The Modern Interior Design Materials Blending Innovation With Durability

Benja Harney

If you’re putting your house to heavy use, every surface needs to last. From vegan leather to bleachable tassels, these innovations are here to help.

After several months spent working from home, a lot of us are realizing that our living spaces are not designed to withstand the wear and tear of round-the-clock daily use—especially when children and pets are involved. Fortunately, many of the performance materials that were so unsightly in the past have been given a facelift. There are now plush rugs you can clean, supple synthetic stain-resistant leathers, and porcelain that looks and feels like marble. Timothy Corrigan, a Los Angeles– based designer, was an early adopter of bringing outdoor fabrics indoors (he used them in Madonna’s home 20 years ago), and recently created a line of rugs for Perennials. He says his collection of hand-knotted rugs “feels like the finest silk but was made to be outdoors. You have all that durability and can spill red wine on it and get that spot out—it’s a no-brainer.”

Fabrics & Leather

Many performance fabrics, formerly known as outdoor fabrics, have come a long way since the beloved striped awning. Both Perennials and Sunbrella use solution-dyed acrylic fibers for their collections. This isn’t a coating: The pigment is embedded in the fibers during the manufacturing process, making the material water-, fade-, and stain-resistant. (Most can be cleaned using diluted bleach.) Sunbrella recently introduced collections with Pendleton and Larsen, while Perennials supplies fabrics to Holly Hunt. RH sells fabric made with both brands by the yard. Meanwhile, the Italian furniture maker Minotti  included a performance jacquard and double canvas among its new offerings this year.

Related: The Most Iconic Pieces of Furniture Ever Created, According to Interior Designers

There’s even performance leather: Sunbrella introduced Horizon, a synthetic version, last year, and Gus Design Group, a Canadian furniture and accessories brand, recently debuted Vegan Apple Skin Leather, partially made with upcycled apple fiber. Perennial collaborated with esteemed brand Samuel & Sons on a collection of decorative borders, cords, and fringes that are all stain-, mildew-, and UV-resistant, and again easy to clean with diluted bleach.


Benja Harney

Kitchen & Bath Surfaces

While marble and other natural stone offer a patina of glamour, they eventually show their age with stains and chips, no matter how well sealed. Antolini, an Italian stone company, has developed a treatment that will protect polished marble, onyx, and quartz from etching and staining; Visionnaire debuted two sinks and a dining table using the Antolini marble this spring.

Related: The Best Colors for a Kitchen Refresh

Companies such as Florim, MirageMateria, and Ceramica Fondovalle offer porcelain options that look very much like stone. Gruppo Concorde developed Natura-Vein, a process that extends the marble patterning throughout the entire porcelain slab (as opposed to digitally printed surfaces), so counter edges and corners can match the tops, and, thanks to Edimax Astor’s 3D Shaped technology, they can feel like the real thing, complete with depressions, grooves, and veins.

A marble-like porcelain produced by Lea Ceramiche features an antibacterial shield that’s integrated into the slab during the firing process. It eliminates up to 99.9 percent of bacteria, which is a welcome benefit in this era of heightened hygiene. For outdoor kitchens, Caesarstone recently launched Solaris, a first-of-its-kind quartz surface that won’t crack, fade, or yellow and can withstand extreme cold (up to –30 degrees) and extreme heat—ideal for an outdoor fireplace or countertop grill.

Related: Luxurious Area Rugs That Will Completely Transform Your Living Room

Rugs

In the world of rugs, as with other textiles, materials once used only for exterior applications are coming indoors. Some designers already favored outdoor rugs for their interiors, but the options were typically flat, with little movement and depth, and often looked and felt like plastic. Today, Christopher Farr and RH are creating attractive performance rugs using solution-dyed acrylics, polypropylene, and, in some cases, polyesters that feel soft and silky to the touch. These woven, hand-knotted, and hand-braided styles look like pieces you’d find in Morocco or Mexico. Perennials pushed its techniques further with a collection by Palm Beach designer Allison Paladino. Her outdoor rugs have a flat base but different pile heights, resulting in textural designs that will age well and withstand the elements.