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When architecture and interior design firms audit the use of space in their own work environments, the towers of material samples stacked atop (and under) desks are a chronic culprit of clutter, making for inefficient – and unpleasant – offices. While designers are re-thinking their offices with more streamlined product libraries, the sourcing and delivery of material samples is undergoing a more drastic revolution. Enter Material Bank.

It all starts online. An exhaustingly comprehensive but easily searchable database, Material Bank’s free service – which is now available in Canada – connects designers with a powerful set of tools. The site offers detailed product information from over 230 manufacturers and on hundreds of thousands of materials, along with robust filters to refine results into a manageable selection. From there, a material sample is a click away.

A mock-up of the Material Bank online filtering process

While the online database provides an industry-leading starting point for product research, the efficiency – and sustainability – of sample delivery also lends Material Bank an unparalleled advantage. Swatches from multiple brands are combined into a single box and shipped overnight to arrive the next morning. They are packaged in reusable boxes, free of excess wrapping; unneeded products can be returned for reuse to Material Bank’s central facility.

Inside the Material Bank logistics hub.
Inside the Material Bank logistics hub.

The system does away with both waste and clutter, giving individual samples prolonged use while eliminating the piles of materials that can quickly overwhelm workstations and product libraries – or end up in landfills. For designers, Material Bank’s rigorously streamlined approach to material specification also means a mitigated carbon footprint.

“Boxes upon boxes of architectural and interior samples arrive in our office daily,” says Chelsey Atkins, a LEED Green Associate and interior designer with Strada Architecture in Pittsburgh. By contrast, Material Bank’s slim and durable parcels – complete with the option of pre-paid return packs – allow samples to be reused with minimal waste and packaging. In 2019 alone, the company’s aggregated orders saved the shipment of over 200,000 unnecessary packages, with samples across hundreds of brands arriving from one location. 

It’s a deceptively simple approach. According to Material Bank founder and CEO Adam Sandow, the innovative service was built on two years of meticulous research and development. The results paid off. Today, Material Bank reclaims more samples than any other company in the industry.

Now boasting more than 25,000 vetted and approved design professionals as members, as well as over 230 brand partners, Material Bank has emerged as a leader in material specification – and not a moment too soon. As sustainability continues to become a more urgent priority for designers, why not start with the design process itself?

This content was published by Azure on behalf of Material Bank. Click here to learn more about this ground-breaking platform.

Material Bank is Revolutionizing the Sampling Process

Eliminating waste and clutter, the innovative service – now available in Canada – offers designers an easier and more sustainable approach to product samples.

AZURE is an independent magazine working to bring you the best in design, architecture and interiors. We rely on advertising revenue to support the creative content on our site. Please consider whitelisting our site in your settings, or pausing your adblocker while stopping by.