Monday, June 28, 2010

Average vs. Half-ass vs. Bad-ass

I'm so sick of average stuff. It's everywhere. Particularly architecture. I was at the Dwell On Design show at the LA Convention Center last Friday. There were a couple of cool things (I'll post them later, cuz they deserve it), but for the most part, nothing mind-blowing. But dammit, I'm ready to get my mind blown!
I mean...I get it. There are certain inevitable constraints. The number one constraint is typically budget. I'm familiar with that one. If I had an unlimited budget I''ll see.
And the half-ass sucks too. Half-ass is the result of average designers trying to be bad-ass. Jeez this sounds critical and egotistical... but how 'bout this - Anyone wanna take me on? Let's get out the pencil & paper, clay, Legos, papier mache, Lincoln Logs, 2x4's....or lets just grab a stick and find some wet sand and see who can come up with what. I mean, it's not like this is a new idea. Most contemporary designers can't keep up with the Egyptians or Greeks. I'm not saying there isn't any cool stuff out there. There is. And it's MIND BLOWING! But it's rare. And it's the exception to the rule.
Think about it this way: When you're driving around (or riding) take a look at all of the stuff you pass....all of the objects. Take a look at the cars, the mailboxes, the landscaping, but mostly the buildings. There's so many of them. They're everywhere! Everybody's got at least one, but how many of them would qualify as bad-ass? Not enough. That's how many.
Well, anyhow...if you need some examples, here's a guy I like - Art Dyson. There's others of course, but he's the first that comes to mind.
Now let me get some dough together so I can go visually squash some fools.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This-Into-That Stepladder

I was talking with Jim of This Into That (one of our neighbors at the Sawtooth building in Berkeley), and the subject of my stepladder project came up. He invited me into his studio and showed me his most recent acquisition: A stepladder.
I was immediately jealous, and told him that I wish he hadn't shown it to me. Oh well.
Pretty nice, huh?

If you find yourself at the Sawtooth (Kawneer) building on 8th & Dwight some time, stop in and give Jim a visit. His stuff is great.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jean Prouve Inspired Stepladder

Jonathan Taylor is the designer for one of my current clients in San Francisco. They're having me create all kinds of interesting stuff, and I'm really enjoying working with them. Their latest request is for a rolling stepladder, based on this 1951 design from Jean Prouve. Although many of Jean Prouve's pieces have been mass produced, there doesn't seem to be any reproductions of the stepladder. Our version will differ in many ways. Not only do I want to avoid infringing on anyone else's stuff, but the overall dimensions of the original don't quite suit our client's needs.

Here is the original Jean Prouve Stepladder. After studying it carefully, I decided that it is a nearly perfect design. I rarely draw this conclusion when studying a piece, but when it's good, it's good. So where do we go from perfect? I'm not sure what the client will ultimately want, but I decided to head in a different direction, just to satisfy my own curiosity.

This is my favorite variation so far. It is somewhat inspired by Star Wars, but not really. One of the few things I thot I could actually improve was the shape of the grab rail. I think the original grab rail protrudes a little bit too far, so I held these rails a little closer to the piece. These images don't include wheels (I got lazy). Those who know me may find elements they might consider my "trademark" details, but I won't point them out.

This elevation view shows the streamlined grab rail. Both the grab rail, and the back of the stair treads hold a vertical line.

Here's the cool, and completely superfluous tread detail from the top. The top tread is rectangular, but as they go down, each tread gets deeper, with a graduating arc. The actual standing area remains the same all the way down, but you get this neat effect at the back, which reminds me of some kind of cooling fin, or exoskeleton.

I took the ladder to my Uncle George, who is the retired master fabricator of the Ganshorn family. He liked the original Prouve better than my variations. A practical man, he thot I was "some kind of jack ass" for trying to complicate things "with all those extra curves and corners!" It's hard to argue with practicality.