Illuminated Fabricoil® Veils the Museum of Tolerance LA, Claudia and Nelson Peltz Social Lab

Fabricoil® Coiled Wire Fabric by Cascade Architectural is chosen by Yazdani Studio (part of Cannon Design) for Space Division and a Canvas for Lighting.


The Project: The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles (MOTLA) was established in 1993 as the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a Jewish human rights organization that is renowned internationally. Over 250,000 people visit the MOTLA each year including 130,000 students. In addition, there are specialized programs that have been offered for educators, corporations, police agencies, and professionals throughout the southern California region.

The Claudia and Nelson Peltz Social Lab was created within the existing 10,000 square foot Lower Exhibition floor of the MOTLA in 2021. According to their web site, this social lab allows visitors to “focus on the major issues of intolerance that are part of daily life.” As such, it builds on the SWC mission to inspire people to act against racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.

MOT_Image_1©Benny Chan Photography

The Challenge: The client sought exhibit spaces that would incorporate interactive components to meet several criteria – first to challenge societal assumptions and second to confront prejudice and bigotry—within ourselves, in our communities, and around the world. The designers of the exhibits, Yazdani Studio (part of Cannon Design) were thus charged to create “experiential spaces designed to cross-pollinate the themes of the rest of the museum with the themes of the Social Lab.” That included the need to create a fully immersive experience in engaging, meaningful ways. At the same time, there was a desire for the spaces to flow within the available space creating appropriate levels of separation with visual connection into the exhibit spaces when deemed desirable.

The Exhibit Solution: Spread across 15 distinct spaces, six different exhibits make up the Social Lab that address tolerance on increasing scales. These include The Point of View Experience, which is an immense, four-sided glass cube presenting different individual perspective on a particular societal situation; The Forum, where visitors can explore and debate solutions to national topics in a collaborative manner; The Global Crisis Center gives a glimpse into the world of addressing international situations from the standpoint of a national leader and how individuals can help; The Civil Rights Exhibit, which is a combination of two film presentations exploring civil rights in the United States; We, the People which uses an interactive wall consisting of large touch screens running half the length of the Social Lab to portray U.S. history from the 1600s through the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol; and The Oldest Hate Continues, which “does not paint a pretty picture, [but] it also provides hope for the future that if we sound the alarm and take action, it may be possible to prevent its spread [anti-Semitism].”

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“The content is heavy,” Yazdani says, “but we’ve made sure the environment is vibrant, informative, and exciting.” The 25-year history of collaboration between MOT and Yazdani Studio allowed them considerable understanding on how to address this varied and quite broad set of topics. Accordingly, the design team created the spaces and exhibits to highlight the fact that individual and local actions can quickly ripple through larger communities and even become world-wide phenomenon.

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The Design Solution: To create the best overall immersive experience, the Social Lab uses several very effective design techniques. The core of many of the experiences is the combination of lessons on tolerance with computerized technology. In some cases, the computers allow for changing images and information to be presented. In others, it encourages users to engage in role playing of a situation to see the impacts. In still others, the touch screen capability gives users the chance to explore in a familiar and changeable manner.

A further, very effective technique employed throughout the Social Lab is the use of translucent “veils” that are made of Fabricoil® coiled wire fabric that is suspended from the ceiling to separate different exhibit areas. These veils create dividers that allow views into the exhibit and don’t impede the flow of air for ventilation or heating and cooling. Nonetheless, they are effective foot traffic barriers that also serve another valuable purpose. The weave of the coiled wire fabric was selected to allow them to act as screens for a projector to shine photos, videos, or other media onto. This approach has been used widely in other venues including for musical concerts or multi-media presentations. This approach allows for the complete linking of the space with the digital technology. Design principal Mehrdad Yazdani points out that this digital focus “gives the museum the ability to evolve and change the content.” Most other museum exhibits are fixed or static and aren’t as easy to change or update.

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 The Fabricoil® coiled wire fabric is also a very practical choice. Since it is made of metal, it is very durable. The color and the finish of the metal were selected from numerous options to assure the best visual results. The attachment systems to hold the top and bottom of the fabric in place were selected from the multiple choices available in concert with advice and input from Cascade Architectural. As a lightweight, easy to install system, the space was readily transformed in a very cost-efficient manner. The system also allows for future adjustments and modifications without the need to remove walls, etc. – instead the Fabricoil® can be moved and re-used as needed.

The Results: The Social Lab is the winner of an INTERIOR DESIGN magazine Best of Year Award, 2021 in the category of small museum/ art gallery. The combination of the Fabricoil® and computer technology provide dramatic and engaging interactive exhibit spaces that are continuing the purpose and mission of MOTLA in a durable, flexible, and appealing manner.

©Benny Chan Photography

Fabricoil®

Coiled wire fabrics deliver a new level of design freedom for architects and designers worldwide. Specified for a wide range of creative interior and exterior architectural applications, Fabricoil looks and performs like traditional woven metal wire mesh but is far more affordable. This affordability lets architects and designers flex their creativity, creating signature interiors and exteriors, and turning architectural projects with even very modest budgets into something special.

For more information about using Fabricoil® coiled wire fabric on a particular project, visit https://cascade-architectural.com/

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