In a time of informal attitudes towards shaping space, and a continued desire for flexibility in how space can be used, it’s no surprise that there’s been a resurgence of interest in diaphanous wall screens and movable partition systems within the design community. Gone are the days – thankfully – of cubicle dividers covered in burgundy fabric, at least in the milieu of the aesthetically sensitive (you know, like the people who read this blog). So too are beads (along with the aged hippies who liked them), homasote on wood studs (except maybe in architecture schools), bedsheets on ropes (except maybe in some dorm rooms), and shower curtains (shower curtains?).
In their place we now have a veritable flood of tastefully composed products ranging from the most ethereal and permeable membrane to the well-constructed metal and glass assemblies that shimmer under the glare of our low-energy bulbs. We present here a small sampling of some of the more noteworthy pieces in this category we have come across for your viewing pleasure. Many are modular. And, to remind us that there is nothing new under the architectural sun, we start off with some designs by sculptor Erwin Hauer, who was among a group of artists that emerged primarily at Yale in the 1950s and is now known as Modular Constructivists. Hauer, we are happy to remark, is alive and well and continues his work out of a Connecticut studio, including a recent commission for the über-hip Standard Hotel in New York.
We might also let it be known that our interest in this particular object of design was sparked when we decided to create a portfolio of new modular designs executed in fabric and intended to hang on walls. While not meant to serve the pragmatic purposes to which most of the screens featured here aspire, we were obviously intrigued by the way designers have approached the problem of creating very thin and attractive planes out of soft materials and non-structural assemblies.
We hope to have this portfolio ready for its debut later this fall; in the meanwhile, you’ll just have to do with the visual feast we have drawn from the work of others. (If you’re new to this site or haven’t yet discovered this neat trick, you can click on the top image and see a slideshow of all the images at their full size. Captions will include information on the designer and product.)