In the Hunt for Durat

Our previous newsletter highlighted the use of Durat’s brilliant red integrated sinks and countertops in the James B. Hunt Jr. Library on N.C. State University's Centennial Campus. The library recently won an award for being one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. The Hunt library ranked 14th according Libraries were judged for internal and external appearance and amenities. With over 70 vibrant Durat colors available, the architect and designers involved with the project were able to find exactly what they needed. See our previous post here.  Please call 919-929-3009 or for samples of Durat.

hunt durat red sink

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Tiikeri Bar in CharBar No. 7 In Charlotte, NC

A new CharBar No. 7 just opened in Charlotte, NC and features a TorZo Tiikeri bar top in Bronze. Designer Carrie Frye from Studio Fusion said they selected Tiikeri to "complement the other finish selections and to provide an interesting and unique texture." She added that "there are only so many durable finishes that you can use for a bar and Tiikeri is interesting and unexpected." CharBar No. 7 strives to be the best neighborhood bar around. They are focused on providing a comfortable place to bring the kids for dinner or a spot to hang out and watch sports with buddies. The interior contributes to this relaxed atmosphere. Studio Fusion used horizontal reclaimed wood paneling behind the bar and Tiikeri as the workhorse bar surface. The two materials work well with one another and give CharBar No. 7 warmth and dimension.

TorZo Tiikeri at CharBar No. 7TorZo Tiikeri at CharBar No. 7TorZo Tiikeri at CharBar No. 7

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Tonic Design Takes 2013 Matzumoto Prize for Rank House

Tonic Design won the 2013 Matsumoto Prize for the Rank House! The home has EcoFusion Color Fusion Strand Woven bamboo floors from CaraGreen throughout. The Matsumoto Prize is in its second year and was created by North Carolina Modernist Houses in honor of George Matsumoto, a founding faculty member of the NCSU School of Design who created some of the state's most highly regarded Modernist houses. The Prize encourages young architects to keep North Carolina’s residential modern architecture thriving. The unique competition uses a jury of internationally known architects, as well as online public voting, to determine the winners of their cash prizes. The professional jury’s top pick was the Rank House a “modern gothic” structure designed by Katherine Hogan and Vinny Petrarca of Tonic Design + Construction. This house, which also won the People’s Choice third-prize award, was cited for its use of stairs as an “ordering element” inside the home and the effective way that the architects accommodated the needs of the homeowners, who are father and son. For a tour of the Rank House, check out this video. Or, for information on EcoFusion floors, click here.

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TorZo Tiikeri Used at UNC

TorZo Tiikeri was just used at The University of North Carolina's Gillings School of Global Public Health in a large state-of-the-art classroom. The Tiikeri material adds pattern, warmth, and a sustainable flourish to the design. Tiikeri was used for an accent wall at the entrance and as a decorative trim around the room's monumental white board.

Rob Kark in the Office of Facilities Planning and Construction at UNC said, "We are thrilled with our decision to use the TorZo Tiikeri material as an accent and trim in our recent large classroom project. We get tons of compliments about the appearance of the product from faculty, students and even our construction shops. It is an added bonus that we get to follow up on those compliments with information about the environmental friendliness of the material. It is very satisfying to see that our end users are left with the feeling that we are creating beautiful spaces for them and are also mindful of our environmental impacts."

TorZo Tiikeri contains 50% recycled and rapidly renewable sorghum straw. TorZo is made in the USA and all TorZo products are free from added formaldehyde. For samples or more information on TorZo Tiikeri, contact us.

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TorZo Tiikeri Tops at Relish Burger Bistro

The new Relish Burger Bistro, located in The Westin Seattle Hotel, serves up their "perfect burgers" on  TorZo Tiikeri dining tables. The Seattle location is 6700 square feet, located just off the Westin lobby, and in the heart of downtown. The project is the interior design work of Kay Lang + Associates and Julie Brezina. Brezina, the lead project designer, commented, “I have specified Torzo products on a few projects over the past two and a half years...The product has a textural depth that creates an amazing look. As a LEED Green Associate I prefer to specify materials that are part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative whenever possible.” In addition to Tiikeri, recycled lighting was used for sustainability. Brezina shared that everyone is thrilled with the space, from the hotel owners and management to the chef.

Tiikeri resin-infused panels and flooring are made from recycled and rapidly renewable sorghum straw. Like all TorZo products, Tiikeri has no added urea formaldehyde. It comes in 8 colors and can be used for both horizontal and vertical applications. Its durability makes it ideal for commercial applications. To learn more or request samples, contact us.

TorZo Tiikeri Tops at Relish Burger BistroTorZo Tiikeri Tops at Relish Burger BistroTorZo Tiikeri Tops at Relish Burger Bistro

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TorZo Tiikeri at University Park Library

TorZo Tiikeri was used for end panels on bookshelves at the University Park Library project in University Park, TX. This 14,000 square foot library, located within a mixed-use development, is the design of Dewberry Architects. Dewberry sought specialty materials to accompany the prevalent carpet, tile, and cherry wood being used in the space. They landed on Tiikeri and end-grain mesquite, to elevate the design. Tiikeri was used for all end panels on bookshelves. Mesquite was used for a monumental stair. Mia Ovcina, from the Dewberry Project Team, commented, “Torzo has a very cool look and is a sustainable product. We were looking for a unique and sophisticated material to use in our end-panel design and Torzo was a no-brainer.” Ovcina went on to say "Generally, Dewberry strives to use sustainable products in all of our projects, even when the client does not identify a need to do so. Although there were no strict guidelines for sustainability with the library, the client was very enthusiastic about using sustainable design features. The library staff and patrons are thrilled with the finish out, especially the creative materials used. The Torzo end panels are commented on regularly; everyone wants to know what the material is." For more information or samples of TorZo Tiikeri, contact us

Project Team - Denelle C. Wrightson, Eddie Davis, Lenda Sturdivant, Mia Ovcina
Contractor - Rogers-O’Brien
Millworker - LibraryWorx, LDS Group
Client - City of University Park

TorZo Tiikeri at University Park LibraryTorZo Tiikeri at University Park Library

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Musician Soars, ECOfusion Floors

After winding down a long, pastoral, gravel road in Pittsboro, NC, we arrived at the soaring modern home of musician, Michael Rank. At four floors, it’s the tallest house ever created by Tonic Design, the architect and builder. Its black aluminum and gray cement exterior cut through the country landscape and sky. Ranks’ favorite “colors” – black, gray, and white – canvas the exterior and interior.

Rank, who just released a new album, “In The Weeds”, with his band, Stag, also just completed construction on his new modern home, and used ECOfusion Color Fusion strand woven bamboo flooring from CaraGreen throughout. The ECOfusion bamboo flooring is a dark gray grounding color, called Morning Mist, with subtle flecks of blue and brown. The effect is created when ECOfusion uses its thru-color technology to dye the bamboo strands using pure plant-based pigments.   

As Rank welcomed us into his home, the stark white walls stood in marked contrast to the dark floors. The colorless walls enable his extensive art collection – amassed through many years frequenting galleries while on tour – to be the focal point. “When art is always in the same place, your eye stops looking at it,” Rank said, explaining why he wanted picture ledges installed throughout the home. “Now I can change out the art as often as I like.” Rank still had a rack of unhung art in his library, so he should have plenty to move into fresh rotation.

The sheer height and open core of the home are remarkable. While some of the passages induced vertigo for me, the catwalks made of open grated steel and stairs without risers enable the intentional vertical design to be ever present. The concept of building up was Rank’s own. “I overcame my fear of heights when working construction and now I get perverse pleasure from it.” For those of us who have not yet overcome our fear of heights, Rank does have a back spiral staircase, which I took down. Rank interjected, “My son prefers this one, too.”

ECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank HouseECOfusion Floors Morning Mist in Rank House

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Ashley Furniture Installs Bark House Feature Wall 

A newly opened Ashley Furniture HomeStore in Raleigh, NC, installed a Bark House feature wall in their showroom. They used Bark House's Poplar Bark Interior Shingles in 26" lengths with random widths. Their Visual Showroom Merchandiser told us that all of the art they had displayed on the wall had sold and he was in the midst of restyling it.
Bark House shingles come in three different grades: Standard, Premium, and Interior. The siding is Cradle to Cradle certified and made from bark obtained from sustainable foresters in the Appalachians harvesting yellow poplar for the plywood and furniture industries. Bark House obtains bark that would otherwise be discarded, or ground into low-grade mulch, and instead turn it into a unique and long-lasting finish material. These shingles can be used both inside and outside. Bark shingles can last up to 80 years and are maintenance free. Large Poplar panels are also available.

Bark House Wall at Ashley FurnitureBark House Wall at Ashley FurnitureBark House Wall at Ashley FurnitureBark House Wall at Ashley Furniture

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A Visual Journey Through NC State’s New Hunt Library

We recently visited the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library at NCSU to see Durat vanities that CaraGreen provided for the bathrooms. The building is the work of two architecture firms: Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee and Snohetta. Upon arriving, we marveled at its modern architecture with a glass and metal exterior that stands out amid a campus of traditional brick buildings. More than the facade distinguishes this library though, which is designed to be sustainable (they’re tracking LEED Silver), technologically advanced, and to foster collaboration.

When you enter Hunt Library, there’s not a book in sight. Yet, it houses nearly two million tomes that can be delivered to you within minutes via bookBot. You may not even realize this anomaly because of the architectural eye candy that abounds. A brilliant yellow monumental staircase cascades through the lobby amidst a field of white. Just around the stairs, there’s a glass wall that overlooks a mass of steel boxes that span multiple floors. This is the heart of the library, the inner workings where those two million books reside. Roaming the library, the expert use of color, lighting, and sustainable practices impress.

Color is used powerfully. Large blocks of yellow, teal, purple, green, and red interrupt expanses of whites and neutrals. Intensity is achieved through placement, repetition and continuity. For instance, all monumental staircases in the building are yellow and all elevator cores are teal. The yellow stairs have yellow treads, risers, handrails, and sidewalls. Elevator cores are teal and when the elevators open, they are clad in glass that has been back-painted in the same teal giving a seamless color experience. Project Architect, Shann Rushing, from Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee, shared with us that when they saw Durat, they immediately fell in love with it for its colors and shape ability. They also liked that Durat was a visual way to show their sustainability goals with its exposed recycled plastic chips. Durat vanities with integral oval sinks were ordered in both bright red and pale gray for all of the library’s bathrooms.

After color, the linear lighting used throughout the space, stands out as another brazen design element. It dashes along ceilings yielding energy and movement. And, in a more intimate reading room, long light rods hang from the ceiling, giving ambience. On the backside of the yellow stairwell in the lobby, LED lights zigzag up the shape of the stairs like racing stripes.

Sustainability is integral to the building’s design. Solar blades clad the exterior and allow natural light in while mitigating glare and heat gain. Lights are on sensors, which detect both daylight and occupancy to help reduce energy. LED lights are used. A Smart Mechanical System uses radiant heating and cooling versus forced air.  All rainwater is collected and filtered through landscaped rain gardens to help minimize stormwater impact on the environment. The gardens are filled with indigenous plants. There’s a green roof and trellises for vines to cover select areas of the exterior. And finish materials contain natural and recycled materials, such as the Durat, Marmoleum floors, and pavers made from concrete and recycled brick.
Hunt Library NCSU
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Creation of Twig Walls at Bida Manda Nurtures Community

Bida Manda, which means father and mother in Sanskrit, is a new Laotian restaurant in Raleigh, NC. Owners, brother and sister Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha, named the restaurant to honor their parents in Laos who instilled in them the belief of nurturing relationships through food. Interestingly, through the process of building their restaurant they also nurtured relationships with friends and the local community who came together to help create twig walls made from branches provided by CaraGreen and Bark House.

Matthew Griffith of in situ studio, architects for Bida Manda, shared the design story with us. He said that their client was amazing and came to them with a mood book full of images. They also had art and personal items from their parents and Laos, which they wanted to integrate into the space. A theme in their mood book was repetitive natural materials. The team was immediately drawn to pictures of Pio Pio restaurant designed by Sebastian Mariscal, which uses branches for the walls and ceiling. Kim Wike, CaraGreen’s triangle representative, stopped by in situ studio at just the right time as they were beginning the project and told them about Bark House who provides everything tree, from twigs to bark panels. CaraGreen and Bark House ended up supplying 3 tons of sticks to clad Bida Manda's walls and the ceiling over the bar including locust, oak, maple, sourwood, and birch species, which are all native to NC. Twigs were specified in 1”-3” diameters and as straight as possible.
Griffith told CaraGreen that the sticks were the hardest element to figure out because the restaurant was not sprinklered and it’s an assembly space, so materials had to be Class A fire rated. After many hours of research they found an intumescent varnish that would make the material fireproof and remain clear. After working with the city, and hiring an independent testing engineer to verify the process, they were able to move forward with their twig wall design plan. Budget dictated that the twigs would go in two places; a long wall that surrounds the main dining area and wraps the back wall, which is interrupted by a large display of the Nolinthas’ art, and, on the back bar wall which folds and become the ceiling. Griffith said that when sitting at the bar “you feel like you’re in a nest or womb of sticks”.
The twig walls required 750 hours to install. To reduce costs, Vansana and Vanvisa worked with friends to install the sticks. Over forty people helped and through the process, the Bida Manda family grew and it became a sort of community design project. To install the branches, they applied furring strips to the wall, which they then applied rabbit wire overtop. Everything was painted gray. Then, rather primitively, wire twists were used to attach the branches to the rabbit wire, which were then tucked out of sight. There was not a set plan of how to apply the branches and in the feel of the moment they decided to create some undulations around the bar giving it even more texture.

Sustainability was important on this project, which was a renovation of an existing space. Griffith said it was a “musical chairs of what was already there” and they reused as much as possible. Local artists and crafts people provided everything from art to reclaimed wood tables. Water based sealer was used for the concrete floors. LED strip lighting was used to illuminate the display cases containing art. Antiques were integrated into the space. And, the branches were sustainably and locally sourced from Bark House who is a certified B Corporation.

Bida Manda is located at 222 South Blount Street in Raleigh, NC.

The Bida Manda project team includes:

Client: Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha 
Architect: in situ studio
PME Engineer: Diversified Consulting Group
Contractor: Southeastern Properties and Development Company
Graphic Designer: Jaime Van Ward, Ketchup and Mustard
Prints: Spoon Flower
Textile Art: Shelly Smith
T-shirts + Decals: Ahpeele Studios

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