assignment.05 | Inspiration Presentation



Beginning in 2005/6 I became interested in Digital Fabrication.  At that time I was at Georgia Tech in my junior year of my Architecture degree when the school held a new distinguished chair position.  It was called the Ventullet Chair and the first person to hold the seat was Monica Ponce de Leon from Office Da.  Her motives in the chair position was to promote and explore digital fabrication techniques, to bring what she and Nader Tehrani had been doing in their office.  The position was a year-long position, beginning with a design studio and ending with installation of the final pieces.  That year there were five pieces installed (one in concrete, one in fiberglass, another aluminium, acrylic and the last in plywood.  These projects were fascinating to me and I was instantly hooked.  However, I did not participate in the studios as they were only open to graduate students.  The following year while I studied in Paris, the Ventullet chair position was held by her partner Nader Tehrani and that year they produced one installation that to my knowledge still is in place.

I applied to graduate school not thinking I should study digFab and ended up here in Portland.  However, I was very unhappy here as far as the school goes.  All of my attempts at finding what really spoke to me in architecture what really moved me, failed.  I was just here to get my degree to work in a firm.

Then my good friend Max Taschek showed me a video, a video of a bunch of students from Ball State University disassembling an old barn, reclaiming the wood and repurposing it for an installation.

PROJECTiONE began as a collaborative architectural thesis at Ball State University by Adam Buente, Kyle Perry, Elizabeth Boone and Eric Brockmeyer.  Within the last year it developed into a start-up design/fabrication studio due to a number of client based projects, exhibitions and product designs.  Their original thesis examined digital tools with analog methods materializing in fill scale prototypes, research and collaboration.

This is the project that reclaimed my studies.  It is entitled “reBarn.”  The team began by deconstructing a barn that was to be demolished.  They examined the construction technique the age of the boards as they removed one by one, tagging each with its index number.

They then went through a design process and testing prototypes.  A year later they had an opening celebrating the opening of the installation.  The project is nice, it is considerate to both site and materials and does a good job of reflecting the techniques and design considerations they employed.  However, it wasnt the image that struck me, but the video.

The video is simply images of the project from start to finish assembled into a video wrapper, but seeing the process, the deconstruction, fabrication and construction really spoke to me.  video

This is their first project.  Entitled Arcus Animus, it was done during a studio by Philip Beesley called “an Inconvenient Studio.”  The project uses a variety of sensors, processors and actuators to sense human presence and respond by moving and shaking.  video – An Inconvenient Studio – Arcus Animus

This project launched the collaboration of the four students to form PROJECTiONE.

Their works consist of projects that look at both product and architectural solutions to problems.  This project is called plyLight.  They inbeded touch sensors and LED in a laminated piece of plywood.  The resulting product is a very elegant product that lights up upon your touch.  One of the members of the team is now at Carnegie Mellon where he is pursuing a Masters in Tangible Interaction Design, he has taken the idea from the plyLight and incorporated it into a door, the touch LEDs become the coded lock for the door, resulting in a very seemless look for what is typically an obtrusive locking mechanism.

They began to study hardwood veneer and how it can be cut to form a structural system.  A system that can support its on weight but create a form.  These experiments began their study of luminaires.

LightForms is based on the same production ideas as Luminaire.  It uses a simple joint system that fastens each column to the next and each row within the column to the next.  The process begins with a profile curve which gets revolved to create the form.  It is then analyzed and the individual interlocking shape is morphed onto the surface.  This is then outputted on mylar by use of a laser cutter and hand assembled.  Each luminaire can be a custom shape and the system can grow larger ro smaller.  This project was the beginning of what is now myLight.

The myLight is the next iteration of this luminaire.  Through many iterations they tweaked their script to produce the results they wanted.  Using a script to control this project allowed them to tweak settings, to make corrections here and there and to accept a variety of input profile curves.  Through the process of digital fabrication, they are able to make a new prototype in a short period of time, allowing them to create  feedback loop which will then inform the next iteration.

The myLight is available for purchase in either pre assembled or a kit.  The kit is considerably less expensive, but it requires a large amount of time for construction.  Due to their material that they are using an infinite variety of colors are available, as the mylar can be printed on and then precisely aligned within the laser cutter, allowing each piece to have its distinctive color.

EXOtique is an exercise in quick design to fabrication techniques.  Giving themselves 5 days for everything from design to fabrication and installation and a budget of $500, the team created this installation on the ceiling of the entrance to the architecture building at Ball State University.  The system starts from a surface generated in rhino, it then goes into grasshopper where the components are created  with all outputs for fabrication, this includes all joinery labels and tabs.  The entire system is held together with slot connections with very simple details.  The beauty behind these types of systems is that it allows everyone to understand its construction, it does not attempt to hide the system from people.

Generally the people we study are practitioners, people who have backing by a University or clients.  ProjectiONE inspires me because they work within the same bounds that we do.  They have a few more resources available to them in the form of a dedicated Institute for Digital Fabrication, but the tools are the same.  This inspires me to drive  and push our school.  We have the resources we need in the form of both machines and knowledge, it’s a matter of getting enough interest to bring in lecturers like Frank Barkow and David Celento.  These people are at the front end of emerging digital design and media.

2 Responses to “assignment.05 | Inspiration Presentation”
  1. Great description, Geoff. I appreciate that you expained how they played a part in your own journey.

  2. It’s really interesting to see some other people using digital fabrication for green / environmental applications. We’ve just started experimenting with digital fabrication. One of our engineers is building a 3D printer from scratch. The designs are all open source. We’re hoping to start making components to use in some of our renewable energy systems. Blog post here:
    We think it’s really important that these technologies are open source- and that people start using digital fabrication to address environmental problems.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: