Brent Williams on Refurbishing with Architectural Film

If architectural film is your niche, don’t miss out on top tips from industry expert, Brent Williams.


Over the years, I’ve been asked to do a lot of unusual projects that have involved fusion finishes. Our Editor, Rosie, has asked me to show and discuss some of the more unusual projects that I’ve developed over the years.


Sadly, some of these projects don’t have any photographic record, thanks to happening before the onset of the cell phone camera. One of my favourite projects happened in the spring of 1992 when my team was asked to create a 6-foot-tall Diet Coke can for a promotion being run by or local Coca-Cola bottler. The can was fabricated out of traditional plywood materials but was finished on the outside with Milement by MBA…an early form of a fusion finish. This finish was intended for the trade show industry, so it was fairly thin and somewhat brittle, but it was fine for big, flat surfaces like trade show panels.

One of my all-time favorite projects was this luminaire, created for the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville Tennessee. Back in 2006, plans were made for a new grand entrance hall to the hospital that included a four-story tall “elliptunda”…an elliptical entrance area glazed on three sides. The original plan was for a signature lighting element that would be partially glass and partially “wood“. The problem was, that they wanted these “ribbons“ of wood to end up being approximately 12 inches wide, and about 10 feet tall, but only an eighth of an inch thick. I explained to the lead interior designer on the project, Heather King, that what she wanted to do was functionally impossible. We could not fabricate curved ribbon-like structures out of real wood. Making things more difficult, the space faced directly west… meaning it was going to get intense afternoon sun every day and I knew this meant that any real wood element would likely be destroyed by sun damage within a season or two. After discussing these issues, Heather asked me what I thought we could do instead and my response was very simple… “DI-NOC over aluminium, as it will look totally real and no one will know the difference”.

That’s exactly what we did…we fabricated the ribbons out of .080 aircraft aluminium that was CNC’d to shape after the DI-NOC had been applied to both sides, and then we ran the ribbons through a roll former to create the curvature that you see in the image.

Among the more traditional things that I’ve refinished with DiNoc over the years is this…my personal drum set. I started college as a jazz major before I realized that I actually wanted to eat after university. I’ve owned this cherry red set of Gretsch Catalina Maple drums for over a decade and I love the drums, but I just didn’t love the finish. So over the course of an afternoon, I disassembled the shells, prepped everything and wrapped everything with 3M DI-NOC™ MW 776. The drums are two full seasons in now, and still look brand new. 

In the early spring of 2011, I was contacted by 3M to be project manager over a major tradeshow project happening in May of that year. The show was the International Contemporary Furniture Fair hosted at the Javits Convention Center in New York City,  and this is going to be the first big presentation by 3M‘s newly formed Architectural  Markets Department. The trade show booth itself was fabricated by a store speciality fixtures company located in Brooklyn and the overall dimensions of the booth were 40‘ x 10‘. The entire back wall of the display was in essence a continuous niche, filled with elements that had been finished with DiNoc finishes. This also included a couple of pieces that contain LED lighting to show some digital print capabilities by being translucent. Every surface in the booth was covered in the material… Including the floor. The floor was made up of 4‘x 4‘ parquet panels, that were put together with coffin locks. Yes, we know it wasn’t a good idea to use deinonychus flooring, but in this case, the show was four days and we correctly assumed that the material had enough durability to withstand floor traffic for that period of time with no adverse where. Also involved in that production were a number of accessory items, there were a number of stainless steel boxes that were partially covered for the two-tone effect, and some tables that were covered, and then enclosed inside clear acrylic boxes, creating an unusual three-dimensional effect for the product. In these images, you can see all the different surfaces that we used…as well as most of the AMD management staff,  who are staffing the booth for that show.  

Personally, the ICFF in 2011 was a major watershed moment for me, because we also had a major project that was being done for the internationally known industrial designer, Karim Rashid. Karim had an associated showroom/party space designated for the week and we created Dimensional flooring that was temporary in nature, but very cool to install. 

Also, because I was lucky enough to be the PM on that project, I got a personal invitation from Karim to attend the party and was able to meet a number of my designer idols that live and work in the New York City market. 

Stay tuned here on Vinyl Pros for more projects like these, as well as a dose of fusion history and information on how to develop your business with these amazing finishes.


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