April 1, 2008
Patterns of Everyday Life
Pratt students create a new line of architectural panels from common materials.
In the fall of 2006, Designtex invited a group of architecture and interior-design students at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, to tinker with its product lines. “I challenged them to develop something using a material no one had ever thought about,” says Tom Hamilton, the company’s president. It was a very open-ended brief, so Francine Monaco, who taught the studio with two other professors, suggested that the students begin with an everyday material and incorporate techniques of weaving or lamination. “We encouraged them to find something that has its own qualities and is readily available so that they could feel free to test it and play with it and see what came of it,” she says. One student, Shilpa Selliah, chose to work with the plastic loops that hold six-packs together; Teresa Maria Ramos Abrego started with the pattern of a fingerprint to create a three-dimensional design.
At the semester’s end the students presented their explorations to Designtex, and in December the company released four of them in a new line of its Fusion architectural panels. In addition to the Fingerprints pattern (pictured), there is Coils, inspired by traditional weaving patterns; Drink Tray, based on fast-food cardboard cup holders; and Straws, developed from bundles of plastic drinking straws. But for Anita Cooney, chair of Pratt’s interior-design department, the broader benefit of the studio was less in getting some projects manufactured than in forcing architecture and interior-design students to work side by side. “Being able to approach a problem with a common understanding is a great model for future work,” she says.
A nontoxic polyester resin with 40 percent postindustrial recycled content
Fusion panels can be cut, drilled, and molded, and they are extremely impact-resistant, low VOC–emitting, easy to install, and low-maintenance.
Partitions, privacy panels, shower doors, cabinets, ceilings, countertops, displays, lighting fixtures, and signage
200 Varick St.
New York, NY 10014