As we all know, finishes and materials have the opportunity to make a critical impact on a space and surroundings. They provide a tactile and palpable experience on all planes, and the details involved can enrich or hinder the material. We have seen transition strips used in commercial and healthcare spaces, producing awkward ends and beginnings of materials. Below, we have explored celebration of the transition, instead of hiding it. It's all in the details, my friends.

Transitions between materials can produce organic, patterned lines where two materials meet. A wooden floor is custom cut to accommodate hexagonal tile, forging a new, sensual median line in the space. The change from wood to ceramic tile also denotes a change of program: for example, an entry way, kitchen, dining or bath to a lounge or dry area. 

The subject in the space participates in the change as well: the sound of high heels tinkering along the ceramic until they hit warm wood, an echo of pots and pans in the kitchen versus the muted conversation in a living area, the neatness of bathroom tile changes to a cozy nest of a bedroom hardwood. This experiential transition also translates to color and texture, such as a lime green to bright white in a bathroom area, or a warm, light wood to a cooler wood in the kitchen. This change in color helps users consider the spaces intuitively: the start to a more private bath area, or a "stay-out-of-the-way" kitchen area.

Another transitional trick is light. Light is a medium that should be fully integrated into the designs from the beginning. Light can either mask or highlight a transition. Below, we see a back lit stair which shifts the main tile into a stepped wood bathtub area. The light not only provides a cautionary warning to the users of the step up, but also blurs the line between two hard materials.

Transitions are evolving, from organic patterns to light and color to experiential participation.


Wood is a complex, diverse material, with soft and hard options, with a variety of colors and grains. Subtle changes in color and directionality can create complex textures, opportunities for signage, and ever-changing screen partitions.

Slatted wood is repetitive thin wood widths, arranged in a consecutive pattern, either in a vertical/horizontal flat plane, or in geometric shapes. Slats allow partition walls and doors to be semi-transparent, letting in light and eye sight when positioned in a parallel form, but enables changing shadows and views with horizontal and vertical movement.

Wood slats are being used in all forms and on all planes of interior design: ceilings, floors, walls, millwork, and even furniture has all incorporated slatted wood for the better. Below, we see many forms of slatted wood in dynamic spaces:

  • millwork and entry details are an intriguing addition, pulling consumers into the space, and continuing eye movement
  • an architectural screen or window wall, allowing filtered light into the interior spaces that change depending on sun height and location
  • subtle signage that peek through the slats in differentiating wood color and texture
  • overlapping patterns of wood strips create an extra layer of pattern and geometry
  • wood slats on the ceiling to hide ugly HVAC systems and air vents, but still allowing maximum air flow
  • CNC-ed wood strips to create a continuous bench and wall


Tromp L'Oeil, or to deceive the eye, is an art technique that originated in the Baroque period, utilizing perspective sketching and drawing to create realistic paintings and artwork. Deception of depth and materials, especially seen in set design, builds new and unexpected spaces with just a paintbrush.

We're now seeing modern, unique wallcoverings with tromp l'oeil patterns, creating either realistic perspectives or miniature dioramas. Mostly monochromatic, tromp l'oeil wallcoverings provide an unnatural feeling of space and horizon with bookshelves turned on their sides and white props stacked on imaginary shelves. Found in cafes, lounges, and waiting areas, these graphic walls invoke interest through traditional artistic methods. Floors have also taken on a tromp l'oeil effect, mostly through tiling techniques. We see geometry creating faux three-dimensional planes through shadow and highlight tiles. See below for our favorites.

RECREATE: use with a neutral backdrop, to avoid too much visual stimulation. Click on images for original source.