“knurling can also be used when a high precision component will be assembled into a low precision component, for example a metal pin into a plastic molding. the outer surface of the metal pin is knurled so that the raised detail ‘bites’ into the plastic irrespective of whether the size of the hole in the plastic closely matches the diameter of the pin.”

30/07/2012 § Leave a comment

theodore waddell – roll up chair


so simple,  so good.  theodore waddell’s roll up chair.  originally came across this via mondo-blogo.


when cable is loose, structure is limp

a young hare




[title]     comes from a wikipedia entry on knurling.

[images]     for more images of theodore waddell’s furniture design, check out this mondo-blogo post.

[more structure as form]     this has got me thinking of ulm.

“seitz retired from teaching at mcad in 2002. reflecting back on his thirty-year career, he said, “i’m sorry to say that i used to be a terrifying teacher. too often i was unnecessarily harsh. however, my intensity was based on my belief that design was a serious business and my students must be serious about their studies if they were to succeed. i am still a modernist at heart, but i now know that there is more than one way to create good design. you might say that i’m a recovering perfectionist.” – peter seitz

23/05/2012 § Leave a comment

peter seitz, design quarterly 66/67 – design and the computer (1966)

for all the minneapolis people, here’s a recent post on design observer about the career of former walker art center design curator peter seitz.  i’d be very interested to see the contents of design quarterly 66/67.  architects in academia still talk about the issues of design and the computer.



a young hare




[title + image]     both were found in the design observer article.

“ugliness corrupts not only the eyes, but also the heart and mind” – henry van de velde

17/06/2011 § Leave a comment

wolfgang siol, dorm room at hfg ulm (via)


whenever the name max bill appears, the name bauhaus is not far away.  from reading certain accounts you’d almost expect to find “bauhaus” lovingly adorning the flowing banner atop the heart tattooed on his shoulder; never mind his relationship with his mom, he clearly loved bauhaus.  truthfully, max bill did attend the bauhaus school taught by hannes meyer.  but he also spent significant time visiting and talking with le corbusier.  and in an interview with angela thomas [1], the dirty secret comes out: max bill was more interested in those who influenced mies van der rohe than in the man himself.  angela reveals that max bill was driven by the concepts espoused in the work of henry van de velde, charles henry mackintosh and walter gropius (whom mies had worked for early in his career).  it’s as if max were restarting mies’ career and taking an alternate path.  so, max’s fictional heart shaped tattoo must be emblazoned with “gropius”.


photo’s by binia bill, max bill’s house in bremgarten (1942) [2]


by examining these earlier influences max bills character becomes less of a thin miesian plane and more of a fat rounded mobius strip-like-plane turning in on itself.  van de velde is famous for stating that “ugliness corrupts not only the eyes, but also the heart and mind.”  clearly this utopian concept of design as the means of social reform is reflected in max’s own sentiments.  while visiting the palace of industry for sao paulo, max claimed that

in a street here in sao paulo I have seen under construction a building in which pilotis construction is carried to extremes one would have supposed impossible.  there I saw some shocking things, modern architecture sunk to the depths, a riot of anti-social waste, lacking any sense of responsibility toward either the business occupant or his customers…. for such works are born of a spirit devoid of all decency and of all responsibility to human needs.  it is the spirit of decorativeness, something diametrically opposed to the spirit which animates architecture, which is the art of building, the social art above all others.  [3]


model of hfg ulm [4]

images of hfg ulm (via)

bill max, hans gugelot, and paul hildinger, ulm stool (1955)

ernst hahn, max bill and charles eames at ulm (1955) (via)


max obviously has a hate relationship with decoration, but his modernism is more humanist than mies.  in a way, certain of his efforts strike me as being closer to the work of his contemporary alvar aalto.  take for example his own house built during the war.  it’s a humble structure balancing rational systematic design and a soft material palette composed of a concrete foundation, wood posts atop large stones found on site, and prefabricated durisol panels.  this house represents a mix of machine and nature.  even the way he sited the buildings for the hfg ulm indicates a response to site and ecology – what robert irwin would call a site conditioned building [5].  even the ulm stool represents a softened response to the hand and the need for an economical solution.  the rod providing structural stability also acts as the handle used to tote the stool from place to place around the school.  it could function as a stand, a tray, or a seat.  while these examples all have an austere aesthetic, each of these examples represents a concern and response to ecology, economy and society.


enjoy the weekend

a young hare




[1]     Thomas, Angela. “Max Bill: The Early Years an Interview.” Trans. Susan Ernst-Peters. The Journal of Decorative and  Propoganda Arts 19.Swiss Theme (1993): 98-119. JSTOR. Web. 31 May 2011.

[2]     Ibid

[3]     Frampton, Kenneth. Modern Architecture: a Critical History. London [u.a.: Thames & Hudson, 2007. Print.

[4]     Ibid 1

[5]     Irwin, Robert. Being and Circumstance Notes Toward a Conditional Art. Larkspur Landing, CA: Lapis, 1985. Print.

“rhythm transforms the structure into form”

17/06/2011 § 2 Comments

pier luigi nervi, orvieto aircraft hanger (1935)

one can consider art to be essentially identifiable as invention.  the invention of means of expression; the first thrust into realms which contain as yet unknown aesthetic and formal possibilities.

that is the sense in which art presupposes something novel.  the newness of the idea, newness of the themes, newness of the form.  this kind of newness can be achieved in two ways: (a) in an individual way – which has its origin in the intellectual and psychological make-up of the artist; (b) in a more general way – which bases itself on experimenting with objective possibilities of form.  in an extreme case (a) will lead to ‘art informel’ or to a neo-dadaistic combination of materials; (b) leads to structure.  on the one hand: materials in their “natural” condition, individually interpreted.  on the other: tectonic laws which ultimately are schematically applied in a uniform distribution.

even though amorphous material can be considered to possess an inner configuration – a structure of its own – in its natural condition, we can eliminate this kind of structure from our consideration, for as an inherent structure it is not accessible to aesthetic or visual arguments, either in painting or in sculpture.

tectonic laws are altogether different.  they are accessible to aesthetic arguments for they are principally laws of order, and in the end art = order.  in other words, art is neither a surrogate for nature, nor for individuality, nor for spontaneity.  and where it appears as such, it is art only insofar as it informs the surrogate with order and form.  because order is so characteristic of art, art begins to rely for oder on the tectonic laws.

now the question arises as to what a tectonic law, a law of order, as we know it in science, means with respect to art.  that is, where does structure end and art begin.

let us start with the extreme case: a plane is covered with a uniform distribution in the sense in which this is understood in statistics; or a uniform network extends into space.  this is an order which could be uniformly extended without end.  such an order we here call a structure.  in a work of art, however, this structure has its limits, either in space or on the plane.  here we have the basis for an aesthetic argument in the sense that a choice has to be made: the possible, aesthetically feasible extension of the structure.  actually it is only through this choice to limit the arbitrarily extensible structure  on the basis of verifiable arguments that a discernible principle of order becomes comprehensible.

but is a choice, or the setting of limits, sufficient for the creation of a work of art? this question arises mainly because, since the radical attempt to dispense with all individualistic stylistic expression beginning with mondrian, no reduction can be extreme enough.  this also arises because the aesthetic information offered by the means of expression is dwindling sharply: neither locatable nor measurable, neither expressing nor indicating an order: producing a neuter with aesthetic pretensions.  the aesthetic quality is beginning to withdraw into the most extreme reductions, into the most extreme objectivity, culminating ultimately in the negation of newness and of invention.

but invention always presupposes the discovery of new problems.  the discovery of these new problems is individually determined.  art is unthinkable without the effort of the individual.  order on the other hand is impossible without an objectifying structure.

this means that art can originate only when and because individual expression and personal invention subsume themselves under the principle of order of the structure and derive from it a new lawfulness and new formal possibilities.

such lawfulness and such inventions manifest themselves as rhythm in an individual case.  rhythm transforms the structure into form; i.e. the special form of a work of art grows out of the general structure by means of a rhythmic order.


– max bill structure as art? art as structure?

text taken from:  structure in art and in science (ed. gyorgy kepes)


let the rhythm take you over

a young hare

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