November/December 2016: Partners in Design
Architecture Research Office’s 2013 redesign of Knoll’s Midtown showroom not only garnered awards but also won the Manhattan-based firm a new client. ARO’s inspired use of FilzFelt, which included wrapping an entire staircase in the high-quality material, made a product collaboration with the Knoll sister company a perfect fit. “They are architects, and architects are our target audience,” says Kelly Smith, creative director of FilzFelt.
With their shared interest in environmental responsibility, the two parties settled on a brief: find an elegant way to repurpose remnants from FilzFelt’s projects and production runs. The result, ARO Blocks, is a line of sound-absorbing tiles, panels, screens, and baffles.
The modular solutions feature scraps of the company’s Wool Design fabric mounted on 10-millimeter-thick PET acoustic substrate. The 100 percent VOC-free tiles come in four patterns—rectangles, asymmetric angles, and two sizes of triangles—and offer a 0.65 NRC. Dozens of colors are available. “The pieces are flexible and low-tech,” says ARO principal Kim Yao. They’re also a lesson in artful sustainability.