Rock climbing

Nicole McLaughlin’s personal climbing wall helps her stay grounded | Architectural Summary

Hit the Right Angles: The Grasshopper wall uses a system of secure pulleys to change slopes, increasing the difficulty of climbing as the slope gets steeper.

Nicole McLaughlin


In 2020, the designer teamed up with Crocs to reimagine the famous rubberized clog with a climbing-inspired twist. It was a natural decision to shoot the campaign in his own studio. Nicole says, “That’s where I found my ideas and this idea was born, so I thought why not stay very true to the process, but also connect the dots on a climbing wall?” In creating the shoe, Nicole brought her vision to life by envisioning a climber’s dream pair of Crocs, complete with a chalk bag boot upper and finished with rope and carabiner detailing. With the brand’s approval, the next step was to search for a perfect backdrop to complement its tactile and thoughtful design elements.

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Just as Nicole was finalizing her design, the stars aligned. Grasshopper, headquartered in Salt Lake City, announced that it was developing a smaller-scale climbing wall that could fit comfortably into a home environment. “We had the first unveiling of the Grasshopper house wall, which is super cool,” admits Nicole.

And as if the prototype wall wasn’t already a particularly rare find, Nicole explains that most conventional home layouts aren’t typically tall or high off the ground. “I knew I wanted to have something like this in my space, but I never imagined having something of this magnitude.” Luckily, Grasshopper’s wall ended up fitting just fine. And after enlisting the help of experts at Greenpoint’s GP 81 Climbing Gym to help with the puzzle-like installation process, the angle-adjustable wall now stands comfortably near a glassed-in corner in the studio. from Nicole.


When Nicole traded Boston for New York in 2019, one thing she brought with her was her love of rock climbing. “One of the main reasons I liked it is because you get so locked into the problem-solving element of climbing that you’re not even too focused on the exercise” , she says. An avid fan of outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, Nicole found that even though there weren’t as many opportunities for nature excursions in New York City, she could still fake the experience by doing indoor bouldering at a local climbing gym.

As well as keeping her mentally and physically fit, rock climbing is an important source of inspiration for Nicole’s work, which she references through her use of technical zippers, pull tabs and reflective materials. “It’s not just a love for the sport, but a love for the whole lifestyle,” she says. For an extra personal touch, the designer likes to invest in colorful climbing holds she finds online to add style to her setup and make it feel fresh. “It’s really fun to watch and it’s an inspiration to me,” she says. “If you can make your hobby an aesthetic fixture in your home, why do not do it?”

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