The Forge is a cool new space located in an amazing building that used to be The Smith Bros. Hardware building in downtown Columbus, Ohio. They commissioned us to create this piece of art for their brand new, top of the line space. It was even more of a long hour struggle than usual…
We started out with the client goal of making something so awesome that people would think about it later and remember The Forge and everything the learned in the unique space. If that wasn’t enough, we had about 3 weeks to do it along side of the signs we were already making for The Forge. After many concept sketches and 48 straight hours of constant deliberation, we worked out a concept, which we quickly threw out. But from the rejected concept, we were able to work with the client to narrow down to an amazing, eye catching clear sculpture based on the image to the right. It’s an abstract illustration of an architectural fantasy by Alexander Daxböck.
So there we were, trying to wrap our heads around how to make this illustration into a design that made sense to be made back into something three dimensional from 1/4″ thick sheets of acrylic. The first step was to take the white-on-black image, invert it, then print it out. I traced the main shapes to make them more prominent and then scanned it and traced it using AutoCAD. To the left is that scanned image (still a mess I know!) In order to sort it all out we color coded the different sections in AutoCAD.
From here we made a 3D version in Solidworks, mostly to wrap our minds around it and it was really the only way to show the concept to anyone without sounding like a maniac. This 3D rendering was great at 2 things: 1) it represented the concept the only way we knew how and 2) it gave us a little bit of “insurance”. This whole art thing was a huge gamble, we had to make sure we were on the same page as the client and this helped alleviate (some) of the worry of showing up and having them hate it and say “This isn’t what we wanted at all” or much less polite versions of that. We knew we could make the rendering a reality so we were feeling good there.
The base was a real obstacle. We had originally planned to make a 24″x24″ straight column, just plain old museum style. But the sculpture would need power and the floor pocket was 24″ from the center of the sculpture so some drastic redesigns needed made, and a truly elegant solution was created in the eleventh hour. The pieces for the split design were easily and quickly cut using the CNC router at The Columbus Idea Foundry. The cool light strip was a happy accident since we kept creating a gap testing with the top resting on power cord. We liked the effect so much that we kept it! Now I can’t imagine the piece without it.
We cut the pieces at our shop using the Columbus Idea Foundry’s Laser and everything went together smoothly. They were glued in place and the lighting effects were created using an Arduino Uno. I used a very simple sketch that just faded 3 pulse width modulation outputs on repeat, forever. There are 6 strips of single color LEDs (2 each of blue, yellow, and white).
Here is a video of the effect running for the first time (1am the night before it was due in place).