Behind the Design
ICFF Oasis Hanging Panels
For the 2023 International Contemporary Furniture Fair, FilzFelt partnered with über-talented Rodolfo Agrella on a series of custom Hanging Panels that spotlight the endangered flora surrounding New York City. The panels will be located in the fair’s Oasis, a space where visitors can rest and recharge from May 21-23, 2023.
Rodolfo combines the softness of wool felt and nature-inspired imagery to create a quiet and soothing atmosphere for the space as well as make a subtle nod to the message of sustainability, which is the design’s inspiration. Wanting to bring an array of natural elements to the design, Rodolfo implemented this nifty natural material in a deep shade of green with CNC cut patterns that depict eight endangered species.
We connected with Rodolfo about the evolution of the space, his love for natural materials, and what he and his team have planned for the year ahead!
Tell us about the inspiration behind your design for the Oasis at ICFF!
For the Oasis, we wanted to bring a natural component related to New York, filtered through a design lens. So we researched and selected various endangered flora from the state, studied their formal composition, and then dissected, illustrated, and rearranged them on a rigid grid composition to create huge botanical plaques per species. These carved-out felt plaques are architectonically distributed as a perimeter around the space and hit with stage light to enhance their presence and allow the carved-out sections to cast shadows as a metaphor for the impact of nature in the city.
What makes felt such a good fit for these designs?
Felt is a fascinating material, particularly when used for non-traditional components, such as floating carved-out panels. Its natural provenance relates to the spirit of the space and the necessity to bring organic materials beyond an aesthetic purpose to contribute to sound absorption and architectural distribution in a fairground environment.
“For the Oasis, we wanted to bring a natural component related to New York, filtered through a design lens. So we researched and selected various endangered flora from the state, studied their formal composition, and then dissected, illustrated, and rearranged them on a rigid grid composition to create huge botanical plaques per species.”
Are you currently working with any other natural materials that excite you?
We are currently doing extensive research on pigments and their cultural power to better understand color as a working material for design.
Are there any materials you’re curious to work with in the future?
Food! Understanding food through the lens of design is something I’m enthusiastic about. Especially the idea of ephemeral design that has to do with nurturing humans and everything related to cultivating, processing, and consuming produce in a clean and sustainable way––we can all live without a chair, but not without food.
What significance does sustainability play in your work?
For me and my group at RADS, a sustainable project can be achieved by the quality of the design, its manufacturing process, and its function longevity, independent of the material in which it is fabricated. Some contemporary objects tagged as sustainable, recyclable, or biodegradable tend to last less, becoming more waste which implies more processes and energy to transform them into something useful again.
What does a typical day in your studio look like?
There’s no typical day! Constant change is part of the routine, every day is completely different, and we love that. Even though we’re based in New York City, our team is spread worldwide, with different time zones, cultures, and languages. Depending on the project, we gather physically or virtually to discuss the scope of a project and assign tasks and timelines, and once the rules of the game are set, we all start to play.
What’s inspiring you these days? (any art, books, designers, or exhibitions you’re finding inspiration in?)
Traveling is a huge inspiration resource. Confronting yourself with different cultures without judgment and dissecting their sociological components through a design lens fascinates me. Theater and movies are also great for inspiration, particularly for narrating product stories. But the most inspiring thing for me is to walk around New York.
What projects are on the horizon for you? What are you excited to work on in the year ahead?
We are excited about expanding our group and getting involved with more disciplines not traditionally considered part of the design world, such as gastronomy, dance, music, and spirituality. In addition, we are developing a few projects that will have a global impact on connecting the past and future in the present.
About Rodolfo Agrella
New York-based Venezuelan designer and architect Rodolfo Agrella has built a diverse portfolio which has earned him international recognition. Case in point is his Shadow salad bowl with servers inspired by the shadow play of the foliage canopy of the tropical rainforest of Venezuela, which scooped the prestigious 2015 German Design Award. Through his playful experimental approach, Agrella unites bold sensual shapes and graphics with a deep grasp of colour and materials, translating his sensory memory from the tropics into an international language.