Coffee to Go

Founded in 2003 by Jason Shatilla and Carla El-Samra, Montreal-based Surface3 is devoted to “creating memorable experiences that generate positive word-of-mouth.” The cross-disciplinary agency certainly met its mandate at SIDIM this past May, with its popular installation for the Montreal design show’s caf.

Surface3’s aim was to create a design work both accessible (smack dab at the centre of the action) and ephemeral (to be demolished after the show) – the antithesis of a “precious” object. On one side of a display wall, visitors were greeted by 143 tactile spheres constructed – with the help of 35 volunteers – from 27,000 pristine plastic coffee cups (which will be sold). On the other side of the wall, in the caf proper, showgoers were given markers and encouraged to write on the walls, refrigerators and counters.

What fascinated Shatilla and El-Samra were the various responses to the work. Some were hesitant to do precisely what they’ve always been forbidden to do (i.e., touch an installation), while others jumped right in. What surprised and delighted the pair most was when the occasional visitor would up and walk away with one of the spheres. “We all tend to get mesmerized by design,” says Shatilla. “but it has the power to engage and stimulate.”