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Paper Softwall

Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo


Designers: Stephanie Forsythe, Todd MacAllen


Forsythe + MacAllen Design was a finalist in the 2005 edition of YAP. Now called molo, the firm is based around the idea of building things with one's hands at various levels of scale. The duo created Paper Softwall, now in the permanent collection at MoMA.

Q&A with Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo

MoMA PS1: What was the perception of YAP in your office at the time?
Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen, Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo: We were really curious about the competition. I know that the perception is often, "This is the beginning of my career!" but we already knew what we wanted to do. The competition was going to be a potential distraction. We were very close to saying, "Thank you but we're not going to participate." In the end, it was an opportunity for us to push our work and ourselves, as well as to develop the textile softwall.

MoMA PS1: Were you okay with the outcome then?
Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo: Honestly, we were relieved that we didn't win the competition, especially living in Vancouver and not in New York. It would've been too hard to execute. At one point we told Terry Riley, "You know, we’re not affiliated with a school so we don’t have a bunch of students to build this thing!"

MoMA PS1: So did you go through with the design because of the prestige of the institutions?
Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo: It's almost not so much the prestige—the place just hits the heart. For anyone who lives in New York, MoMA PS1 and MoMA are almost like the city's garden or rather the city's living room. Some people think of them as an extension of their home! There is an emotional attachment.

MoMA PS1: Your firm is now called molo. Can you tell us about the transition?
Forsythe + MacAllen Design / molo: In becoming molo, we wanted to make a distinction between the old and the new. When the firm was just the two of us, we called it our names, Forsythe + MacAllen Design. Now that it's a collaboration of many people, it would be weird to just have our names.

molo was born in 2003, around the time when a lot of things were coming together for us. We had just won a series of competitions and we began to move away from the client-based work we'd previously been doing. We were interested in creatively designing a practice that could financially support itself without having to rely on clients—a larger body of research would sustain the firm. We looked at work that we wished we were creating. We took the idealistic approach of not worrying about whether or not we were making any money.