At some point early on in a young designer’s training, he or she will have the opportunity to start collecting product samples. At first the collection will be small: some fabric swatches, a fan deck, a tiny granite slab, and a few pieces of wood flooring in a variety of stains. An older, more experienced designer will tell the young designer-in-training, “Someday, you’ll have too many samples and you’ll just want to get rid of them. They junk-up your office and take up too much space. Trust me.” The younger designer won’t trust this, and will proceed to go on collecting as many life-changing 4” x 4” squares of design porn that will never be used in a project but will make stunning content for organizational boxes.
I got my first *real* opportunity to start building a massive arsenal of fabric samples at Knoll. About a half dozen of us were escorted through the showroom on a class visit, and after getting our fill of Platner and Saarinen tables we were deposited in a back room with gleaming white lacquer walls and handed black fabric totes displaying the Knoll logo. Then…the walls opened up and about sixty-eight billionfinity squares of commercial grade fabric were in front of us. “Take as many as you want. No, really, as many as you want,” said the product rep. I took about 200. Ok, I took about 300.
That was years ago, and now, as a designer with a HOME office in a condo that fits me, my husband, our toddler, and a large cat comfortably, it’s becoming a challenge to house my office in a way that is manageable. I’ve taken to hauling some samples in when I teach my continuing education classes and practically begging students to take them from me; they’re always too polite and take two, maybe three things. I’ve come up with some creative ways to re-purpose recycled glass counter top squares and 3-Form pieces, but a girl needs to save some writing material for later so that’s for another blog post. I just can’t figure out what to do with this box of hundreds of tiny fabric samples, and the hoarder in me won’t allow me to donate them to a design library just yet.
Then, this past week, it seems my son solved this problem all on his own by commandeering the box, my first ever box of *real* fabric samples, and ripping them apart for his own toddler-esque pleasure. Anything to give me 15 minutes of peace these days is a blessing, so this seems like a satisfactory solution to me. Into the toy box they go; most of them are probably out of production now anyway.