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Design Miami's Deconstructed Tent

Though Design Miami wrapped up a month ago, Moorhead & Moorhead's installation begs to be revisited. In a take on a standard event tent, brothers Granger and Robert Moorhead manipulated the exterior, forming a latticed skin that makes for a remarkable play of light and shadow. Says Granger Moorhead, "We first wanted to embrace the existing form and structure of a typical tent, while manipulating or deconstructing its surface." Though the tent's shell is quite spectacular, the Konstantin Grcic-designed seating installation is also not to be missed. Granger chatted with us about the project, the design process, and what is was like to work with Grcic.

Konstantin Grcic (honored as Design Miami's designer of the year) elected to create a seating installation titled "Netscape" in the center of the shed.

How did this come project about?
Two years ago, when Design Miami outgrew its original home, an old industrial building in Miami’s Design District, it decided to commission architect-designed temporary structures to help set it apart from the sea of standard rental tents which pop-up in Miami every year during Art Basel.
Why did you decide to use vinyl?
Our design process often starts by selecting an everyday industrial material and investigating the properties that make it unique. In this case, we thought typical tent vinyl was an obvious choice. It was durable, yet pliable, easy to cut, yet difficult to tear. It also allowed us to embrace the typical clear-span rental tent as much as possible, limiting our interventions to strategic points where the impact would be greatest.
Did the region's temperature figure into your decision?
The warm Miami winter sun was definitely a driving force behind the design. The decision to deconstruct the typical tent panel, through a pattern of cutting and pinching, came directly out of our desire to open up the tent to create a partially-shaded open-air space where people could linger. We also wanted the surface of the tent, as well as the courtyard space, to be activated by the dramatic shadows cast by the intense Miami sun, so the climate was also an influence in developing the volumetric quality of the lattice pattern itself.
What challenges or setbacks did you encounter during the construction/building process?
Most of our efforts went into refining how the pattern behaved. The pinching process tensioned the panel, making much tauter than a typical tent panel. It required several full scale mock-ups experimenting with panel width, slit locations, and vinyl weight, to get the volumetric latticework we wanted.
How much back-and-forth did you have with Konstantin? Were you aware of his plan for the seating design in your initial planning stages for the courtyard?
Our intention was always to have a large-scale seating element in the entry courtyard space. Early in the project, Design Miami met with Konstantin Grcic and showed him renderings of the tent design. When it came time for him to select the location for his Designer of the Year installation, he was adamant about doing a seating installation in the courtyard – we loved the idea. When we were shown his early renderings for Netscape, his seating installation, it was clear he understood the spirit of the space, and there really wasn’t any need for back-and-forth!
What did you do with the vinyl after the show concluded?
As I mentioned earlier, our strategy was to embrace the typical rental tent as much as possible. All of the structure and almost 90% of the vinyl was returned to the tent company for future use as part of standard rental tents.

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