Client: Super Duper Studio (self initiated)
Material: Sandblasted acrylic faces, 3D-printed connectors
Role: Design lead, research, prototyping, fabrication management
Fabrication: Mr. Plastics
Expanding the Research of buckminster fuller for a contemporary context
The work of Buckmister Fuller is known for its extreme efficiency, elegant geometry, and utopian idealism. Even though his inventions seem to be a logical progression toward making the Earth's finite resources provide for 100% of humanity, why have so few been adopted? This was the question I set out to explore.
The series of experiments and prototypes lead me to learn that it's not just efficiency or a good argument that leads inventions to be adopted, it's livability too. If a product is not easy to live with, no matter how much sense it makes, it will eventually be discarded.
The outcome of the process was the design of a lighting fixture which is simultaneously poetic, mathematical, and utilitarian.
In order to begin understanding Buckminster Fuller's inventions, not just academically, but practically and experientially, I began with a series of studies. They were not meant to serve any function other than to get hands on understanding of the geodesic dome's geometry.
Livability over awesomeness
As the studies increased in complexity and construction methods emerged I wanted to apply my new knowledge to something functional. Experimenting with how Bucky's geometry affected light, I eventually found some very interesting effects while building spheres from mirrors. The effect was so seductive that I was convinced that it would make it into the final product, but living with this fixture and testing it over a week in my own home changed my mind.
The final design was lead by this key realization: no matter how cool it is, it can't be hard to live with. Fuller Moon addresses this problem by balancing charm with efficiency and functionality. Its satin finished acrylic faces evenly distribute light, the LED bulb produces little wasted energy in heat, warm temperature light reduces the sleep-disrupting effects of blue wavelengths, and self-stabilizing geometry allows for a small amount of material to enclose a large volume. Also, it looks like the moon.
Even though they are extremely material efficient, after building many geodesic spheres, difficulty of adoption was the biggest reason I found for why they might not have been widely applied to housing. Compared to traditional architecture, geodesic domes are very confusing to assemble. They also require many parts that aren't widely available, and don't fit into the established construction industry's set of tools, and techniques. Maybe this is too big a hurdle for the sake of efficiency (a benefit which is not very tangible to the general public). Although I still love geodesic domes and the work of Buckminster Fuller, now I understand a little more about why his incredible inventions aren't mainstream. It is a lesson that informs every project I take on.