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Careful Consideration of Materials Selection // 

Dan Grudek


The process of material and hardware selection is not just about choosing the strongest, most cost effective, or obvious choices. Our job as architects is to carefully choose materials that will ensure function while maintaining a high degree of design. It is a constant process of understanding and addressing how our decisions relate back to our initial design thoughts. While it would be simple to go to the local hardware store and select the standard nuts and bolts, it is far more complicated to see past the technical aspects and look at the emotion and intention behind design.


There are a plethora of different hardware available but with each piece comes a different experience. For us in design+make the process has been about careful research alongside prototyping many different options. It is a complex balance to ensure that the client receives a piece true to the original design intent and one that is one hundred percent functional. We had to take into consideration how the piece will be assembled and disassembled and how it will hold up to daily wear all while considering the experience it will invoke.


On the AAFE team there have been multiple sets of hardware that we have tested on many different connections with one of the most critical being that of the table top meeting the steel frame. At that single location we had to ensure for the woods expansion over a rigid steel frame.

two of the original connection methods tested which left hardware visible on the table top.

final hidden connection giving us a clean table top free of any visible hardware

All of the details constructed with different hardware were studied in drawings and physical models before choosing a solution that will ensure a long lifespan for the table top and a sleek look. In studying all of these connections and hardware we discovered that most are functional technically, leaving us to delve into the finer rationale. Our original intent is constantly questioned leaving us to continually form guidelines that will be carried through every piece, such as how someone will touch, view, and think about the decision. As we move into production the careful choices we have made will be confirmed as all of the pieces come together to form the final project.

small sample of the many different hardware options we have considered

Written by Dan Grudek

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