Walk into any open office, library, or commercial space, and what you see when you look up will not surprise you. You may see suspended ceiling panels with spotted surfaces held in place by a rectilinear grid of steel tees. You may even see horizontal drywall, with the occasional drop ceiling or intricate construction in place to conceal the source of cove lighting. Then there’s the exposed slab, which hides nothing because there is no ceiling to conceal the truth. If you’re really lucky, you may even see a stretched ceiling, but many people feel this is too fancy and prefer to stick to the materials they know and trust.

The monotony of these limited ceiling treatments is exactly why TURF Design was created: to give the world of ceilings something totally different without disrupting existing conventions.

TURF Design's crease ceiling tile system hanging over an office space.
TURF Design's straight baffle ceiling system hanging over an office space.

One way to change old habits is to start from a place that everyone can agree on, and the appeal of TURF Design’s products begins even before they are made. More specifically, their ceiling systems are made from 99 percent post-consumer plastic, half of which comes from single-use water bottles. This reduction in waste extends to the way the company controls the inventory of their products, in that they only manufacture on-demand from their Chicago plant.

With sustainable practices at the core of their business, TURF focuses on reducing echos in large spaces using ceiling systems that are both acoustically functional and aesthetically pleasing. Using parametric design, they create systems that make vacuous-feeling rooms a lot more intimate and fun.

What do clients find so interesting in the systems that TURF builds? Among other things, the fact that they can be installed without disturbing existing ceiling panels. No, this system of baffles can be adjusted and reconnected depending on the style a particular space needs. For example, the company’s Switchblade ceiling system is made from 99 percent recycled polyester plastic. Its 9-mm polyester felt boards are held to the underside of the steel grid magnets, which means no major renovation would be needed to alter the ceilings and reduce the noise in the space below. It also gives the space a new aesthetic that looks far more appealing than the one that was there before.

TURF Design's Switchblade ceiling system hanging over an office space.

Then there is Swell, a ceiling system that looks like it’s literally growing. As the eye travels down the hall or across the room, the ceiling bulges and swells as if an otherworldly creature were about to pierce through.

TURF Design's Swell ceiling system hanging over an office space.
TURF Design's Swell ceiling system hanging over an office space.

Some might find that it looks creepy, but after a while, the wave-like forms that surround diffusers and sprinklers actually feel pretty soothing. This drop ceiling, unlike the typical drywall ones, can be installed easily without taking apart the existing one.

Renderings of TURF Design's Swell ceiling system.

With so much talk of disruption in industry after industry, TURF Design is showing that the best way to succeed may be to avoid disruption altogether.