Works in Progress
Designframe transforms Designtex's NeoCon showroom into an exploration lab.
Sheila Kim -- Interior Design, 8/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
In celebration of its innovation in textiles, Designtex wanted its NeoCon 2001 showroom to engage visitors with the company's experimental materials in a similarly innovative way—by not using a traditional wall display. New York-based graphic design firm Designframe addressed the company's needs by proposing a laboratory setting that would allow visitors to experience and investigate design processes by seeing and feeling the materials. The first step was to transform the space into a neutral palette that would keep the spotlight on the products and, at the same time, emulate a lab.
To create this tabula rasa, a minimalist, white-painted wall was erected to cover an expanse riddled with custom display shelving. The other walls, excluding the glass curtain façade, were also painted white, while the existing white Sheetrock floor was simply polished. After the slate was cleared, some three dozen chair armatures were brought into the triangular, approximately 1,500-sq.-ft. space. The chair frames were commissioned in simple, black-painted steel, and then wrapped with the actual centerpieces—the materials.
"Each material told us how it wanted to be wrapped or stretched," says design principal Michael McGinn about the application process. Nabokov, a sheer white fabric, was playfully displayed as a wedding gown on its frame, while Gummi Bear, a bonded, cut-proof fabric, was tightly wrapped on a different chair. Each of the 24 materials used in the showroom had a corresponding postcard, all hung in a straight line along one wall. Visitors were encouraged to take these product information cards, which featured images alluding to the source of the material or its inspiration, rather than the material itself.
The showroom's empty chair frames were also a symbolic gesture, signifying that the design process is an ongoing one. And with already 40 years of innovation behind it, Designtex hopes to keep up this theme of design experimentation.