Prepare your senses, people. Vanta is the new black.

Vantashack is one of five central common spaces conceived for the Toronto Interior Design Show 2018 under the show’s theme of “Future Fantastic” on a shoestring budget. The strategy for the design of the spaces was not to predict the future but rather to provide environments that enable the creativity, conversations and collaboration that ultimately shapes the future – environments that will encourage thought that pushes the envelope and inspires disruptive, revolutionary ideas. Conceptually, Vantashack was approached more as an art installation than as a space design challenge, allowing the design team to both thoughtfully address the strategy and embrace the tiny budget. This resulted in an intellectual, yet rock and roll counterpoint to the feel of the perfected, expensive spaces displayed throughout the trade show.

Vantashack is a space designed specifically to draw attention to the needs of introverts. Introverts make up one third to one half the world’s population, but our culture has evolved to value the charisma of extroversion over solitude-seeking introversion. This has led to workplaces and schools that are designed to overwhelmingly encourage constant group work and in the process, the solitude needed for deep thought has become discouraged. Studies have shown, however, that group dynamics distort outcomes along with excluding introverts. The problems facing the world today and in the future, cannot afford to exclude up to half of the world’s problem solvers. Workplaces and schools must start designing spaces that allow introverts to feel free to be themselves so they can contribute to solving the world’s problems in a way that works for them. Vantashack is a space that empowers introverts with the ultimate sensory respite in a trade show environment built for extroverts to make this larger societal point.

Approaching Vantashack, one first notices the extremely long communal table set up beside it. No privacy is allowed in this space and interaction with a large group is the only option. Beside the table is Vantashack; an all-black shipping container with an interior inspired by Vantablack - the darkest man-made substance on earth whose complete absence of colour has been described to be as powerful as switching off gravity. Inside the all-black interior, materials were used to dampen and absorb sound, while seating cubes were spaced far enough away from each other to create personal space for those seated. No instructions were given to attendees. In the end, half the people didn’t get it and thought something was broken – the other half never wanted to leave.

Vantashack’s true success will be as a case study used to create conversation about the revolution needed in the way workspaces and schools are conceived and designed in the future.

Photo: Marcos Armstrong
Metatron by Ryan Tomkinson
Anti-trade show booth?