If you followed me on Instagram you would find that during my world travels I love to take pictures of beautiful automobiles. Of course, the U.A.E. is a virtual cornucopia of high-priced exotic cars ripe for iPhone cameras. Along with the Bugatti Veyron I have always coveted the Bentley in all of its forms. I thought recently of parallels between Bentleys and architectural design.
Architects and designers of high-end projects all share a goal, which is to create spaces and buildings that could be described as “iconic”. I see all too often, during the “value engineering” phase of a project, that some of the most visible elements of the building are changed for financial reasons. Never is a component, specifically flooring or millwork in this context, value engineered to become more expensive.
I contend that the most visible part of a building is the floors, often referred to as the “biggest piece of furniture in the building”. If they are specified as hardwood, they should always be the most beautiful and sustainable hardwoods available. The most beautiful hardwood floors are relatively expensive, just as a Bentley is more expensive than a Ford.
One would never try to negotiate a price on a Bentley by suggesting substitutions for certain parts of the car. One would never suggest to the Bentley dealer, for example, that you really only want a car that looks like a Bentley and it should be cheaper if those soft leather seats were changed to cloth or the 12 cylinder engine was switched to a 6 cylinder. If you want a Bentley you want it because it is one of the most beautiful automobiles on the planet and each one is specially built for its owner. If you want a Bentley, you will pay whatever it costs.
There are many challenging financial realities that come to bear in the construction of any commercial building or residence. It is my fervent belief that if the commercial building or residence is to become known as “iconic”, beautiful hardwood floors will be part of that classification. Each hardwood floor is unique and each imparts a warmth and character to the space that can never be precisely duplicated. Compromising on the price of a hardwood floor can only result in heartache and disappointment in the long run.
The hardwood flooring specifications should be written in such a way to preclude substandard material substitution. Just think about how disappointed you would be if you bought a Bentley with cloth seats, assembled by a randomly chosen mechanic, because it is less expensive. To create an iconic interior space, you need to find the most highly rated flooring or millwork manufacturer, finisher and installer available and pay what they charge. In doing so you can reasonably hold them accountable for high quality standards in the finished product.
Now that we have established that every beautiful building should feature hardwood floors and millwork, we should want the best. The best floors and millwork are created with quartersawn hardwoods, the Bentley of hardwood. Accept no substitutions.