There are No Rules, Part II
Ghislaine Vinas posted last week about Idea Lab ’09, the first Interior Design magazine/InterfaceFLOR collaborative design venture, so it seems like the gag order is lifted and it is safe to write about the experience. I worked with 2Michaels Design on their installation (Joan is my better half, Jayne is her other half) As Ghislaine noted, there were no rules: we received a box filled with carpet stuff and no instructions. My role was to be a sounding board and to supply vintage design. Still, in the beginning, I ventured a few suggestions for the concept:
First, I wanted to do a mock-up of the Pyramids at Giza, carpeted with a variety of Interface tiles. This idea was rejected. Then, I wanted to do the Great Wall of China, carpeted (with mirrored side walls to project the Wall infinitely). Rejected out of hand. Then, I proposed an upside-down room, with carpeting on the ceiling (floor) and suspended, built-in furniture, also carpeted. Upside-down hanging fixtures sticking up from the floor completed the vision, which also was immediately rejected. Undaunted, I turned the reins over to Joan and Jayne.
The concept of a room setting with carpet tiles, yarns, and production byproducts forming decorative elements, combined with vintage furnishings, some covered in carpet fabrics, was in place prior to our arrival at the Awarehouse in LaGrange, Georgia. Much of the work had to be done on site, though, during a frenetic four-day period of trial-and-error and improvisation. Fortunately for us, and for our fellow designers doing something like this for the first time, it was also the first time for the Interface team, so expectations were low and curiosity and esprit de corps were high. I was told on more than one occasion by Interface staff that they enjoyed the challenge and the opportunity to “push the envelope.”
With the help of the folks at InterfaceFLOR, the contractors, and a few student volunteers from Auburn (and, of course, Cindy Allen), Joan and Jayne solved a range of technical and aesthetic problems on the fly: locating 56 spools of yarn for the totem wall; reconfiguring the collage wall and finding the right colors for it among the many carpet tiles; constructing an oversized artwork out of a box of cardboard tubes; and upholstering the daybed with a carpet fabric picked out of a dumpster at the factory—a fabric that looked and felt luxurious and helped tie the installation together.
In the end, I was happy with our result, and quite proud of Joan and Jayne. What surprised me the most about our booth was how well the Interface colorways and textures worked—how tiles and weaves designed for flooring translated into a nicely realized interior with a vintage, Big-Sur feel. My 1940’s plywood Nathan Lerner chairs actually looked great with carpet tiles on them—I’ll probably keep them that way afterward. My big contribution to the project? The hanging fixture, which I cobbled together from a scrounged wire basket, some rubber tubing, and yarn.
From what I hear, the folks at Interface were pleased with the experience and the results, and may host Idea Lab ‘10 next year. That gives me 10 months to pitch “The Great Wall of China, Carpeted.”