Forceof Nature 1400x900

Lookbook: Defying Gravity Collaborative Installations


Crystalline Dragon

Neocon® 2012

Force of Nature

Neocon® 2013

The Ribbon Cloud

Neocon® 2014


Neocon® 2015

Wolf-Gordon Installations

Between 2012 and 2015, Wolf-Gor­don sur­prised Neo­Con atten­dees with awe-inspir­ing sculp­tur­al instal­la­tions above the main esca­la­tor — essen­tial­ly hov­er­ing over the main civic space — of the Mer­chan­dise Mart. The pre­cip­i­tous loca­tion of the instal­la­tions was ide­al for infus­ing col­or, pat­tern, and form into our industry’s pre­mier trade con­ven­tion. Wolf-Gordon’s CCO, Mary­beth Shaw, worked with design­ers Hjalti Karls­son and Jan Wilk­er of karlsson­wilk­er, engi­neer and fab­ri­ca­tor Jorge Per­reira of The New Motor, and archi­tect Gra­ham Kel­man to real­ize these chal­leng­ing projects that served to sup­port the Wolf-Gor­don brand while cel­e­brat­ing the ambi­tions of com­mer­cial inte­ri­ors in a com­mu­nal setting.

In 2012, the Crys­talline Drag­on,” a 1,380-pound struc­ture that appeared to radi­ate ener­gy, was com­posed of over 250 faceted pan­els cov­ered in over 500 yards of Wolf-Gordon’s wall­cov­er­ing, uphol­stery tex­tiles, and archi­tec­tur­al paint finishes.

The next year, 2013, saw the instal­la­tion of a decep­tive­ly sim­ple feat of engi­neer­ing: Force of Nature” was designed as a bar­rel roll of repet­i­tive pan­els con­nect­ed by ver­te­brae. A slight taper­ing on one side of each blue con­nect­ing box cre­at­ed a twist­ed spine that gave a sense of move­ment. Near­ly 30′ long and 14′ wide, this instal­la­tion fea­tured 136 Wolf-Gor­don prod­ucts arranged by col­or, form­ing a gra­di­ent that spanned from warm col­ors in one direc­tion to cool­er shades in the oppo­site direction.

Hav­ing fea­tured ani­mal and min­er­al themes in the first two projects, the design team imag­ined leafy strips of botan­i­cal inspi­ra­tion in 2014’s Rib­bon Cloud,” an assem­blage of twelve, 12-foot sculp­tur­al rib­bons” that inter­twined around a grid­ded truss for visu­al com­plex­i­ty. To form iden­ti­cal arc­ing and twist­ing pan­els, Per­reira built a mas­sive cus­tom form­work to which he mold­ed water­logged pan­els, one by one, before dry­ing them and cladding them in Wolf-Gordon’s sur­fac­ing materials.

Fol­low­ing three suc­ces­sive ana­log sculp­tures, the 2015 instal­la­tion went dig­i­tal with SLICE”, a thir­ty-foot-long mono­lith with a screen of over fif­teen thou­sand LEDs. Addi­tion­al design, fab­ri­ca­tion, pro­gram­ming, and instal­la­tion were con­duct­ed by A‑V Con­trols. Once again sus­pend­ed over the main esca­la­tor bank, SLICE cre­at­ed an inno­v­a­tive inter­ac­tion between rid­er and sculp­ture. Hid­den in the LED pan­els were cam­eras that record­ed images of each esca­la­tor rid­er and dis­played their like­ness at the begin­ning of the ride.” As one ascend­ed, one’s like­ness became pro­gres­sive­ly more decon­struct­ed into abstract fields of col­or. As a fol­low-up to the Neo­Con instal­la­tion, karlsson­wilk­er took record­ed footage from SLICE and cre­at­ed a dig­i­tal print wall­cov­er­ing that bears its name, in Wolf-Gordon’s Curat­ed Collection.

The sculp­tur­al instal­la­tions dur­ing 2012 – 2015 also pro­vid­ed cohe­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tions themes for Wolf-Gor­don, a process that is well-doc­u­ment­ed in the company’s 2017 pub­li­ca­tion, Sam­ple Book: 50 Years of Inte­ri­or Fin­ish­es.

Beyond their visu­al­ly arrest­ing impact for show atten­dees, our sculp­tur­al instal­la­tions at Neo­Con are an essen­tial, uni­fy­ing fea­ture of our com­mu­ni­ca­tions, as we aim to speak to our audi­ence about mean­ing and process. We design our annu­al ad cam­paign around the real stages of con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing and devel­op­ing the sculp­ture, between Jan­u­ary and June; then, we fea­ture pho­tog­ra­phy of the com­plet­ed, installed sculp­ture dur­ing the sec­ond half of the year, focus­ing on spe­cif­ic prod­ucts on the dis­play.”
—Mary­beth Shaw, CCO, Wolf-Gordon

Essen­tial to the ad cam­paigns, as well as to social media and oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions on the sculp­tures, were the exquis­ite still pho­tographs and videos tak­en by pho­tog­ra­ph­er James Shanks. Such sto­ry­telling, which edu­cat­ed design­ers and spec­i­fiers about Wolf-Gordon’s design-cen­tric phi­los­o­phy and con­tin­ues via this ret­ro­spec­tive on our web­site, is not pos­si­ble with­out a robust visu­al archive.

Design Team 12x12

About the Design Team

Karlssonwilker is a small, tight-knit team of designers, active in the fields of branding, signage, way-finding, and environmental design, as well as in packaging, interactive, fashion, strategy, and ideation, for the cultural and corporate sectors. Hjalti and Jan frequently lecture on their design process and hold sought-after creative workshops for professionals and students worldwide.

The New Motor is a full-service fabrication studio that works closely with fine artists, designers, brands, and architects to engineer, manage, and fabricate boundary-pushing installations. They don’t cut corners, have a borderline neurotic attention to detail, and a passion for the experimental.

Graham Kelman is a NY-based multi-disciplinary architect whose passion is to make physical installations, environments, and elements that leave an impact. He consults with architects, brands, agencies, creative individuals, artists, and designers from concept through fabrication. He communicates original ideas through digital visualization and his knowledge of design/build ensures that the final execution carries the integrity of the initial ideas to fruition.

Marybeth Shaw heads up product design and marketing as Chief Creative Officer at Wolf-Gordon. Her education in architecture and business, as well as experience leading her own design studio from 2004-11, inform her design-focused approach to brand building. Her passion is assembling talented design teams to undertake (big) projects.

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