"Shore": Building Community on the Coastline

Last Thursday, Adrien Rovero’s interactive installation “Shore” was unveiled to the public.

Created in collaboration with PCH engineering, “Shore”  was the centerpiece of San Francisco Design Week 2019’s opening night. Although the exhibition is (very) temporary—it opened on Thursday night and only remained open during the daytime the next day—“Shore” opened Design Week, pushing ecologically inspired design and engaging with themes of community.

Artist Adrien Rovero and PCH soft good engineer Jon Murphy (pictured above) collaborated with SFDW on the design and creation of Shore, which is comprised of 120 “Dolos” modules.

Artist Adrien Rovero and PCH soft good engineer Jon Murphy (pictured above) collaborated with SFDW on the design and creation of Shore, which is comprised of 120 “Dolos” modules.

Housed in the large, modern space of Pier 27, the exhibition was made up of 120 large, inflatable blue modules called Dolos: objects light enough to be tossed around, but sturdy enough to seat two. The bright blue modules look like oversized toy jacks; they fill the room, making several large piles and spreading out throughout the large warehouse-like space. Although undeniably playful and interactive, the installation drew inspiration from sixties-era coastline erosion prevention technology—think massive concrete blocks piled up on the shore as a buffer between powerful waves and a paved promenade. Rovero’s blue Dolos take the same name as these concrete blocks; they even share the same shape and scale, although being paradoxically light in comparison. Rovero’s Dolos can be stacked upon each other and linked together, or thrown to the far corners of the room. When one sees the blue Dolos piled up high, it is strikingly reminiscent of those concrete-filled coastlines—those stretches of beach that weave together the natural wild and practical human design.  

Rovero’s design, however, reflects community in the ordinary sense. Dawn Zidonis, Executive Director of San Francisco Design Week, emphasized both the aesthetic and practical aspects of the installation: “Shore’s overall concept encourages a sense of openness, playfulness and collaboration, while also creating a focal point and public plaza.”  

At its core, the Dolos of Shore are objects that inspire community in their function and design.

Designer Adrien Rovero specializes in creating such uncluttered, effective objects as these. Educated in Industrial Design with a masters degree from ECAL in Lausanne, Rovero now focuses mainly on furniture, lighting, and exhibition design. Although a relatively young designer, he has created for high-end brands such as Hermes, Pfister, and Cristallerie Saint-Louis, and worked with established institutions like Centre Pompidou in Paris. For Shore, Rovero collaborated closely with design consulting firm PCH from the early stages of this project to bring his idea to life. PCH’s soft goods developer Jon-William Murphy assisted along the way, from prototyping to manufacturing, in order to ensure that SFDW could open with 120 large, bright blue, inflatable Dolos.

The Dolos have lived short lives as centerpieces of San Francisco Design Week; rest assured, although they are developed from synthetic material, the dolos will not end up gathering dust in the corner of some warehouse, or worse yet, fossilizing in the landfill. SFDW is working with San Francisco-based Mafia Bags to recycle the Dolos into vibrant tote bags. 

// Photography by James Chiang


Sofia is a Bay Area native currently attending Wesleyan University. She can usually be found browsing in a bookstore or hunting for her next iced matcha latte.


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