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CLAIR Q&A with Marybeth Shaw

September 29, 2020

To learn more about the inspi­ra­tion behind Wolf-Gor­don’s lat­est col­lec­tion, CLAIR, we spoke with Mary­beth Shaw, Chief Cre­ative Offi­cer, Mar­ket­ing & Design.

Can you elab­o­rate on the impe­tus for this collection?

Going back to April 2019 at the Salone in Milan, there were many exhi­bi­tions through­out the city that addressed cli­mate change, sus­tain­able design, and work­ing with nature, that is to say, coopt­ing nat­ur­al process­es into prod­uct design. Our under­stand­ing and depic­tion of nature has changed his­tor­i­cal­ly. There was a mag­nif­i­cent exhi­bi­tion of the 17th cen­tu­ry Ciclo di Orfeo” at the Palaz­zo Reale, in which a paint­ed mur­al of over 200 ani­mals sur­rounds a large draw­ing room’s occu­pants, com­ple­ment­ed by over 160 taxi­der­mied spec­i­mens. The four walls speak to the mag­nif­i­cent scope and diver­si­ty of the earth’s flo­ra and fau­na. Fast for­ward­ing to the present, at the Tri­en­nale in Par­co Sem­pi­one, MoMA Senior Cura­tor of Design Pao­la Antonel­li assem­bled diverse design projects that bore wit­ness to Bro­ken Nature: Design Takes on Human Sur­vival”. And, back in New York, the Wolf-Gor­don Design Stu­dio toured Nature” at the Coop­er Hewitt, our country’s nation­al design museum. 

The expe­ri­ence of these impact­ful exhi­bi­tions led us to seek ways in which our 2020 prod­uct line could man­i­fest nature’s influ­ence. We had been search­ing for a viable PVC-free wall­cov­er­ing — with type II per­for­mance and that print­ed and embossed well — for sev­er­al years. Serendip­i­tous­ly, at around the same time that we were being inspired by the Milan and New York exhi­bi­tions, one of our part­ner mills invit­ed us to work with them on a high per­form­ing PVC-free sub­strate, and Project: CLAIR™ was launched. Of course, we want­ed the designs to reflect the resur­gence in pat­tern and col­or influ­ences from nature.

How do the pat­terns reflect the influ­ence of both nature and sustainability?

Aes­thet­i­cal­ly, CLAIR pat­terns have clear ties to nature:

  • In the cat­e­go­ry of clas­sic designs, Ard­ley, Cas­tine, Lua­na and Surin are pat­terns that repli­cate nat­ur­al cot­ton can­vas, burlap and silk.
  • For more con­tem­po­rary char­ac­ter, Ard­ley Cove and Zura project the exquis­ite geo­met­ric order of nat­ur­al struc­tures, while Denali is a larg­er scale aquarelle design that resem­bles the effects of weath­er­ing on stone.
  • Taiga and Pan­do are pat­terns that are quite lit­er­al­ly derived from tree grain and bark; and, Sono­ra is an abstract depic­tion of geo­log­i­cal strata.

Need­less to say, the col­or lines for CLAIR were also inspired by nat­ur­al pig­ments, flo­ra and earthtones.

Sus­tain­abil­i­ty—and CLAIR’s rel­e­vance for design­ers seek­ing inte­ri­or fin­ish­es for well­ness — was our pri­or­i­ty. CLAIR is com­pli­ant with: 

  • The Liv­ing Build­ing Challenge/​Red List;
  • Mind­ful Materials
  • Cal 01350 low emis­sion requirements
  • Kaiser Per­ma­nente
  • The Health­i­er Hos­pi­tals Initiative
  • And, has a Health Prod­uct Dec­la­ra­tion, ensur­ing trans­par­ent reporting.
What attrib­ut­es make CLAIR unique as a PVC-free option? Is this Wolf-Gor­don’s first PVC-free collection?

CLAIR is a pro­pri­etary olefin com­pos­ite, man­u­fac­tured in the USA with evo™ PVC-free tech­nol­o­gy. It is made with 20% recy­cled con­tent, print­ed with low-VOC, water­based inks, and is free of all Red List chem­i­cals, includ­ing con­flict min­er­als, heavy met­als, per­flu­o­ri­nat­ed com­pounds, phtha­lates, and solvents. 

CLAIR’s high per­form­ing attrib­ut­es make it the best PVC-free option that Wolf-Gor­don has ever intro­duced. Pre­vi­ous­ly, we offered ther­mo­plas­tic olefin (TPO) wall­cov­er­ings that, while PVC-free, did not have CLAIR’s print and emboss capa­bil­i­ties, ease of instal­la­tion, or dura­bil­i­ty. Wolf-Gor­don had also, begin­ning in 2009, offered the Organ­ics Col­lec­tion, made of kenaf, poly­lac­tic acid (PLA) and recy­cled news­pa­pers. It was great from the per­spec­tive of sus­tain­abil­i­ty, includ­ing being recy­clable, but fell short of type II com­mer­cial wall­cov­er­ing per­for­mance and could not achieve the print and col­or qual­i­ties required by our market.

Where do you envi­sion CLAIR being used?

CLAIR is designed and engi­neered for all com­mer­cial inte­ri­ors — cor­po­rate, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, health­care, insti­tu­tion­al — and has met or exceed­ed all Fed Spec CCC-W-408 per­for­mance require­ments for type II. We are so cer­tain that spec­i­fiers are going to appre­ci­ate this prod­uct that we sent sam­ples of CLAIR to 10,000 inte­ri­or design­ers across the US. We know they’re going to want to expe­ri­ence CLAIR’s tear and ten­sile strength for them­selves and, exam­ine the print and emboss quality. 

Final­ly, I want to men­tion that, giv­en the recent resur­gence in spec­i­fi­ca­tions of eas­i­ly cleaned and dis­in­fect­ed inte­ri­or mate­ri­als, CLAIR is bleach clean­able at a 1:10 ratio. It can be cleaned with 70% iso­propyl alco­hol, 4.5% hydro­gen per­ox­ide, qua­ter­nary com­pounds and oth­er agents on the EPA’s List N. 

CLAIR is tru­ly an ele­gant and ide­al solu­tion for today’s sus­tain­able interiors.