June 12, 2023
By Karen Sandstrom
For the first time in years, leaders at Texas-based PrimeSource Building Products Inc. were planning to attend the annual NAHB International Builders Association Conference, with hopes of spotlighting new brands and products.
The trade show represents the largest annual gathering of its kind in the world. How was PrimeSource to attract busy visitors on sensory overload?
Cue the artists.
When the show opened Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, the PrimeSource display included artworks made by Cleveland Institute of Art students and faculty from Interior Architecture and Sculpture +
Expanded Media (SEM). Materials included fasteners, tape, caulk, safety fencing, gloves and more, which PrimeSource sent to CIA on pallets of jumbo containers.
The work was hung on custom-fabricated exhibition displays designed by Benchmark, an Ohio-based company that makes event environments. Benchmark Design Director Micheal Gavorski ’91, and CIA’s Interior Architecture chair Mike Gollini ’86, both have had longtime professional connections to PrimeSource over the years.
Benchmark developed specific solutions for displaying new product lines within the exhibit. But the first challenge, Gavorski says, was “What’s the thing that kind of gets (visitors) to stop in the middle of the street, turn around and drive back to look? That was where the concept for the student collaboration came from.”
The plan aligned with the company’s wish to communicate about their goods in a way that spoke to growth and innovation, says PrimeSource Vice President of Marketing Allyson Horst.
“We had an opportunity with Benchmark and the Cleveland Institute of Art, and we had that connection,” Horst says. “Why not offer this as an opportunity to the students and faculty?”
The company donated cash prizes for the top three winners in a vote by booth visitors. SEM major Cora Terrion ’25 won the $1,500 first prize for “Running Caulk.” The piece required 15 tubes of silicone, along with metal and a plastic sheet.
“The concept for my piece came together because I really enjoy the form of drops and the look of drippy things,” she says.
Her first-place win came as a nice surprise. “I finished this project a few months ago and had just assumed that someone else won, so I was very happy to find out that not only had I won, but two fellow SEM sophomores had also won prizes for their work,” Terrion says.
Interiors major Isabella Moisides ’23 created “Spirals” with woven strapping, which evoked the textile work and weaving she does in her free time. “Design work is primarily digital now, so it was nice to use my hands and do something cool,” Moisides says.
PrimeSource considers the project a win, says Lindsey Fox, the company’s director of marketing. “It made people question: What is this? What is the connection?” she says.
“We’re putting the artwork up in our corporate headquarters, which is so cool,” Fox adds. “Even within our company, people were excited and impressed enough to say, ‘Let’s bring it back so that we can put this on display.’”
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