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Behind the Curtain: Innovation, Creativity, and Collaboration at Wolf-Gordon

November 22, 2019

I don’t like stuff,’” pro­claims Mary­beth Shaw, the chief cre­ative offi­cer, design and mar­ket­ing, of the Amer­i­can inte­ri­or fin­ish­ings com­pa­ny Wolf-Gor­don. Her aus­tere office in its Man­hat­tan head­quar­ters cor­rob­o­rates Shaw’s dis­dain for need­less clut­ter; it’s archi­tect-tidy, with books and effects con­cealed behind cab­i­nets, and nary a stray sheet of paper atop her white desk. As the dri­ving force behind Wolf-Gordon’s uphol­stery, wall­cov­er­ing, and wall pro­tec­tion prod­ucts, she has made it her mis­sion to deliv­er prod­ucts that tran­scend stuff” and exem­pli­fy her notion of good design.”

Shaw over­sees a stu­dio of young design­ers who gen­er­ate Wolf-Gordon’s in-house col­lec­tions, devel­oped large­ly to serve the con­tract, hos­pi­tal­i­ty, and health-care mar­kets. Since 2001, she has also been aug­ment­ing these stan­dard lines with licensed tex­tile col­lec­tions by invit­ed col­lab­o­ra­tors, bring­ing a glob­al per­spec­tive to Wolf-Gordon’s catalog.

For Shaw, these com­mis­sions pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to look at the big­ger pic­ture— to push design into new ter­ri­to­ry by think­ing beyond mar­ket con­ven­tions to ask instead, What does the world need? What does our soul need?”

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