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Fabric panels for a new design discipline

Graphics | March 1, 2013 | By:

The project. To design and produce six large informational fabric panels that explain the meaning and importance of rural design for the exhibition Rural Design: A New Design Discipline. The exhibition, on view from January 28–March 10 at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, was organized by the College of Design’s (CDES) The Goldstein Museum of Design.

Since the show will travel, fabric panels, not foam-core-backed panels, were determined to be the optimal solution. Designed by Jeanne Schacht, the 84 by 120-inch panels are divided into 18 individual components: 12 at 36 inches wide and 6 at 48 inches wide. The panels are a colorful mix of image and text.

The companies. Rural Design was a collaborative project between Thorbeck Architects, Saint Paul, Minn., Banner Creations, Minneapolis, Minn., and The Goldstein Museum of Design at the U of M’s College of Design.

The task. For Schacht, the task was to produce graphics that would explain the meaning and importance of rural design in a clear and concise way. For Banner Creations, the task was to design and construct banners that would be aesthetically pleasing, easily readable and enhance the subject matter.

The challenge. To work within a modest budget and design and construct the fabric panels so that they could be mounted easily on armatures for touring. Due to budget constraints those armatures were not fabricated for the exhibition premier. “It was a challenge to scale-back like this and not fabricate the frames for the client,” stated Nora Norby, president of Banner Creations.

The solution. To design, manufacture and print the 18 panels on EcoPhab™ fabric that is made from recycled plastic bottles. EcoPhab is completely sustainable and “can go back to the mill to be recycled,” states Norby. For the initial exhibition, the panels will be mounted on dowel rods both at the top and bottom. “We constructed the banners so they will work on a framing system in the future—so they will not have to be redone,” explained Norby. Because the goal is to broadly travel this exhibition to low security locations at low cost to the venues, durable stretched fabric over a simple framework was a good solution

The result. An informative and visually accessible exhibition using sustainable materials.

Mason Riddle is a freelance writer based in St. Paul, Minn.

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