When Architects and Manufacturers Work Together, Beautiful Design Emerges

Collaboration doesn’t always guarantee commercial success, but when the creative pairing is right, it can yield beautiful results.

Sheila Kim Sheila Kim

We’ve spoken a lot in recent weeks about the need for architects to get back in touch with materials and understand how building-products work, and one of the best sources of knowledge on this front undoubtedly is the manufacturers behind that stuff. While much can be gained from communicating with the brands that make these components and learning from design precedents, some go further still, working together with industrial designers on projects that constitute a seamless blend of architectural design and building-products.

Collaboration doesn’t always guarantee commercial success, but when the creative pairing is right, it can yield outstanding results. We witnessed this in a number of new products featured in Architizer’s A+Awards program, from lighting and bath fixtures to furniture and decorative surfaces, designed in collaboration with architects and interior, graphic and industrial designers whose names you may recognize. Here, we take a look at 12 award-winning collaborations that prove that when architects and manufacturers work together throughout the life cycle of a project, truly beautiful things can emerge.


Allsteel, HOK and BMW Designworks

With open-plan offices continuing to combat privacy and noise issues, product manufacturers have been presenting solutions in the forms of booths and cocoons. This trio developed the latest solution, Clubhouse, as a freestanding architectural structure within a structure. It boasts a clean-lined cube-shaped frame with one or two openings, taut textile walls, cushy seating and several optional add-ons such as integrated tables and media walls.


Artemide and Bjarke Ingels Group

BIG Alphabet of Light is a newly developed font rendered in light using LEDs and a patented optical system. The surface-mount uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers boast evenly diffused illumination in a color temperature of 3,000K and in two different lumen outputs.


Flos and Jasper Morrison

The super-flat and thin disc of Superloon, designed by Jasper Morrison, projects evenly diffused light thanks to innovative LED edge lighting technology. Reminiscent of the moon in the night sky, the disc rotates 360 degrees on its tripod-like base and dims from 100 to 0 percent to a warm white-color temperature.


Gispen and Mecanoo architecten

HUBB was developed specifically for higher education settings where curriculums and study and relaxation needs tend to be diverse and frequently change for every occupant. The modular furniture thus accommodates a range of activities and can be combined into different configurations as well as to form space dividers.


HBF Textiles and Christiane Müller

Dimension and tactility define the Christiane Müller Collection conceived by the Amsterdam-based designer of the same name. Patterns range from a velvety ombre that begs to be touched to a puffed-square grid in neutral to vibrant color-ways.


Herman Miller and jehs+laub

The construction of high-performance ski boots inspired the multilayered design of the Striad Lounge Chair and Ottoman. The outermost shell is rigid, while its interior face is fully upholstered. Then, individually upholstered foam cushions provide comfort and support in different sections of the chair. Available in a four-star auto-return base or four-leg wire base, the chair comes in low-, mid- or high-back versions.


Lucifer Lighting and Vincent Van Duysen

Inspired by the Bauhaus design language, Belgian architect and designer Van Duysen conceived the eye-catching Infra-Structure lighting system as an industrial, exposed tubular structure that forms a network along the ceiling. The architectural frame attaches to vertical stems that hold simple disc-shaped lights.


Porcelanosa, Noken Design and Zaha Hadid Design

The Vitae collection is an entire bath suite comprising toilets, shelving, faucets, wash basins and a bathtub, all of which sport a bold design of contours that one might expect from Zaha Hadid.


Popham design and Bade Stageberg Cox

Designers and clients alike crave uniqueness, naturally, so when architecture firm Bade Stageberg Cox created Girih encaustic cement tiles, it set out to design a pattern that never repeats for a true one-off installation. In order to achieve this, the project team drew on two shapes from ancient Islamic geometry and then applied 12 aperiodic patterns.


Skyline Design and Scholten & Baijings

Dutch design studio Scholten & Baijings plays with simple dots and squares to produce the patterns in the Glass Gradients collection. These etched and printed patterns can be customized with regard to dot or square scale, color and spacing, while the glass substrate can also be specified in different colors or opacity to meet any light-filtering, privacy or aesthetic need.


Shaw Hospitality and Rockwell Group

Ethereal Beauty is a hospitality flooring collection created in collaboration with award-winning architecture and design firm Rockwell Group. Subtly and abstractly the patterns reference objects or scenes found in nature from botanical blooms to mist-covered mountains. The commercial-grade line consists of broadloom, modular carpet tile, rugs and runners in a soothing neutral palette.


Tarkett and Various

The resilient flooring manufacturer banked on not one, but several design luminaries to deliver the Collections Infinies last year: Suzanne Tick, K&Co, D.B. Kim, 2×4 and Sagmeister & Walsh. This, of course, resulted in diverse styles and patterns produced in LVT, but what innovates this line more is that you can play with scale and color to make it your own.

This article was contributed to by Paul Keskeys.

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