Cindy Allen Moderates "Materials in Times of Change" Panel for Knoll Design Day

A familiar face hosted Knoll's Materials in Times of Change: Textiles, Felt and More panel yesterday afternoon during one of two Knoll Design Days—Cindy Allen, Interior Design Editor in Chief. Joined by Dorothy Cosonas, creative director at KnollTextiles, Kim Yao, principal at Architecture Research Office, and Nina Bruun of her eponymous Copenhagen-based design studio, the women discussed what future office spaces might look and feel like, noting the importance of textile solutions.  

"I look back at our founding and think about the new mindset for today," Cosonas says, referencing Florence Knoll's innovative textile program, which pioneered the use of fabric swatches in client presentations and launched Knoll into the the company it is today. KnollTextile's much-discussed The Destination Collection is the first fully remote-completed collection for Cosonas and her team. "Finding structure in abstraction," per Cosonas, is the foundation for this artistic performance fabric collection, which includes four new bleach cleanable upholsteries, a bleach cleanable indoor/outdoor drapery, textured wallcoverings, and an ombre privacy curtain.  

Regardless of workplace shifts, the task of creating striking spaces and elevating the aesthetic of existing ones, as Allen pointed out, is not going away. Yao, deemed "the ultimate specifier" by Allen, brought her multi disciplinary design mind to the materials talk. She explained that right now, designers are finding ways to balance beauty and technology to achieve efficiency and wellness, while thinking about sustainability. Yao, for instance,  favors natural felt and materials over polyester blends. "Inherent is the beauty of 100 percent wool," Yao says, noting that not only is it durable, but when infused with pigments "it's... impregnated by color."  

With a keen and precise eye on design trends, Bruun assures Allen that vibrant color is not going anywhere. In fact,  "we've seen over the years that crises make people become more creative and make the world bright," she said, pointing to research that shows optimistic designers often favor bright colors. 

Another key element of the evolving workplace? Acoustic solutions. Panelists agreed the importance of acoustics in the workplace and the versatility of such solutions will likely play a large role going forward. They also alluded to greater use of modular furnishings, such as moveable, plank-style desk dividers, which provide a sound and germ barrier. As for textiles, there may be a push to go larger and utilize performance fabrics and drapes, particularly those made of felt, to create acoustic barriers in both open office spaces and smaller meeting rooms. "You walk in, close the door, and it's like you're in a pillow," Cosonas gushes, stressing the multifaceted use of textiles in the workplace. 

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