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The Model Never Lies

Concern - the creative design agency headed up by Gilian Schrofer and Cindy Bosma, has just opened an exhibition in New York’s Trespa Design Center in Soho. 50 of their interior architecture scale models are included in a show that proves why they think models work best.

By Gabrielle Kennedy /asdf 08-10-2009

Time consuming and almost old-fashioned, Schrofer remains adamant that models are the best way to create good interior architecture.

“The exhibition explains through models how we work,” says Schrofer.

Despite people’s unwillingness to admit it, Schrofer and Bosma have discovered that not very many people can read architectural drawings.  “Only 20% can read drawings, but only 40% admit that they can't,” Schrofer says.  “And it is the group in between who are the hardest to convince.”

To ensure that he properly reaches that crucial group, Schrofer sticks to scale models.  “It just works so naturally,” he says.  “When I am designing I think in metaphors and I start to imagine myself walking around the finished space.  Via a model, you can offer those feelings to the client.”

Schrofer also talks about the impact models have on the design process.  The process of building a model can take 8 to 30 hours and specific design problems are faced along the way meaning that solutions are realized and devised earlier.

“The models never lie,” Schrofer says.  “Drawing and then printing 2d images will never give the client a true idea of what the job will look like because the perspective is limited and more importantly, none of the problems will have yet been discovered. Often when I walk around at the end of a job I’m always astonished and so are the clients.  I say remember the model?  It worked, it worked just like that.”

Schrofer says all this while lining up the miniature red stools he has made for his next project – the catering area of the yet-to-open refurbished Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.  “Don't look at it from the top”, he says as he shows me the model.  “You need to bend down and look at it from the side to get the best feel for the space.”

The Stedelijk project seats 135 inside and 120 on the terrace and will be finished in Amsterdam colours – red and grey with tables and chairs constructed from concrete, rubber and felt. “It’s just a place where you can relax after visiting the museum in an urban setting,” says Schrofer.  “There is no concept because I’m fed up with that way of working.   It is made up of a lot of diagonal lines, but that is not a concept.”

The move away from concept driven spaces has been Schrofer’s emphasis ever since leaving Concrete (an interior architecture practice) to set up Concern with Bosma in 2004.   “The highly conceptual gigs are too often about money,” he says.  “It’s about tempting people to stay longer and spend more.  Everything is thought out to push you in a certain direction and I think that can be a bit tiring after a while.”

The Models of Concern Exhibition runs from October 5 - 25 in the Trespa Design Center in Soho. 

Images: main exhibition picture by Schrofer, Schrofer portrait by Paul de Bruin, scale model images all by Peter Gerhards.

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