being introduced all the time, it can be difficult to keep up with the knowledge, even with the help of our wonderful product reps.

 

I attempted my version of data collection through lunch-and-learns and personal research, scribbled across multiple notebooks, and documented in digital files, but never succeeded in one place. The peer culture of my design studios in architecture school was extremely positive and supportive, which unfortunately isn’t always the case, never leaving a fellow studio-mate behind to get ahead yourself. I wanted to carry that same outlook into my career by sharing knowledge to help us all improve.

 

In entering the industry, the structure of learning about commercial products consisted of lunch-and-learns, NeoCon, on-the-job experience, and research on your own time. In a time where crowdsourcing information is the norm, the processes of ordering material samples and learning about products were challenging and out of date. I often asked myself: “Hasn’t this question been asked before?” and “Why isn’t this information easier to find?”

 

When Ankrom Moisan moved into our new Portland office in Old Town, our designers had access to a new, state-of-the-art material library run by our dedicated librarian and researcher, Erica Buss. While this was an immense improvement from our situation in the previous office, there was still the missing piece of how to use these materials successfully. When should I use resilient flooring over carpet? What is the difference between these three textile options? How will this countertop perform over this other material? There was crowdsourcing between designers through our office messaging apps, but sometimes you just need a thorough overview of all the important factors in specifying.

 

In January 2021, I was approached by Nicole Schmidt, the CEO of Source, to write blog articles detailing the important aspects to successfully specify various commercial finishes and materials. It felt like this gig was made for me. What I appreciate about the vision of this resource is the articles are meant to be informative, succinct, and easy to read for any level of design experience. I incorporate multiple perspectives by interviewing different manufacturer representatives for each product type, so there is a holistic and comprehensive overview. I ask reps to clarify common misconceptions and mistakes made by designers and recommended solutions, for any sustainable alternatives or aspects to consider, regarding the longevity of a product (and thus keeping it out of the landfill for longer).  I include any lesser-known “tricks of the trade,” such as the Coffee Spill Test coined by fellow AM interior designer Roberta Pennington to test coffee spill visibility on carpet samples. Source has other resources available to designers, such as material cost estimates to assist designers with their project budget constraints, and a central material library with dedicated researchers.

 

Keep your eye out for my next post, where I dive into a few recent projects and the stories behind the finish palettes.

 

 

Maddy Gorman is a certified Interior Designer specializing in Workplace design, based in our Portland office since 2015. In her free time, she enjoys elements of discovery whether that is in nature, finding new delicious food combinations, uncovering patterns and stories through Tarot, exploring inward while lying still in a float tank, or traveling the world.

CULTURE
Better Together
Every year, around this time, we gather as a firm and celebrate design. It’s like an Ankrom Moisan holiday. A week-long tradition we’ve all...
Every year, around this time, we gather as a firm and celebrate design....
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
Bringing Bigger Buildings to Smaller Jurisdictions
Over the last several years, more demand in smaller markets has resulted in increased proposals for larger scale...
Over the last several years, more demand in...
ARCHITECTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
An Integrated Approach to Revolutionary Healthcare Design
Population health relies on more than simply treating sickness. Leading a healthcare shift to a value-based model whose viability depends on...
Population health relies on more than simply treating sickness. Leading...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Wynne Watts Commons
It is undeniable that housing insecurity affects millions across the United States. Rents are up and homelessness is on the rise. There are many...
It is undeniable that housing insecurity affects millions across the...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
Employee Spotlight: Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin
Empathetic, balanced, and calm—three words you’ll hear from Jennifer Sobieraj Sanin’s team if you ask them to describe her...
Empathetic, balanced, and calm—three words you’ll hear from...
ARCHITECTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
WORKPLACE
Mass Timber: Harder Mechanical
Located along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the historic Elliott neighborhood, known for its brick buildings and early 20th Century...
Located along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the historic Elliott...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
WORKPLACE
Mass Timber: Moda Tower Lobby
For our first mass-timber curtain wall in Portland’s ...
For our first mass-timber curtain wall in Portland’s ...
ARCHITECTURE
OFFICE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Mass Timber: Skylight
Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District is poised to transform its character and vibrancy. Designed to capture and elevate...
Portland’s Central Eastside Industrial District is poised...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
URBAN LIVING
Mass Timber: The Standard at Seattle
With study spaces for every occasion, social areas, luxurious amenities, and ground floor retail just blocks from campus, ...
With study spaces for every occasion, social areas, luxurious...
CULTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Spotlight: Intern Jules Stafford
Q: Tell us what you learned through your summer internship at Ankrom Moisan.   A: This...
Q: Tell us what you learned through your summer internship at...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Mass Timber in the Office
Intro It is a challenge right now for employers everywhere to get people into the office. It has us rethinking ways to encourage people...
Intro It is a challenge right now for employers everywhere to...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
Employee Spotlight: Ryan Miyahira
Ankrom Moisan Managing Principal Ryan Miyahira recently hosted AM’s second annual Pickathon, a video showcase of the firm’s many talented...
Ankrom Moisan Managing Principal Ryan Miyahira recently hosted AM’s...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
Virtual Reality
Our incredible in-house visualization team is testing out some VR upgrades! Virtual reality has proven to be a valuable design tool for our teams...
Our incredible in-house visualization team is testing out some VR...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Employee Spotlight: Lori Kellow
Lori Kellow, Ankrom Moisan’s longest standing employee, has been with the firm since 1985. After a nearly 37-year tenure, Lori has a uniquely...
Lori Kellow, Ankrom Moisan’s longest standing employee, has been with...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
Project Pin-ups
In pursuit of the best solutions, we create opportunities for collaboration.   After all this time meeting and sharing ideas...
In pursuit of the best solutions, we create opportunities for...
CULTURE
Ankrom Moisan’s Community Service
Old Town Cleanup Community Service, Ankrom Moisan Represents!   Many of our employees provide valuable time, skills and efforts...
Old Town Cleanup Community Service, Ankrom Moisan...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
WORKPLACE
Celebrating Earth Day
Our Workplace Design Team is highlighting our integration of salvaged products and materials to celebrate Earth Day! We intentionally source and...
Our Workplace Design Team is highlighting our integration of salvaged...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Interior Design Camp
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career in interior design is sharing it with young people. Many years ago, when my, now, college-age...
One of the most rewarding aspects of my career in interior design is...
CULTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Sustainability & Ankrom Moisan Interiors
Q: What efforts are Ankrom Moisan making to provide better information and resources when it comes to...
Q: What efforts are Ankrom Moisan making to provide better...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Designing for Inclusivity
Designing for inclusivity is something that is always on interior designers’ radar.  ADA regulations instituted in 1990 blossomed into the...
Designing for inclusivity is something that is always on interior...
ARCHITECTURE
CULTURE
Employee Spotlight: Keith Larson
Did you know Ankrom Moisan has an in-house model maker?   Meet Keith Larson. While he’s been working as a professional...
Did you know Ankrom Moisan has an in-house model...
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
URBAN LIVING
Convenience Factor
The new standard is that services, products, and conveniences are available to people in a matter of minutes. Residents demand their communities...
The new standard is that services, products, and conveniences are...
ARCHITECTURE
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Insights from the Advancing Mass Timber Construction Conference
Mass timber technology continues to develop rapidly as more and more projects seek to implement this beautiful, sustainable, and durable material....
Mass timber technology continues to develop rapidly as more and more...
ARCHITECTURE
INTERIOR DESIGN
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
What We Do
Bringing together cross-sector expertise, we are passionate designers driven to continuously elevate the end goal: integrated environments that...
Bringing together cross-sector expertise, we are passionate designers...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Project Materials Spotlight
A trend our workplace team has been observing lately: landlords are considering their tenants more like customers and creating spaces as a...
A trend our workplace team has been observing lately: landlords are...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Office Design that Supports Employees Holistically
With more employers offering the ability to work from home—and ...
With more employers offering the ability to work from home—and ...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Lifestyle Experiences at Work
Natural light. Fresh air. Lush greenery. Hospitality-inspired amenities. Companies want to give employees a lifestyle package that makes people...
Natural light. Fresh air. Lush greenery. Hospitality-inspired...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Technology-Rich Workplaces
Before the pandemic, relaxing with coworkers in the office breakroom or preparing meals in the communal kitchen were typical, stress-free, even...
Before the pandemic, relaxing with coworkers in the office breakroom or...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Simplifying the Specification Process
Within my design passion comes a desire to learn about how spaces and their materiality affect people mentally, psychologically, physiologically,...
Within my design passion comes a desire to learn about how spaces and...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Comfort
Our homes should be comfortable, should rejuvenate us, and they can make or break our capacity for resiliency. Designing for comfort goes far...
Our homes should be comfortable, should rejuvenate us, and they can...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Discovering a Love for Design
This is a familiar story for many interior designers. I wanted to be an interior designer since I was in grade school; the signs were there from...
This is a familiar story for many interior designers. I wanted to be an...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Symbiotic Communities
Before the pandemic, it was common for businesses and office workers to have an insulated experience within the...
Before the pandemic, it was common for...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
What’s Next for the Workplace?
What will it take to revive central business districts across the US? What role will your workplace play in this recovery?  What makes a...
What will it take to revive central business districts across the US?...
HOUSING
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Looking Ahead
Ankrom Moisan’s Jeremy Southerland, Alissa Brandt, and Chris Ebert led a presentation ...
Ankrom Moisan’s Jeremy Southerland, Alissa...
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
URBAN LIVING
Multi-Faceted Life
Apartment buildings are micro-neighborhoods, offering residents opportunities to connect to the community around them. And as individual unit...
Apartment buildings are micro-neighborhoods, offering residents...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Fitness
The connections between exercise and overall wellness are well established—but how can we, as designers, create senior communities that...
The connections between exercise and overall wellness are well...
ARCHITECTURE
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Light
With access to natural daylight, we’re sharper and happier during the day, we sleep better at night, and we recovery faster when we’re sick....
With access to natural daylight, we’re sharper and happier during the...
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
URBAN LIVING
Adaptive Living
There’s a new focus on the changing needs of residents in an evolving world. Future-ready units with practical and customizable features will...
There’s a new focus on the changing needs of residents in an evolving...
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
URBAN LIVING
Leading the Evolving Market
As people adapt to the shocks of the pandemic, multi-family communities are responding to the long-term shifts in residents’ daily...
As people adapt to the shocks of the pandemic, multi-family communities...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Vitality in the Village
Understanding the connection between a well-designed community and people’s overall resilience and health, our campus master plan for Mary’s...
Understanding the connection between a well-designed community and...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Air
Fresh air and wellness are intrinsically connected. With ready access to fresh air, people are more alert, physically healthier, able to heal...
Fresh air and wellness are intrinsically connected. With ready access...
HOUSING
INTERIOR DESIGN
URBAN LIVING
[Home]Work
With the rapid acceptance of remote work, we are examining how residents’ needs are changing in multifamily communities. Building amenities...
With the rapid acceptance of remote work, we are examining how...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Re-Connect
What is the purpose of the office now? And in the future? To answer these questions, we surveyed nearly 400 people from various industries and...
What is the purpose of the office now? And in the future? To answer...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
The New Suburban Office
Natural ventilation and access to fresh air are priorities for post-pandemic office spaces. With people’s growing interest in shorter commutes,...
Natural ventilation and access to fresh air are priorities for...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Evolution of Office Amenities Q&A
COVID-19’s influence on the future of office space is one of the real estate industry’s million-dollar questions today. With many employees...
COVID-19’s influence on the future of office space is one of the real...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
Feasibility Studies
We conduct site feasibility studies for our clients, which are divided into three tiers. From Tier 1 to Tier 3, each tier deals with increasing...
We conduct site feasibility studies for our clients, which are divided...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
SENIOR COMMUNITIES
SUSTAINABILITY & WELLNESS
Nourishment
Sharing meals is essential to people’s social and emotional wellness. Our insights support safer communal meals in senior living campuses that...
Sharing meals is essential to people’s social and emotional wellness....
CULTURE
AM Design Week 2020
For Seattle Design Festival’s 10th anniversary in August, 2020, our Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco offices celebrated Design Week...
For Seattle Design Festival’s 10th anniversary in August, 2020, our...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Re-New
Our wellness solutions are realistic and evidence-based. By investigating how the coronavirus affects workplace design, setting clear outcomes,...
Our wellness solutions are realistic and evidence-based. By...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
Apartment Innovation Insights
After interviewing hundreds of apartment residents, we distilled their responses and refined our observations into practical design...
After interviewing hundreds of apartment residents, we distilled their...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Re-Entry
Ankrom Moisan has spent decades designing healthy, empowering workplaces. Working quickly and cost-effectively, we design and implement strategies...
Ankrom Moisan has spent decades designing healthy, empowering...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Re-Imagine
Our own reentry strategy for 38 Davis, Ankrom Moisan’s Portland headquarters, puts our design insights into practice. Discover how we...
Our own reentry strategy for 38 Davis, Ankrom Moisan’s Portland...
INTERIOR DESIGN
OFFICE
WORKPLACE
Re-Set
We surveyed 300+ people about returning to the office, and their responses were loud and clear. A holistic, employee-centered approach is...
We surveyed 300+ people about returning to the office, and their...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
High-Rise Design
Download our latest lookbook on urban high-rise design.   ...
Download our latest lookbook on urban high-rise...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
Design for Living: Mid-Rise
Download our inspiring 2020 lookbook on mid-rise living.   ...
Download our inspiring 2020 lookbook on mid-rise...
ARCHITECTURE
HOUSING
Apartment Innovation Survey
Our survey, conducted from May 28 through June 17, 2020, yielded over 400 responses and 1,635 written comments about apartment living...
Our survey, conducted from May 28 through June 17, 2020, yielded over...