In the 2020 IFAI Virtual Expo presentation, “The Inside Scoop on Shade, Lighting and Acoustics,” Cynthia Thompson, MFA, president and founder of Transformit in Gorham, Maine, wowed conference participants with a slideshow of her company’s projects that highlight the stunning possibilities of interior fabric architecture. Thompson said many different markets can make use of permanent and temporary interior fabric installations including events, trade show exhibits, retail, museums, hospitality, public spaces and art installations. She says each project involves both practical and artistic considerations. On the practical side, fabrics can be used to improve acoustics and absorb sound, digital printing can improve signage, wayfinding and marketing, and strategic shapes and siting can provide interior shade control and daylighting.
“You can’t do practical without the art, and you can’t do the art without the practical,” says Thompson.
She encouraged participants to be aware of fire codes, sprinklers, building codes and laundering considerations before starting a project. Laundering is especially important, and Thompson suggested incorporating zippers so that fabric could be removed easily and selling a cleaning service package with the work to ensure it stays in excellent condition. And because lighting is such a challenging aspect of interior fabric work, Thompson said it was critical to do prototypes for customers to try things out and make sure their goals are met.
Thompson attributes the tremendous market interest in interior fabric architecture projects to new and evolving fabrics and technologies. “Years ago, my only printing option was silkscreen,” she says. “Now I’ve got 50 fabrics to choose from and all sorts of amazing digital processes to create amazing outcomes. Fabric innovation has moved the market forward. The more people that are in this market, the more competition there will be and the more we can continue to move forward.”
Registration for IFAI Virtual Expo 2020 is open through Nov. 12. All Expo sessions will be posted on the Virtual Expo platform for viewing during Expo and for 30 days after Expo has concluded.