3 metal ceiling and wall design trends that will ignite your inspiration
In commercial architecture and design, ceilings and walls aren’t often the first creative tools we turn to give a space life and personality. There’s a tendency to think of them as functional, monolithic surfaces — flat planes that cap off rooms and divide spaces. But today’s ceilings and walls are as critical to design palettes as furniture or lighting, and not just because they can be covered with a paint color.
Thanks to manufacturers’ ever-growing product repertoires, ceilings and walls have become a veritable playground of material, form, shape, size, and finish. Designers are using ceilings and walls like never before to push creative boundaries and set new thematic tones, drawing eyes upward and all around a space. That’s especially true in the category of metal products, where the limits are now virtually endless in what’s possible with ceilings and walls.
While metal is a particularly reflective surface, many products are available with a combination of perforations and sound absorbent infill that offer acoustical benefits. But, for designers, metal is more valuable for its visual potential: extensive options in colors, finishes, lengths, widths, and heights, along with curved, canted, tiered, and diverging options create rhythm and movement on the ceiling plane.
That means when inspiration strikes, there’s very likely a metal ceiling or wall product that can translate any design idea — even the most boundary-pushing ones — into a real-life architectural masterpiece.
Here, we examine three of the latest building trends in which designers are incorporating metal ceilings into their creative palettes for magnificent effect.
Emulating the Organic
One of the most notable and unexpected properties of metal ceilings and walls is that they don’t have to actually look like metal. The finish possibilities are vast, covering everything from vibrant standard color offerings to custom options for specific design themes or brand palettes. But even more striking are the decorative wood-look and real wood veneer finishes some manufacturers offer. Convincing species and stains can suit any biophilic theme, adding a touch of natural flair to any space.
Designers are using metal in linear, beam, soffit, and open plenum applications to provide the natural appearance of wood in projects where solid wood ceilings are not ideal, or simply not desirable for performance reasons. Plus, some metal products are engineered for exterior applications, allowing designers to tackle projects that, quite literally, link the great outdoors with the great indoors through a continuous visual plane.
Raising the Roof (Beams)
When it comes to open spaces, vastness is often the defining characteristic of the overall aesthetic. Designers have been incorporating angled metal beams and baffles into open plenums to lend an even grander presence to the open space. Coupled with a decorative wood-look or wood veneer finish, beams incorporate the classic warmth of wooden joists into open spaces.
Angled beams can even provide clever functionality in the design, like lighting integration, acoustical control, and wayfinding. In one recent arena application, for example, the design team specified a custom combination of angled wood-look metal beams that gradually increase in degree, using a series of A-frame apices to add a subtle touch of wayfinding that guides occupants around the arena’s concourse.
Playing with Curves
Left and right, up and down, curved metal beams and baffles are a designer’s way of adding playfulness and movement into the space overhead. Ideal for open plenums where electrical and mechanical components are less pronounced, curved ceiling elements provide the raw material for some of today’s most immediately striking ceiling designs.
Whether it’s a randomized serpentine of horizontally curved baffles, parallel curved lines reminiscent of train tracks, or a topographic landscape of vertically curved baffles, designers are making waves with intriguing combinations of arcs and radii in various combinations of colors and finishes.
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