Fabric Structure “M”‘s: Mast, Moss and Membranes

Sorry for the delay.

I got caught in September’s Hurricaine Irene and lost my basement and office which included my priceless (to me) fabric structure book collection some personal items but as they say, “less is more”. I have less in my house now but I appreciate more what survived the flood.

October brought me an early winter snow storm which left my house with no power for  a week. Lets see…no power…no sump pump working…no refrigerator on…no furnace working. You get the idea.

In November, I managed to get of of town in time to do some business only to find out that I was walking with a  ruptured achilles tendon and I didn’t know it!

I’m on crutches now for months followed by months of rehab.

But I still can talk about fabric structures!

Lessons Learned?

My body is like a fabric structure, it is made of a few components and all components rely on each other as awhole. If one piece is “sick”, in this case my achilles, I need to modify my design or posture, adjust my process or way of completing a task and try to be as light as possible to prevent putting extra weight on my foot or the earth!

In other words, I got to watch my diet!
Today, FabricArchitect talks about the letter “M”.

With “M”, I think of

  • Mast
  • Moss
  • Membrane

In some ways three things you aboslutely need when it comes to designing and building fabric structures.


The mast is the ionic, doric and corinthian column of the tensile world. It is both structure and architecture. It is the spine. It is conduit, support systems and wayfinder. The mast can do so many things so take advantage of it. It can support electrical, sound and be topped with a bale ring left open to the sky or enclosed in glass, metal or a variety of other materials. The perimeter mast can be pin connected or moment connected and be a leader for water or an edge for a sidewall.


I met the Artist Bill Moss when I was in College and the name has lived on to be the name associated with the trade show industry and the interior fabric stuctures. My friend Debra Roth of Pink Inc. now does her thing thru the Moss label and there are many companies out there doing “Moss type” structures (some better, alot worse). Watch out for wannabees. Most of the structures use a stretch fabric and now with improvements in printing  on them, there are unbelievable results. Experiencing Interior fabric sttructures is a great way to get into the business whether as designer, user, client or fan.


The membrane is the skin.  Make note that most, if not all, interior membranes cannot be used outside. Some of the things you can do inside cannot be replicated with an outside structure. Membranes come in all colors and strengths and translucency. For decades now, the industry has been accustom to teflon in the 10-12% range in translucencey, PVC in the 6-15% and Tenara in the 20-40% translucency. Along comes ETFE with transparency ranges from 50-97%. That’s progress.

But what’s next?

I am always looking for the next “skin”.

Fabric with PV cells already embedded in the material? A material that chances color to its mood. More insulated than traditional insulation. Able to “cover” tall building  in a single bound.

Buildings are getting lighter and lighter. Less is more, Light is more, Fabric is even better.

Think out of the box, design out of the box, detail out of the box and you will find yourself building a fabric structure.

See you at “N”.


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