© 2017 PRODUCE.Workshop Pte Ltd. 

Herman Miller Pavilion v.2
FABRICWOOD
Singapore, 2016
Winner of World Interior of the Year 2017 INSIDE Festival
Winner of Best Display Interior 2017 INSIDE Festival
Best Use of Material Jury's Choice 2018 FRAME Award
Prix Versailles South Asia and the Pacific 2018 Special Prize for an Interior (Shops & Stores)
Gold Medal for Retail 2016 Singapore Interior Design Awards

The brief was developed by studying Herman Miller’s core body of work - Chairs. Herman Miller’s extensive range of chairs can be broadly categorised into two important families from two different eras – the heritage series, characterised by the Eames’ moulded plywood chairs and the Ergonomic work chairs, widely known for their emphasis on comfort achieved through formal, structural and material innovation to “mould” the chair to the human body. These chairs embody their philosophy, culture and aspirations; a desire to constantly innovate, integrate technology with design and produce high quality, purposeful, human-centred products.​

Learning from the design processes of Herman Miller’s chairs, the design research was geared towards a material exploration of plywood to form a lightweight plywood envelope that is “moulded” to its host – XTRA. The envelope shall form an independent entity that plugs into the shop space of XTRA that allows visual links yet maintains the unique identity of both parties. Revisiting traditional techniques of shaping timber and plywood reveals that plywood is normally curved in one direction forming “developable surfaces”; geometrically, like a cylinder. To form doubly curved surfaces or “non-developable” surfaces, one has to either restrain the bending and twisting on a rigid frame, such as in traditional boat construction, nicknamed the “tortured ply or timber construction”, or use adhesive and heat treatment to press layers of ply into a stagnant form. Tortured ply construction will require extensive structural framework and it is too labour intensive while the heat press moulding method would be too costly. Fabricwood is based on the possibility of manipulating flat pieces of plywood to form multi-curvature surfaces.

Reminded of Herman Miller’s attempt of shaping an elastic mesh to “mould” against the human body, we looked into the traditional tailoring technique that shapes fabric to the body. Traditional pattern making utilises a method of material subtraction and addition called “darts” to shape the surfaces of fabric. We wanted to test the possibility of shaping large full-sized pieces of plywood using darts – simply by removing material and closing up the slits.

The new Herman Miller shop-in-shop is a fabric-like surface that appears to be casually pulled across the entire 8m volume. The rippling on the surface increased the “softness” the plywood making it appear to be stagnant in the wind. The circular cut-outs allowing for tolerance on the surface, along with the cable ties and rivets are signature of this material system expressing its intuitive mechanical workings. The overall ambience is one akin to a bazaar where simple tent canopies are pulled across the street. Alongside the Herman Miller structure, the design for the rest of space in XTRA followed the idea of pop-up stores in a bazaar creating a more approachable and casual atmosphere.