Wolf-Gordon’s “Force of Nature” spirals through Chicago’s Merchandise Mart during NeoCon 2013.
Based on the success of Wolf-Gordon’s inaugural NeoCon installation in 2012, chief creative officer Marybeth Shaw commissioned yet another show-stopping design piece for 2013. With the working title “Forces of Nature,” she turned once again to New York City–based design studio karlssonwilker and Brooklyn-based design-build collaborative The Guild to create a sculpture that would showcase the breadth of the company’s textiles and wall coverings. “The title ended up being quite appropriate to the final form, as the sculpture is a geometric construct with all of the resulting physical forces that might spin it out of the Mart’s ‘town square,’” Shaw recently told AN.
Karlssonwilker initially conceived of a kinetic sculpture, but Shaw wanted a large installation—nearly 30 feet long and 14 feet wide. At that size, there was no room for movement within the given space, a double-height ceiling over an escalator that would carry 42,000 show attendees. “We wanted it to rotate like a rotisserie chicken, but we went for a larger form,” said Graham Kelman, creative manager for The Guild. Ultimately, the team decided on a static sculpture resembling a twisted spine that gives a sense of movement through color and form. “I lost sleep over whether it would fit because if there was flex in the spine, it wouldn’t work.”
How a boutique Brooklyn design-build collective strung up NeoCon’s first major installation.
Attendees of NeoCon in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart rode the escalators and ascended towards Wolf-Gordon‘s large crystalline canopy hanging overhead. Though NeoCon has come and gone, Wolf-Gordon has just begun using the tessellated, prismatic structure for an ad campaign that, for the company’s new Chief Creative Officer, Marybeth Shaw, signifies a renewed approach to design and a willingness to take risks. To announce Wolf-Gordon’s new face to the world, Shaw enlisted the help of advertising agency Karlssonwilker, who has created campaigns for Adobe, the New York Times Magazine, BMW, Vitra and MTV, among others, and The Guild, a Brooklyn-based design and build collective whose clients include Dior, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Hurley and Diane von Furstenberg. It’s a bit of an unexpected mix of talents, to be sure, but Shaw wanted to shake things up.
After developing a concept with Karlssonwilker that was inspired by Bruno Taut’s 1914 Glass Pavilion, Shaw turned to The Guild, where Creative Manager Graham Kelman translated her idea into a spiky, crystalline form onto which Wolf-Gordon’s fabrics, textiles and wall coverings could be displayed. Kelman’s first design had between 650-700 prismatic faces with an area far too small to show off the fabric, so Kelman decreased the amount of faces to around 250 while also increasing their individual size. “I increased the largest spike from three to six feet by using a sheet of material per spike side,” Kelman said. He was able to decrease “the total number of faces by two-thirds and still retain the aesthetic impact, volume and material” he wanted.