This series of wooden objects is the latest in our design research studies. For some time, we’ve been interested in a reductive, elemental language as a counterpoint to AtFAB’s plywood austerity. We modeled these rounded shallow wooden vessels by aligning tangent, conic surfaces.
As a basic geometric element, a cone on its own has limited design versatility. By aligning cone bases and generatrices, however, we made a simple element into a building block for a complex design language. These shallow bowls are only the beginning. We’ll be able to incorporate these same shapes into objects of many proportions, scales, and functions.
Our initial solid modeling explorations involved boolean intersections of tangent cones. In the process, we found an order of operations that produced subtle but striking clefts along the points of intersection. As a result of these repeatable modeling steps, we produced shallow, multi-sided bowls, each with a corresponding cleft pattern.
To form each object’s perimeter, we aligned conic surfaces into a smooth, continuous edge. We can easily fabricate these tangent edge profiles using with a stepped toolpath and this fixture and flip milling technique. This combination of geometry and technique gives us trays and stacks in a variety of proportions. So, as we find new forms and applications, we’ll be able to evolve this elemental component into a complex system.
Design, emergence, and fabrication repeatability fueled AtFAB and our open source Farnsworth structure for A Mies for All. And, it continues to draw our curiosity. The simplest of elements, like a pair of tangent circles or cones, has the potential to combine into a complex, adaptable language. As we develop CNC tool path techniques in conjunction with these elemental parts, we get closer to uniting design, emergence and fabrication repeatability.
In addition to modeling and fabricating, we study complex formal concepts with drawings. For us, these 2D studies illuminate the possibilities of working with a simple 3D geometry. In the process of making these particular drawings, we identified tangent perimeters, aligned center-points, and found regulating lines to govern patterns and conic intersections. These drawings even allowed us to define ratios, which yield evenly subdivided perimeters of 2, 3, and 4-sided objects. These ratios will be helpful later, when we define parameters for continuous, uniform structural framing.