Where’s Walter? Architex’s Whimsical CAD-inspired Textiles

With #NeoCon 09 some six weeks gone, with the thousands of exhibitors having long since packed up their wares and moved homeward, one might think the event is all but a distant memory. Perhaps so, yet I suspect the exhibit will continue to wave its multiple appendages at us from time to time—in the form of new product from featured exhibitors like Architex, for example, whose Green Collaboration of fabric, carpet, wallcovering, and furniture caught the eye of fellow 3ringer Alicita Rodriguez last month.

Where’s Walter from the Walter Buhl Ford 11 Homage Collection. Manufactured by Architex.

This month, the New York Design Center‘s 5th Annual “First Look” presents Architex’s “Where’s Walter”—”a fabric line covered in infinite and intricate floor plans and as you would see them in CAD” (Designer Pages Blog). Part of Architex’s WBF2 concept (Walter Buhl Ford II Homage Collection), the Where’s Walter line is also an homage to author Martin Handford’s series of illustrated children’s books, Where’s Waldo, wherein within each page of teeming, tiny humanity engaged in multiple and manifold tasks resides one “Waldo,” the bespectacled, stocking-capped, and stripe-shirted protagonist of the series. The reader’s task, then, was to locate Waldo among the minutiae of each be-populated scene (no small task at that). Architex’s take on the concept points to the famed interior and industrial designer (the WB Ford II alluded to above), but also to the intricate pattern of the fabric, which not only resembles CAD floor plans, but also Phoenician hieroglyphics, computer bitmaps, and an aerial view of some fanatical futurist’s take on multi-density housing.


Michel Thonet’s 1298 Lounge upholstered in Where’s Walter by Architex.

It’s an intriguing (if dizzying) pattern, and one that would look just smashing on iconic pieces like Michel Thonet‘s gorgeous 1298 Lounge Chair. This mid-century piece by the Austrian master of bentwood is a forefather of modern design. Its persistence as a collector’s item and model for contemporary design testifies to such. So—much like the multiple re-upholsterings of the Eames Chair featured on 3rings—Architex has chosen the elegant simplicity and ergonomic profile of 1298 as the perfect canvas on which to paint “Where’s Walter.” The combo works rather well. Though the fabric can be a bit stupefying when viewed up close, much in the manner of the pointillist masterpiece Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, a step or two away reveals an alluring coalescence that graces 1298 in a slightly daring yet somewhat conventional patterned print. Where’s Walter is available in brick, charcoal, nutmeg, brown, and granite—any of which makes an intriguing counterpoint to the chair’s minimalist bentwood design.

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