Arcade, Ion, Rise, and Velo
Expanding on their collection of acoustic wall panels, the team at Submaterial is back again with four new designs that feature the on-edge detailing and curvilinear patterns they’ve become known for. Each draws from its own inspiration but comes together in a cohesive collection in Submaterial’s signature style and aesthetic, playing up the same bold line work and eye-catching patterns.
Historical architecture, the bold shapes and styles of mid-century graphic design, and of course, the surrounding landscape of New Mexico all play a part in the development of and inspiration behind the collection. We chatted with the design team at Submaterial to learn more about this evolving series of wallcoverings and where their designers are finding new inspiration. Catch our interview below to learn more about the most recent additions to the FilzFelt wall collection.
Tell us a bit about this new collection!
We first launched a collection of acoustic panel designs with FilzFelt back in 2017. Over the last six years, that first collection has become an established product for clients looking to create beautiful spaces that provide acoustic dampening. This new collection evolves and expands on those first Akustika panel designs. For some of these more recent patterns, we wanted to play with ideas such as symmetry, minimalism, and visual complexity.
Was this series designed as a collection, or do they each draw from their own inspiration?
Our designers created the four new panels, each with its own source of inspiration, but continuing in the Submaterial design aesthetic of bold line work and thoughtful graphic patterns.
Damian Garduño, Product Designer at Submaterial, designed the concepts for both Velo and Ion. For Velo, the design is visually complex, and the pattern creates engaging moments of lines converging and breaking away, forming shapes. The result of those moments was this pill or capsule shape. So while naming it, we began to see the shape of a velodrome (the course that bike races happen on).
The patterning for Ion was partly inspired by our earlier design of Duet. In Ion, the rounded shapes are broken open and create starbursts. For this design, the beautiful dark skies of northern New Mexico were also an inspiration. The line work was influenced by the dazzling streaks of stars across the sky captured in nighttime photography.
“For Ion, the beautiful dark skies of northern New Mexico were also an inspiration. The line work was influenced by the dazzling streaks of stars across the sky captured in nighttime photography.”
“For Velo, the pattern creates engaging moments of lines converging and breaking away, forming shapes. The result of those moments was this pill or capsule shape. So while naming it, we began to see the shape of a velodrome.”
David Hamlin, Founder and Creative Director, designed Rise and Arcade. The goal of Rise was to create the simplest and most elevated design with just two lines. It’s meant to feel quietly uplifting.
The repeating arches in Arcade are well-established and iconic graphic elements that are frequently seen in architecture, fashion, and graphic design. Arcade references this historical form but is rendered with Submaterial linework.
This collection features the on-edge detailing that Submaterial products have become known for. Where did this idea come?
For us, the on-edge details are all about adding dimensionality. With the on-edge details, we are engineering shadow and expressing the pattern with how the light falls on it at any given moment.
Sustainable materials like felt and cork are used in so many of Submaterial’s designs. Can you speak a bit about the significance of using sustainable materials in your work?
Natural and sustainable materials ground us on a primal level and connect us to the world and each other in ways that the synthetic simply can’t. Submaterial designs emphasize natural materials because that is what we want to experience in our homes and environments. Reducing chemical exposure has been very important for us, and we hope the manufacturing trend will move much more purposefully in this direction.
“The repeating arches in Arcade are well-established and iconic graphic elements that are frequently seen in architecture, fashion, and graphic design. Arcade references this historical form but is rendered with Submaterial linework.”
What makes felt such a good fit for your designs and products?
Our world is so full of things we don’t relate to as natural. So for us, it’s important to incorporate things that people can touch and bring them back to their place in the natural environment. Wool felt does that. We love its thickness, density, crisp, clean raw edges, and deeply saturated colors.
Are there any other sustainable materials you’re experimenting with? Any that you’re curious to work with in the future?
Since we began manufacturing felt wall coverings, we have used cork as a backing material. We are interested in bringing cork to the front and highlighting it for the beautiful and renewable material it is. Over the last few years, we have been working with wood and continue experimenting with thoughtful ways to bring wood into commercial and residential spaces.
You’ve said in the past that you find inspiration for new projects in the books, images, and materials you surround yourself with. What specifically surrounds you in your studio today? Any particular influences that have caught your eye lately?
Recently Damian has been exploring a catalog of mid-century graphic design and ads (billboards, record covers, etc.), which has been inspiring. Damian has also been influenced by and is experimenting with bulb photography and the night skies of New Mexico.
David has been deeply engaged with the writings of Maria Popova in The Marginalian. The newsletter/blog draws together ideas on philosophy, science, art, cultural criticism, etc. He has been inspired by the wealth of people curating the history of ideas and art, which can lead down so many different directions of exploration. He is excited by the wealth of thoughtfulness created in an approachable and of-the-moment way. David has also recently been energized by the artistic oeuvres of Hilma af Klimt and Lee Bontecou.
“Our world is so full of things we don’t relate to as natural. So for us, it’s important to incorporate things that people can touch and bring them back to their place in the natural environment. Wool felt does that. We love its thickness, density, crisp, clean raw edges, and deeply saturated colors.”
This collection features some particularly playful shapes and patterns. What feelings do you want each to elicit?
All of the designs in this new group use curvilinear linework. These rounded shapes can soften a space visually. The line work is playful and creates movement for the eye, not focusing on one particular detail but prompting the viewer to follow the lines throughout the patterns. After a challenging number of years for everyone, we want to brighten the space and moods of the people encountering Submaterial designs.
Submaterial principal David Hamlin studied fine art at University of Colorado Boulder, leaving in 1989 to explore the design opportunities of the Pacific Northwest. For the next twenty years he embraced magazine cover illustration, furniture design, retail and merchandising design and finally entrepreneurship with the launch of his first company in 2001. Established in 2006, Submaterial relocated to the American Southwest and has enjoyed extensive success including a 2014 Interior Design Best of Year Award.
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