2016 vmodern Furniture Design Competition
/ by Jordan Crawford
This fall, Gettliffe Architecture participated in the 2016 VMODERN Furniture Design Competition. The competition’s goal was to “promote the most creative pieces of furniture that will transform the way we live and interact with our environment.” As a studio, Gettliffe Architecture sought to pair the design competition with our “Place-making Initiative” and strived to develop a piece of furniture that would contribute to the Boulder Steel Yards community.
While businesses in the Steel Yards have succeeded at inviting foot traffic into the area, the small central park remains unnoticed and underutilized. It is a square, featureless area of grass that remains empty while the sidewalks and medians surrounding the adjacent storefronts teem with patrons. Our mission was to create a site-specific piece for the Steel Yards that would redirect pedestrians to the park by accommodating multiple functions, promoting physical movement, and nurturing the human body through awareness of ergonomics and scale.
The concept of a ribbon came into fruition through its historic symbolism as a non-verbal tool of communication. The developed piece taps into this symbolism transforming urban isolation into collaboration. By expanding and facilitating community functions, we can inspire social collisions that would not have happened otherwise.
To achieve this concept, three separate pieces were strategically placed within the Steel Yards. These three pieces are united in a forced perspective from a point at the entrance to The Steel Yards, forming a bold blue wave of ribbon that extends a full block away into the park. When engaging the pieces individually, each provides a platform for multiple uses – shelter, sitting, eating, stretching, sleeping, meeting, working, reading, etc. The playful, unexpected shapes are formed in stainless steel and coated in electric blue automotive-style paint. The steel provides the flexible strength required for the design, while also anchoring the piece within the history of the site. While sculptural in appearance, each piece encourages interaction and use, upturning the traditional concept of sacrosanct or untouchable art.
As each piece is encountered, a dialogue emerges between them. Ribbon #1 rises from the grass to create a protective shell around the user. Ribbon #2’s loop configuration encourages side-by-side seating, shaping an intimacy. The loop itself also echoes the larger intentions of the project, as a symbol of reciprocity and giving back. Ribbon #3, the piece situated within the park, expresses communal table seating in a whimsical and iconic shape. Food and conversation can be easily shared, breaking down social barriers. Throughout the sequence, there is a progression and continuity of expression. As they increase in scale, they further compel face-to-face interaction with other users.
The 2016 VMODERN Furniture Design Competition was an excellent opportunity for Gettliffe Architecture to further our connection and collaboration within the community around us. Whether we are designing a building or a small piece of furniture, we strive to foster positive human relationships and closer connection to nature.