What do you get when you offer local design minds a friendly creative challenge, randomly restrict their medium, and then throw in a 120 foot catwalk to boot? The answer is the Interior Design Coalition of Washington’s signature event, Product Runway. Now in its second year, this fashion / design / theatrical event is intended as a way to encourage imaginative thinking and foster collaboration within the design industry.
Eighteen leading architecture and design firms were randomly paired with product reps and challenged to create and construct a couture garment made exclusively of that rep’s material offering (carpet, tile, etc.).
This year, the Weber Thompson team enjoyed a unique partnership with Barb Bushnell of Designtex (fabric), and Paula Vollers of Coalesse (furniture). Also joining our band of innovative minds was Bellevue College student Maggie Goodman.
Using our guiding principal of integrated design, it was important that the internal Weber Thompson team be open to everyone from day one. WT’s interior design, architecture, landscape architecture, and support staff all jumped on board with enthusiasm! Our company lounge was transformed into a laboratory of ideas (and creative explosions) where everyone was invited to offer their hands and their two cents to help achieve our goal.
Early schematic meetings led the team on a path of reflection and hope. The concept statement gave me goose bumps the first time I read it, and so I can’t help but share it with you:
“There is a duality in the way we negotiate the world. Issues of our present both ground us and weigh us down, yet we catch glimpses of the potential of the future. We control our own destiny by interweaving our own inherent strength with an acceptance of external support, ultimately allowing us to let go and emerge with unbridled lightness and hope…”
To translate this into a world of wearable furniture and fabric pieces, the team used the back element of the, appropriately named, Wishbone Chair, and agreed on a progression of color and texture that began as a heavy base at the bottom of the garment and became lighter and more delicate as it reached the top. Think of a large tree in the forest — grounded by its stable roots, and reaching up toward the sun.
A shout out and huge thank you to the Weber Thompson Product Runway 2009 Team: Ann Wolf, Ginger Garff, Laura Greenamyer, Marc Furst, Maria Hayward, Monica Lewis, Nicole Winn and Sabina Fiore!