When Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen established their Vancouver design and manufacturing studio in 2003, the open-concept office was still a novelty. But as start-ups arrived on the real estate scene, Molo’s Softwall room dividers emerged as a perfect solution for the continuously evolving 21st-century workspace. Earlier this year, the duo introduced an aluminum version of Softwall (pictured top right), made from a textile with a micro-coating of the flexible metal. The dynamic sheen that it affords their classic product reinforced the strengths of an iterative process for MacAllen, who shared other time-tested takeaways with Azure.
Stephanie and I are interested in things that aren’t the front-and-centre stars of a space. Our walls tend to be more of a backdrop. Highlighting an environment, with the light and the people in it, is the kind of design we’re drawn to.
The iterative approach of producing the same object over time encourages a designer to start considering interesting variations. What’s it like in this colour? Or in this material? The idea for our new metallic wall came from working with bookmakers applying gilding to paper. Suddenly, through one subtle shift, the wall remains familiar but acquires this new character.
We’ve created so many different narratives about how our walls could be used, but we’ve never tried to solve them. People tell us we should produce photos that show uses, but we enjoy capturing the abstract quality of our products. People can apply their own ideas to them, then take on the second part of the design process by deciding what the thing is going to become.
We’re in the process of opening our studio up to absorb a number of ancillary offices, and part of that plan includes making a bunch of cabinets. Rather than having everything we’ve collected on display, we want to put most objects away and just revisit a few at a time to keep the space visually clean. When you do open the door to a cabinet, it’ll almost be like entering a small interior room.
The quality that has surprised us the most about paper is its sound absorption. We weren’t thinking about that so much initially. But after working with people who are using our walls as sound barriers, you really notice a difference.
For the paper-furniture gurus, design is incremental. Witness their latest product tweak: a new metal finish.