Karim Rashid’s Facebook followers choose facade for New York building

Egypt-born designer Karim Rashid has taken to Facebook to select a facade for his upcoming building in New York’s SoHo district.

The New York-based Rashid has asked his social media followers to select between four options, featuring four various facade designs which he had posted on his Facebook page.

Last month, Rashid and the developers had selected 10 initial designs and posted them on Facebook, asking followers to vote on the designs as well as express their feedback.

“For being such a large city, NYC is really many small communities made up of very vocal, opinionated residents,” he said. “Hearing public feedback can be difficult because people are so mired in the past – they don’t want to embrace change.”

The project is a seven-storey structure located at 30 Thompson Street, set between historic buildings on a narrow plot. It will include seven apartments- one apartment per floor- and is planned for completion in 2017.

“It is a great opportunity to get feedback for my work and I believe we live in the age of ‘the empowerment of the individual’ where we all have a voice in the digital age,” he said.

Yesterday Rashid announced that based on popular vote, as well as budget and technical reasons, option A has been chosen.

Option A features a row of large parallelogram-shaped windows, while option B is made up of faceted triangular panels using varying opacity levels.

Rashid explained: “B has some criticism by a very few that it is similar to the facade for the Citroen showroom in Paris. I find it interesting how if there is a facet, then one immediately finds a similarity. As soon as we do something unusual or more radical people are ready to compare and criticise.”

Cheaper options C and D feature a flat glazed surface printed with biomorphic graphics and oval windows surrounded by white cladding.

Rashid said that by involving the public in the design selection process,  he hopes to gain the approval of local residents which will improve the chances of the building being built.

“I have had too many failures and have learned that design is a collaboration. One must listen and work within that culture or nothing will go to market or get built,” he said.

“What we’re doing on Facebook is just a more open/public version of what the design industry has been doing for years,” said Rashid. “I always refused to witness the tedious focus groups that large companies use to critique designs but from it and as a designer, I am hired for a reason, for my expertise and vision to shape better lives.”

“Focus groups can destroy and end projects but if the feedback is overwhelmingly positive you know the project will be successful.”



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