Marilyn and Bill Moss with the Moss Eaves tent.
Marilyn and Bill Moss with the Moss Eaves tent.

Henry David Thoreau, the author of Walden, once said about art that “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” He may have had second thoughts about canvas after lugging a heavy canvas tent from his home in Concord to Walden Pond to get away from it all in the 1850s.

We take for granted the lightweight nylon backpacking and camping tents we have today. But tents didn’t change much from Thoreau’s day until a Midwestern artist turned one of his art concepts into a lightweight portable shelter. Bill Moss designed and patented the first dome tent in 1955 and initiated the transformation of two industries in the process. 

Starting with the Pop-Tent, Moss’ designs revolutionized tent construction over the following decades. His Moss tents built a loyal following. Eventually his pioneering tension fabric technology helped to change exhibit construction practices in the tradeshow industry as well.

Bill’s ex-wife and business partner, Marilyn Moss, chronicles his life and impact in her recent book Bill Moss: Fabric Artist & Designer. The 300-plus page coffee table book is divided into two parts. Part one, “The Bill Moss Story,” covers Moss’ life, product designs, and impact. Marilyn gets a little help with several chapters penned by associates and protégés of Bill’s. Part two, “From Op to Pop,” provides not only a gallery of Moss tents and sculptures, but stories submitted by loyal Moss tent owners about their globe-trotting adventures in trusty Moss tents.

The entirety of Mark Ollinger's story about Bill Moss' tents appears in the November 2013 print edition of Silent Sports. To order  a copy or subscribe, call 888/706-4045.