architectural materials resources


Here are the collected resources I've compiled for your architectural material explorations: favorite books, video, online assets.

By William Hall
By William Hall
By Leonard Koren, William Hall

Storing a Sample Library

We’re all limited by the amount of space we have available to store things and material samples can take up a lot of room. I’ve seen many types of storage racks used in studios where I’ve worked and I’ve tried a number of things myself here in the studio – from metro shelving, to archival folios and wooden, felt and cardboard boxes and bookcases. Here’s the problem with all of these: they all keep the materials hidden. So although they’re great from an organizational standpoint…super tidy, right? From a creative standpoint it’s sort of stifling. You know, I’m much less likely to grab a material while designing to help me solve a problem or during a meeting if I have to dig through four different boxes to find what I’m looking for.

What I'm using now was inspired by the restaurant industry having stumbled across these relatively inexpensive baking carts and aluminum sheet trays. 

The cart is all aluminum construction and although it ships unassembled, I put it together in under five minutes. It comes with (4) polyester ball bearing casters, (2) of which are lock. Capacity is four hundred and eighty five pounds and they’re 26” wide, 20” deep and 38” tall. There are 10 slots for pans, but the top can also hold one, which I use to store and build the current material palette I’m working on or my essential tools. A 3” shelf-spacing means you can’t store large materials here, but that’s good for all the reasons we just discussed right? I bought mine for $92 on Amazon. The companion aluminum baking sheets I purchased are the 18" x 26" from Baker’s Mark and I picked those up at the Web Restaurant store. They’re heavy-duty 19 gauge aluminum rolled over a wire rim, and were $4.99 each.

Here’s what I like about this:

  1. It’s intentionally limiting. With only 10 slots it forces me to only keep what I’m most interested in. I try to edit ruthlessly and keep it populated with only the materials I’m into or researching right now. Boxes or countless metro shelves enable you to maintain an archive, but they also perpetuate this notion that you need to hang on to stuff you may never use again. The size here ensures my collection is edited and fresh.
  2. I like the archival almost surgical feel of this setup. If you’ve been following the channel you know that I’m driven by a simple set of daily rituals and implements surrounding carefully planned routines. These trays elevate the materials, making them sort of these…these talismans of the design process. Quirky…I know.
  3. Easy access. I touched on this briefly already. Filing things away in a separate space or out of eyeshot or easy reach means I’m less likely to use them as talking points in a meeting, or as inspiration for a design I’m working on.
  4. Casters allow me to roll the tray where I need it.
  5. I can use the trays to store other implements too. Like my studio essentials.
  6. The trays make great backgrounds for photography projects too. Honestly, the samples are too.
  7. There’s an interactive element to displaying the materials in this kind of format. Clients can participate in selecting items to touch and we can build palettes together on the fly.

Granted, for larger offices, one cart may not be enough but they do make taller ones. For this space and my taste, I like having everything below eye-level. This cart could supplement metro-shelves or another fixed shelving system where samples are rotated in and out based on project too.


Netflix Abstract series: I’ve said this before, but if you haven’t seen the Ilse Crawford episode, it’s a must watch.

Playlist of material related YouTube videos