Moth Wing Screen

Rab McClure


Inspired by contemporary Nordic design—characterized by fluidity of form, material innovation, tactile warmth, natural reference, and ties to a strong craft tradition—the Moth Wing Screen is a modular partition and design research project. The following essay describes the work’s goals and origins, beginning with first person reflections by the author on the sensory and tactile lessons of water skiing, a formative childhood preoccupation. Paired with excerpts from essays on seeing, drawing, and sensing by Juhani Pallasmaa, these reflections frame the discussion and provide a means of viewing the work through a lens of tactile warmth and softness. A description of the project follows, alongside drawings, diagrams, prototypes, and illustrative examples from the work of Alvar Aalto, Finn Juhl, Tapio Wirkkala, and others. The project and its description argue in favor of creating a role for softness in modern design, with softness defined in terms of form, surface, density, materiality and meaning. The Design Case article format provides a rare opportunity to present the project’s conceptual underpinnings—in the form of a formal article presentation—alongside an exhibit of prototypes, original drawings, and the built artifact.

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