Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Human, Lunchbox, FabTools, Illustrator
Although the use of parametric 3D models has become common, the use of parametric tools to produce evocative and engaging 2D representations has been less developed among architects, designers, and artists. Standard parametric modeling programs like Revit, although highly capable of handling relational geometries, are rather limited in terms of allowing for representational experimentation. Programs such as Processing have enabled the non-programmer to more easily enter into the word of procedural design, yet they still require working in traditional, text-based programming environments. And graphic design tools such as Illustrator are enormously powerful in creating evocative visual representations, yet largely the workflows within these software packages are highly manual and allow for little parametric functionality.The parametric modeling plugin Grasshopper offers a potential middle ground that provides parametric control, ability to manage complexity, and a highly intuitive graphic user interface.
This research was initiated through an interest in the body of work produced by the Minimalist, Op-Art and Conceptual Art groups in the 1950′ through 1970′s. Artists such as Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Lewitt, Eve Hess, Bridget Riley and many more explored the construction of drawings and paintings through procedural techniques. Since this period, a number of other artists including both analog and digital artists have explored generative rule-sets in the production of their work (Casey Reas, Jared Tarbell, etc). Yet in most cases, the work is heavily based on scripting, a technique difficult for many architects, designers, and artists to learn (even Processing). This project explores how more intuitive digital techniques can be leveraged to give artists, designers, and architects opportunities to develop experimental and generative drawings and diagrams.
The work has been conducted both as a solo project and as a collaborative project with colleagues and students. I would like to thank Andrew Heumann for his excellent Human plugin for grasshopper that has enabled much of this work. In addition, I would like to thank Adam Marcus who co-taught the first workshop in 2013 with me exploring these ideas. Finally, I would like to thank all of the students and attendees in the courses and workshops I have taught on this topic as your ideas and questions have contributed to the exploration of the work.
Size: 0.75m x 0.75m x 0.75m
Materials: Composite paper-backed cherry wood veneers from Lenderink Technologies.
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo
Inspired by the microscopic spores of various plants that float through the air and find purchase on all types of surfaces, these lamps are designed to not have a “correct” orientation. Rather, the lamps can be positioned in any orientation and repositioned as needed by the user. Hung, sitting on the floor, or even clustered with other Spores, the lamps fill the space with a warm and complexly patterned glow. Each cell of the Spore is laser cut and hand assembled from wood micro-veneers.
Mariko Kobayashi (Schematic Design), Seth Barnard (Assembly)
Size: 36′ x 11′ x 3″
Materials: Precast Fiber-Reinforced Concrete
Location: Roka Akor, 801 Montgomery St, San Francisco, California
Fabrication: Concreteworks, Oakland, California
Matsys was commissioned to design and prototype a feature wall for the main room at Roka Akor. Inspired by tall bamboo grass, the wall uses a linear constraints on a flexible fabric mold to produce the striated and undulating pattern on the concrete.
Size: 36′ x 6.5′ x 6″
Materials: Amber Plyboo
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper
Location: Roka Akor, 801 Montgomery St, San Francisco, California
Fabrication: S/U/M, Oakland, California
Matsys was commissioned to design and fabricate a feature wall for the new bar of Roka Akor. The wall’s gentle undulations evoke the region’s rolling hills while also making resonating with waves and wind. Inspired by Japanese screen paintings of cloudy mountain scenes and the existing vertical wood rib theme found elsewhere in the Bar, the new wall adds a distinct element to the Bar’s main seating area.
Similar to the Zero/Fold Screen completed in 2010, Matsys was interested in minimizing material waste in the fabrication of the wall by using parametric modeling to align adjacent ribs next to each other when cut. The back side of one rib becomes the front side of the next.
Size: 6.1m x 3.6 x 0.3m
Materials: Fiber-Reinforced Thin-Shell Precast Concrete Panels mounted on Steel Frame
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo
Location: FRAC Centre, Orleans, France
Fabrication: Concreteworks, Oakland, California
P_Wall (2013), part of on-going research by Matsys into the use of flexible formwork (see earlier projects in the series here, here, here, and here), celebrates the self-organization of material under force. The form emerges through the interaction of the elastic fabric formwork and the liquid slurry of plaster. The designer has control over the locations of the constraints on the fabric which inform the overall form of each panel, but the specific curvature is determined solely by the system finding a state of equilibrium between mass and elasticity.
This iteration of the wall focused on three areas of innovation in reference to past iterations. First, this wall is the first to be constructed out of fiber-reinforced concrete rather than plaster. Rather than solid panels, each panel is only 2cm thick, vastly reducing the weight of each panel and allowing them to be much larger than previous installations. This process entailed the use of five original fabric-cast plaster patterns and subsequent rubber molds for the thin-shell concrete fabrication process.
Second, we were interested in exploring the boundary between modularity and repetition. At what point is something that is modular also repetitious? At what point does a pattern emerge that conflicts with a desired informal landscape? Using a tiling pattern of four panel sizes and five modules rotated in two directions, the pattern is never repeated across a total of thirty-four panels.
Third, using digital simulation models, a rough approximation of the wall was created virtually that allowed many more rounds of design iteration and testing in comparison with earlier projects in the series. Using a spring-network of meshes, the elastic fabric and the mass of the liquid plaster slurry could be modeled within an acceptable range of accuracy based on physical testing.
Instructor: Associate Professor Andrew Kudless
Location: San Francisco, California
Materials: Wood, Plastic, Composites, Paper, etc.
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo, various traditional fabrication methods
Dimensions: 12″ x 12″ x 16.5″
In Malcolm McCullough’s 1996 book, Abstracting Craft, it is posited that craftsmanship can (and should) be extended to digital media. In this argument, craft is not tied to traditional tools or techniques but rather to an approach to the artisan’s chosen medium that rests in an alchemical mixture of expertise and improvisation. The craftsperson, drawing on a deep well of skill-based knowledge, works and reworks their medium in a feedback loop that integrates a multitude of simultaneous and often conflicting performance criteria that range from the technical to the poetic. This understanding of craft as a deep relationship between maker and medium allows the term to be extended to any process of creation, even those whose “materials” are the notionally immaterial pixels, vectors, and 3D geometry that populate the digital realm.
This advanced architectural design studio at the California College of the Arts focused on the relationship between craft and design. The studio was divided into three roughly equal-length phases, each exploring a different aspect of craftsmanship. In the first phase, students focused on developing a range of digital and physical modeling skills that allowed them to become experts in a particular material system. Rather than focus on site or program, the two traditional generators of architectural form, the students were asked to develop several eggs that simply researched the relationship between form, fabrication, and materiality. The goal of this phase was to produce a studio culture that focused on the value of making as a design generator.
In the second phase, students applied their skills to a specific design problem: a new ferry terminal for the Seattle waterfront. Beyond the necessary docks, waiting areas, and ticketing booths of the terminal, the project integrateed a number of other programs to support the maker and craft cultures of the Seattle region such as fabrication, retail, and exhibition spaces. During a visit to Seattle in early March, students researched both the urban environment of Seattle and its emerging maker community. Students met with the founders of Makerhaus as well as the design software company McNeel & Associates (the maker of Rhino).
During phase three, students continued to develop their design proposals through a limited number of highly crafted representations including physical models, drawings, and renderings.
The studio supported students who are interested in the value of making in contemporary culture. It celebrated the re-emergence of craft-based personal production embodied by entities such as Maker Faire, TechShop, and Etsy as a viable alternative to the anonymity and blandness of industrial mass-production. The studio did not presuppose any level of skill in digital or physical modeling, but required students to be rigorous, motivated, and open to experimentation as they developed their craft.
Ji Ahn, Maria Araujo, Nathan Booth, Vanessa Carvalho, Logan Kelly, Shawn Komlos, Alessandra Marsh, Rena Montero, Mehdi Nikseresht, Anthony Quivers, Gry Taraldhagen, Hugh Vanho, Jason Vereschak, Brendan Williams, Alex Woodhouse
Materials: Wood Lathe, Stainless Steel Bolts
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo
Dimensions: 35′ x 35′ x 7′
This project was developed during a fast-paced 3-day workshop with students at Tulane University. Building on the earlier gridshell research conducted during the SmartGeometry 2012 workshop, this grid shell attempted to improve on various aspects of the earlier prototype. In an effort to both increase fabrication speed while decreasing material waste, the parametric model integrated more material feedback and analysis. First, the model would warn the user if the timber member length exceeded the available timber members in order to eliminate the need for splicing members together. Second, the model would produce warnings whenever the maximum bending radius was exceeded, assuring that the surface curvature was producible at full scale. Third, the edge beam members were doubled to increase the overal stiffness of the beam.
Initial Parametric Modeling and Workshop Instructor: Andrew Kudless
Design, Fabrication, and Assembly: Charles Boyne, Jack Waterman, Kyle Graham, Sam Naylor, Sarah Cumming, Dennis Palmadessa, Elizabeth Kovacevic, Lauren Evans
Materials: 3D Printed Concrete
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Weaverbird
Dimensions: 20cm x 20cm x 20cm
SCIN, a material resource center for designers and architects in London, asked a small group of emerging designers to produce a small cube that represents their approach to design, materiality, and technology for an exhibition that coincides with the London Design Festival. Our submission reflects the reoccurring presence in our work of cellular solids, a transmaterial grouping characterized by high strength to weight ratios. The cube was designed using a network of digital cellular bodies that are first relaxed to produce a more uniform field and then structurally differentiated in relation to their distance to the outside surface. The inner core’s cell edges are extremely thin and fragile yet are protected by the multiple layers of increasing more robust edges closer to the cube boundary. For the exhibition we collaborated with the fabrication consultancy Emerging Objects to create a simple yet lightweight cube that is digitally printed from concrete. This sample of our work embodies our interests and facility with digital craft, material innovation, and structural performance.
Andrew Kudless (design), Emerging Objects (fabrication)
Size: 8m x 8m x 3m
Materials: 4mm Translucent Coroplast, Nylon Cable Ties, Steel Foundations, PVC and Steel Reinforcement Arches
Tools: Rhino, Grasshopper, Kangaroo, Python, Lunchbox, Rhinoscript
Location: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Event: Detour 2012
Shellstar is a lightweight temporary pavilion that maximizes its spatial performance while minimizing structure and material. Commissioned for Detour, an art and design festival in Hong Kong in December 2012, the pavilion was designed to be an iconic gathering place for the festival attendees. Located on an empty lot within the Wan Chai district of Hong Kong, the design emerged out of a desire to create a spatial vortex whereby visitors would feel drawn into the pavilion center and subsequently drawn back out into the larger festival site. Working fully within a parametric modeling environment, the design was quickly developed and iterated with the 6 weeks of design, fabrication, and assembly. The design process can be broken down into 3 processes that were enabled by advanced digital modeling techniques:
The form emerged out of a digital form-finding process based on the classic techniques developed by Antonio Guadi and Frei Otto, among others. Using Grasshopper and the physics engine Kangaroo, the form self-organizes into the catenary-like thrust surfaces that are aligned with the structural vectors and allow for minimal structural depths.
The structure is composed of nearly 1500 individual cells that are all slightly non-planar. In reality, the cells must bend slightly to take on the global curvature of the form. However, the cells cannot be too non-planar as this would make it difficult to cut them from flat sheet materials. Using a custom Python script, each cell is optimized so as to eliminate any interior seams and make them as planar as possible, greatly simplifying fabrication.
Using more custom python scripts, each cell was unfolded flat and prepared for fabrication. The cell flanges and labels were automatically added and the cell orientation was analyzed and then rotated to align the flutes of the Coroplast material with the principal bending direction of the surface.
Schematic Design: Andrew Kudless / Matsys
Design Development and Prototyping: Andrew Kudless and Riyad Joucka
Fabrication and Assembly: Art Lab / Ricci Wong, Wong Sifu, Geoff Wong, Wilton Ip, Justin ling, April Lau, Andrew Kudless, Riyad Joucka, Eric Lo, John Thurtle, Garkay Wong, Felice Chap, Kenneth Cheung, Godwin Cheung, Quentin Yiu, Rena Li, Garesa Hao En, Cheryl Ceclia Lui, Huang Xinliu, Horace Cheng
3D Scanning of Built Structure: Topcon HK using a Faro Focus3D Scanner
Size: 96″ x 96″ x 96″
Location: University of California, Berkeley Botanical Garden, Redwood Grove
Material: Fiber-Reinforced Concrete
Exhibition: Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, Scientists & Poets in the Garden
Project courtesy Salamatina Gallery. Please contact the gallery for more information on the project.
Description: The latest iteration of the “P” series of projects (P_Wall(2009), P_Wall (2006), P_Wall (Weathering)), the Seed takes the series into a new dimension. Inspired by the vitality of the Redwood Grove at the UC Botanical Garden, the Seed attempts to embody the fertility, wonder, and strength of the redwoods through the placement of this mysterious concrete object within the Grove. The form is composed of 32 thin-shell fiber-reinforced concrete panels that are based off of plaster patterns made from casting liquid plaster into fabric forms. The fabric expands under the mass of the plaster slurry until it finds a state of equilibrium with the tensioned fabric. This play between the pressure of the liquid versus the tension in the fabric fibers mirrors the dynamic conflict that exists within every cell of organic bodies.
Credits: Andrew Kudless (Design), Ron Rael of Emerging Objects for the fabrication of the 3D-printed concrete prototype, Mark Rogero of ConcreteWorks for the generous donation of fabrication support, David Shook for engineering support, and Shirley Watts and Mary Anne Friel (curators and organizers of the exhibition, and all of the staff of the Botanical Garden for their support.
Size: 190cm x 90cm x 90cm
Materials: Composite paper-backed wood veneers from Lenderink Technologies. Cherry veneer (exterior) and poplar veneer (interior).
Tools: Grasshopper, Kangaroo, Python, Lunchbox, Rhinoscript
Location: Permanent Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Exhibition: Multiversites Creatives, May 2 – August 6, 2012
Project courtesy Salamatina Gallery. Please contact the gallery for more information on the project.
Description: The latest in a series of projects exploring cellular morphologies, Chrysalis (III) investigates the self-organization of barnacle-like cells across an underlying substrate surface. The cells shift and slide across the surface as they attempt to find a more balanced packed state through the use of a relaxed spring network constrained to the surface. Each cell is composed of two parts: a cone-like outer surface made from cherry veneer and a non-planer inner plate made from poplar veneer that stresses the outer cone into shape. Each of the 1000 cell components are unfolded flat in the digital model, digitally fabricated, and hand assembled.
Credits: Andrew Kudless (Design), Jason Vereschak and Emily Kirwan (Fabrication Support), Maciej Fiszer (for the lending of assembly space in Paris), and the Pompidou Centre Industrial Prospectives Department (Valerie Guillaume, Hélène Ducate, Dominique Kalabane, and Marguerite Reverchon)
Location: Smartgeometry 2012, RPI, Troy, NY
Size: 11m x 7m x 4m
Material: Straight Wood Lath
Workshop: Gridshell Digital Tectonics
Workshop Instructors: Mark Cabrinha, Andrew Kudless, David Shook
Description: This 4-day workshop at SmartGeometry 2012 focused on the design and construction of a wooden gridshell using only straight wood members bent along geodesic lines on a relaxed surface. Using parametric tools, the design was developed and analyzed to minimize material waste while maximizing its architectural presence in the space. In addition, a feedback loop was designed between the parametric geometric model and a structural model allowing for a smooth workflow that integrated geometry, structures, and material performance.
More information on the Smartgeometrty website.
Workshop Collaborators: Elif Erdogan, Giuseppe Giacoppo, Alexander Jordan, Chu-Hao Pan, Lara Alegria Mira, Elliot Mistur, Artyom Maxim, Sarah Murray, Dan Reynolds, Oliver Sjöberg, Caressa Siu, Elsa Wifstrand, Katja Virta
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Size: 25′ x 30′ x 12′
Material: 1/8″ Corrugated Cardboard
Description: This project was the result of a 4-day workshop taught with Marc Swackhamer at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture in March 2012. The workshop explored the design and fabrication of shell structures. Inspired by the work of designers such as Guadi, Otto, and Isler, the workshop explored how digital tools could be used in the design, simulation, and fabrication of a contemporary thin-shell structure. The workshop was structured in the following way:
- Day 1: Parametric Modeling Tutorials and Lecture on Thin-Shell Structures
- Day 2: Design Competition among student teams
- Day 3: Fabrication
- Day 4: Assembly
Credits: The project could not have happened without the amazingly talented and dedicated students at the University of Minnesota who designed and built the structure using the tools that I provided them at the beginning of the workshop. Thanks to all of them:
Namdi Alexander, Daniel Aversa, Tia Bell, Alex Berger, Amy Ennen, Andrew Gardner, John Greene, Kelly Greiner, Artemis Hansen, David Horner, Jonathon Jacobs, Hwan Kim, Jenn McGinnity, Shona Mosites, Kristen Salkas, Stuart Shrimpton, Paul Treml, Katie Umenthum, Pablo Villamil.
Size: 1.93m x 1.75m x 0.3m
Materials: Fiber-Reinforced Plaster
This project belongs to the larger P_Wall series of projects that investigate the self-organization of material under force. Using nylon fabric and wooden dowels as form-work, the weight of the liquid plaster slurry causes the fabric to sag, expand, and wrinkle before finding a state of equilibrium. The form that emerges resonates with the tension between our own elastic skin and fluid interior. Using digital tools to design and simulate the process yet allowing the forms to develop according to the inherent physical forces, there always exists a welcome gap between the designed and the emergent in the work.
Fabrication and Installation: Andrei Hakovich, Sean Wong, and Nathan John
SFMoMA has reinstalled the P_Wall (2009) piece in their 5th Floor Gallery overlooking the Sculpture Garden. The wall is part of their “The More Things Change” exhibition focusing on the work of emerging artists over the last decade. The exhibition closes on November 6, 2011.
(Note: The amazing chair shown in the images is, unfortunately, not mine. The chair is by Dutch designers Tejo Remy & René Veenhuizen. The curators at SFMoMA did a great job pairing the wall and chair together.)
Aldgate, one of the medieval gates of London, sits between the old City and the new eastern development for the 2012 Olympics. The Aldgate Aerial Park resists the binary relationship of the traditional gate typology. More than just a singular threshold between one urban zone and another, the network of vaults span multiple streets and pathways. Rather than a simple opening between one place and another, it expands out into the city and forms its own identity as a new urban park. The aerial park creates a space of relaxation and community above the chaos of the city streets. The cells of the park include amphitheaters, gardens, restrooms, and open spaces. Rather than reinforce the dividing line between new and old London, the new gate attempts to create a spatial blur that brings people together.
Size: 20″ x 20″ x 20″
Description: Working with an updated version of the script that produced the earlier Diploid Lamps, this new lamp is fabricated entirely without glue. Every connection is a locking tab that enables the lamp to be built quickly despite the nearly 1000 parts. For price, please email email@example.com
Description: Although digital fabrication has allowed architects and designers to explore more complex geometries, one of the byproducts has been a lack of attention to material waste. Often digitally fabricated projects are generated from a top-down logic with the parameters of typical material sheet sizes being subordinated to the end of the design process. This project attempts to reverse that logic by starting from the basic material dimensions and then generating a series of components that will minimize material waste during CNC cutting while still producing an undulating, light-filtering screen in the gallery.
Size: 36″ x 12″ x 12″
Description: The Diploid Lamp series explores multiple patterns inspired by nature such as scales, honeycombs, and barnacles. Using parametric modeling, scripting, and digital fabrication, the light’s geometry is created, refined, and produced. Each lamp is custom designed and hand assembled from digitally fabricated paper components. The series is composed of five individual lamps and is an ongoing project.
Description: For over 100 years, Horseshoe Cove has undergone massive spatial, programmatic, and ecological change. From its early years as grazing land to its long military use, the Cove has evolved to its current status as one of the Bay Area’s most significant cultural, educational, and recreational sites. However, the site has been developed in a piecemeal fashion that has resulted in the abandonment of the water’s edge. Although other sites such as the Cavallo Conference Center and the Bay Area Discovery Museum draw large groups of visitors, the water’s edge has remained in a state of neglect and disuse.
This proposal for the redevelopment and restoration of the water’s edge starts with the concept creating a dynamic, mixed-use site. The Cove is unique in its combination of recreational, military, and educational uses and the goal is to support and grow this programmatic diversity. This is accomplished through the construction of an interdigitated landscape between land and water. Like the fingers of two hands interlocked, the project stitches together the larger landscape into the San Francisco Bay. Land is pushed out into the water and water is pulled back into the land. Although the overall “horseshoe” shape of the cove is retained, a much more dynamic and diverse water’s edge is created. Understood biomimetically, the folding of the water’s edge increases its overall surface area and becomes a better filter between the land and water.
The folded joint between the land and water acts as the central circulation across the site. Its meandering geometry extends the promenade and connects it back with several important site features. The interior of each fold houses the primary functions of the site. From providing improved fishing piers to creating a bermed earth outside amphitheater, this project spine connects and redistributes the activities of the site. In addition to a warming hut containing restrooms and a waterfront café/restaurant, one of the new landscape piers houses a community event space that can be reserved by the public for things such as weddings, reunions, and other social gatherings. Finally, the inland landscape folds contain programs such as a National Park Service Visitor Center and Shop as well as a bike and boat rental/repair shop.
Beyond the programmatic diversity of the project, there is also a strong desire to integrate the ecological diversity of the site into the project. Several methods have been used to restore and enhance the ecological footprint of the project. Starting on western side of the site, the existing underground drainage system is daylighted, creating a new stream that would support flora and fauna as well as providing an opportunity for interpretive walks from the discovery center. This stream would exit into a newly constructed estuary on water’s edge. In the center of the site, a newly created wetland and bio-pool would process and store the graywater from the site while providing for educational and recreational opportunities. A contemporary interpretation of the famous early-20th century Sutro Baths across the bay, the bio-pool would quickly become a Bay Area icon of health, ecology, and recreation.
The project proposes two energy generation strategies through the use of wind and solar power. The Horseshoe Cove and Discovery Center parking lot will be covered with photovoltaic solar panels. Not only will these panels provide the project with energy, but they also provide shade for the cars below. Wind power is provided through a series of wind turbines sited near the historic Fort Baker bunker in a prime wind corridor. The turbines would be painted to match the Golden Gate Bridge as a reminder of the link between 20th and 21st century infrastructure of the Bay Area.
This plan for Horseshoe Cove recasts it as a place of life, energy, and education for the region. Providing much needed amenities for the thousands of annual visitors, the project stitches together land and water to create a new hybrid edge condition.
Location: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Size: 45′ x 12′ x 1.5′
Description: P_Wall (2009) was commissioned by the SFMOMA Architecture and Design Curator Henry Urbach for the exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. The wall, part of a series started with P_Wall (2006), is an evolution of the earlier work exploring the self-organization of material under force. Using nylon fabric and wooden dowels as form-work, the weight of the liquid plaster slurry causes the fabric to sag, expand, and wrinkle.
From the exhibition text written by Henry Urbach:
Andrew Kudless’s P_Wall, commissioned by SFMOMA for this exhibition and its permanent collection, marks a radical reinvention of the gallery wall. Typically smooth, firm, regular and, by convention, “neutral,” the gallery wall has shed its secondary status to become a protagonist in the space it lines. Made of one hundred fifty cast plaster tiles — individually formed by pouring plaster over nylon stretched atop wooden dowels — the new wall possesses an unmistakable corporeal quality. Bulges and crevices; love handles and cleavage; folds, pockmarks, and creases: these are among the characteristics of human skin that come to the fore. Contemporary in its effort to capture dynamic forces in static form, P_Wall nonetheless has its origins in the experiments of earlier, 20th century architects including Antoní Gaudí and Miguel Fisác, both of whom investigated the potential of cast material to yield unique, sensual and, at times, bizarre shapes. P_Wall replaces the modern gallery wall with an unwieldy skin that can only approximate the fleshy enclosure that we, as human beings, inhabit throughout the course of our lives.
SFMoMA also produced a short video about the design and fabrication of the wall.
Credits: Andrew Kudless, Chad Carpenter, Dino Rossi, Dan Robb, Frances Lee, Dorothy Leigh Bell, Janiva Ellis, Ripon DeLeon, Ryan Chandler, Ben Golder, Colleen Paz
Location: Not in a gallery
Description: The process of weathering is often intentionally resisted (if not completely forgotten) in most contemporary design. This is a legacy of Modernism and its fascination with minimal, timeless, and antiseptic materials. David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi have done an excellent job of mining this ground through architectural history in their book On Weathering (1993). They reveal in this book a long tradition in the design world of working with the act of weathering in a way that enhances the design concept over time. Rather than design in a way that presents the Sisyphean task of negating the influence of time on a project, they document other strategies architects have taken to accept that their buildings will have a life of their own after the drawing board.
This concept has been hovering in the background during the evolution of P_Wall (2006 / 2009) over the last 3 years. When people see the wall, they seem to have an inherent desire to touch it. The hint of softness, the evocative forms, the fabric textures all draw people in, seducing them to feel its rounded curves and deep creases. After each time it has been exhibited, a certain patina can be seen on the pieces: fingerprints here and there, scuffs from handling, etc.
This projects explores the potential weathering of P_Wall. Beyond the simple marks of humans in a gallery environment, the wall is located outside, open to the elements. The undulating forms would collect dust, pollen, soot over time. Moss would take root in the subtle groves of the fabric texture. Birds and other creatures would make the holes their homes.
This is not an exercise in Romanticism. The goal is not to produce a picturesque image of the wall. Rather, there is something about the wall that craves to be touched, to be made unclean, to be used, worn, soiled. Throughout the fabrication of the tiles, spiders would constantly be found making the holes their traps. A fine layer of soot, plaster and saw dust seemed to be constantly attached to the forms. This project accepts these intrusions on the “pure” form and makes them apart of the design. No more resistance, P_Wall accepts the life of the world and changes with it.
The wall for SFMoMA is done! Or at least my part is pretty much done. The great art movers from Atthowe started crating all of of the panels today and delivering them to the museum. Since the last update we’ve sealed all of the panels so they easier to clean and some of the minor surface discolorations are muted. But, the cast texture of the fabric formwork is still very visible as you can see in the photos.
The opening reception at SFMoMA is on the evening of Thursday, August 6 and the exhibition is open from the following day until November 8th. Here’s the press release from SFMoMA on the larger show: Sensate: Bodies and Design.
Matsys was commissioned by SFMoMA to produce a wall installation for the upcoming exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. After many months of research and prototyping, production on the final wall began in early May and is nearly complete. At the moment, all of the panels have been cast and we are just waiting for them to fully dry. Check back soon for more images of the final installation.