The cornerstone of good design is its longevity. Every designer wants to create that timeless piece which seems to last for eternity (Think Ray and Charles Eames). If this does indeed happen to a design(er) it may a problem in that it can compel said designer to become complacent and rest on their laurels. Of course such a crazy notion is never considered at IDS as we are always trying to learn from our past work and find new and exciting ways to implement our knowledge to future projects.
A recent project that made its way through our studio was a refresh of a space we had previously designed in 2010. That project being A Kinney Court which houses Garrett Leight California Optical. The building itself was coming under renovation so a desire to update the furniture and displays was expressed and we jumped at the chance to try and outdo ourselves. It is extremely rare to get the opportunity to redesign a space you did 5 years prior, especially if the past design was considered to be strong both visually as well as functionally. So we had the arduous tasks of trying to exceed our previous design intentions with a new and fresh language.
We looked at this project as an opportunity to explore both our mold making and casting abilities as well as a great exploration in pattern generation. Ultimately we wanted to create a modular system that could be easily adaptable and used a subtle pattern which could be used not to overwhelm the products being sold but rather add an accent and character to them. The goal in the studio, when it comes to display design, is never to over shine the products being sold but rather enhance and compliment them. The end result of this thinking in the case of AK court was a series of cast fiber reinforced concrete (FRC) panels, with 3 varying heights, that were augmented with a subtle triangular pattern lot draw the viewer's attention without overwhelming the product on display.
In terms of fabricating the panels, a master urethane rubber mold was cast in our shop with stand offs to indicate the location of the shelves for the 3 different height concrete panels. From this urethane mold the concrete panels were cast with the hardware for the shelf brackets embedded for each respected height. The ingenuity of the mold itself was the fact that from one casting and a series of dams, we were able to cast panels of 3 different heights using a single mold. Another little detail that may be overlooked by some was the actual texture inherent within the rubber mold. When generating the master plug in which the mold would cast we noticed a texture generated by our CNC mill in the wood. Rather than sand the plug smooth or rerun the file on the machine to smooth the surface, we decided to keep the texture and pay homage to the language of digital fabrication within the whole process. A happy little easter egg for those always looking for hidden details.
It's a nice little challenge to reimagine a space or product you designed in the past. It presents an opportunity to implement your accumulated knowledge and growth. Looking at, and rejuvenating a past design with a fresh pair of eyes will almost always enhance the outcome. If you have the opportunity I highly recommend it.
- Andrew Raffel, Designer at Ilan Dei Studio