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Sandow acquires materials consulting firm Material ConneXion

Deal also includes design firm Culture & Commerce

Sandow has acquired Material ConneXion, a global materials consulting firm with the largest library of innovative materials in the world, and its sister company, Culture & Commerce, a design management firm.

 Material ConneXionDesigners can use Material ConneXion’s libraries in New York and several cities around the world to research more than 6,000 materials.
 Material ConneXionAndrew Dent, left, founder George Beylerian and Michele Caniato are key executives of Material ConneXion.

Sandow, the parent company of Casual Living, Furniture/Today, Interior Design magazine and several other publications, said the deal is an important step forward in the growth of the acquired companies, both of which are based in New York.

Adam I. Sandow, chairman and CEO of Sandow, added that the acquisition also is "a pivotal step" for his company, further solidifying its position in the design world.

"Material ConneXion's unparalleled expertise in materials, sustainability and design, coupled with its expanding global presence, will bring substantial knowledge to our corporation and greatly magnify our business connections and international reach. Culture & Commerce's leadership position at the intersection of the business and design worlds provides a valuable, strategic resource for ourselves and clients. With Sandow supporting them, the synergistic opportunities are exciting and limitless," he said.

Sandow acquired the firms from their founder, George M. Beylerian, who will remain with the companies to support the growth of their international licensing program and to serve as an ambassador. The transaction was brokered by Berkery Noyes.

Founded in 1997, Material ConneXion is a resource for innovative materials research and strategic materials insights.

The firm's most striking physical features are its libraries of more 6,000 advanced and sustainable materials at its New York headquarters and at offices in Bangkok, Thailand; Cologne, Germany; Daegu, Korea; Milan, Italy; and Istanbul, Turkey (opening in June). It also plans to open 10 offices in China through 2017, starting with Beijing in October and Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2012. There's also an online library.

Access to the libraries is membership-based, with annual fees such as $450 for one person or $15,000 for a corporation, providing access to as many as 200 people. The firm also offers consulting services ranging from materials sourcing to manufacturing support and workshops.

"We have clients in industries ranging from automotive to fashion, from jewelry to product design," said Michele Caniato, who remains president of Material ConneXion and Culture & Commerce. About 15,000 clients use the libraries in person or online, he said.

In home furnishings, clients have included retailers Crate & Barrel and Ikea and manufacturer Natuzzi. Material ConneXion worked with the latter last year to set up an on-site materials library at the upholstery giant's headquarters in Santeramo, Italy.

Material ConneXion also says it is committed to increasing awareness of the valuable role materials play in design and sustainability through its public and academic programming, which has helped educate hundreds of thousands of designers and students through exhibitions, lectures and the development of materials libraries at academic institutions.

Adam Sandow said his company "intends to heavily invest in George Beylerian's vision and the business he has built," and will expand the firm's influence and global presence. "We plan to open materials libraries around the world, bring the platform to more universities and corporations, and devote substantial funds to new technologies that will greatly benefit our clients."

Caniato said the libraries add 40 to 60 new materials each month and don't accept everything that's offered - a third-party jury determines if materials warrant inclusion.

The libraries categorize materials by their construction, not their current uses, which enables designers to find solutions to their challenges by trying materials that may have been developed for different industries.

Andrew H. Dent, the firm's vice president, library and materials research, will continue to develop the knowledge base of Material ConneXion. "We recognize his expertise and insight as invaluable and look forward to increasing his presence across our many platforms," said Sandow.

Culture & Commerce, meanwhile, serves as a talent agency that links designers with the brands that need them. It has developed and negotiated high profile design projects, first making its mark by bringing Philippe Starck to retailer Target in 2001. More recently, it worked with designer Yves Behar/Fuseproject to help shoemaker Puma replace the 10 million shoeboxes it was using each year with a more sustainable alternative - which turned out to be a bag.

Caniato said the firm works with companies and clients to "use design as a business tool and not just a creative exercise.... It's about how design can create a better product at the right price to create a better life for the consumer."

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