Interior Architecture Professor Honored with International Design Awards

Bruton’s social engagement project highlights egalitarian social interaction

Salon, a game of Tables & Chairs
Alan Bruton

The 14th Annual International Design Awards (IDA) has honored Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Professor and Director of Interior Architecture Alan Bruton with two product design awards for his social engagement project Salon, a game of Tables & Chairs – bronze prize for the category Society/Designs for Social Impact, and gold prize for the category Toy Design/Board and Card Game

Salon reimagines the gridded Chessboard to produce an environment allowing for an egalitarian social interaction amongst players. The board game is one aspect of a four-scale spatial project which utilizes the technique of recursion — a setting appearing within itself larger, smaller, and in this case even virtually, scaleless, using the tools of augmented and virtual reality. 

“The project started with me 3D printing furniture to place on a chessboard as an art piece critical of the antagonistic, hierarchical, and war-like nature of chess,” said Bruton. “I wanted a more egalitarian representation of society in my house than Chess.”

Bruton was inspired by the psychological, sociological, and sometimes political dimensions in how individuals constantly rearrange chairs and tables in rooms where they gather. Through many iterations of Salon, Bruton has been able to play the game with students, friends, strangers, and colleagues at academic conferences where the game has been presented in the context of his research into ludic spaces in general, as recently published as a chapter in the book Interior Provocations, History Theory and Practice of Autonomous Interiors, Routledge Press 2020.  

“The point of the game is to bring people together at the table,” shared Bruton. “This game concerns itself with the quality and impact of our living together in space.” 

Bruton has focused on interior space issues for decades, working with clients and collaborators on their organizational and expressive spatial needs in New York, Detroit and now Houston, developing his interest in bringing to light the forces of the psychological, social, and physical dimensions at play in the interior.

Gold in Toy Design / Board and Card Game

Bronze in Design for Society / Designs for Social Impact