Frank Lloyd Wright’s the art and craft of the machine

“ The machine these reformers protested, because of the sort of luxury which is born of greed had usurped it and made of it a terrible engine of enslavement, deluging the civilized world with a murderous ubiquity.”

What does FLW think the machine era created? Murderous Ubiquity. The dearth and death of art. Some art is still made for the wealthy, and other art is contrived and distorted for profit (FLW is looking at you, Starry Night Mug) in the thousands. Today, perhaps the machine of manufacturing and the industrial age is even more murderous and even more ubiquity. Since 1901, the concept of designed obsolescence was actually praised by designers such that the junk they made allowed them to produce more junk. Designers became slaves to not only the sameness of all things, but the worthlessness of all things.

Some of the best designers of the time have rejected the Machine, preferring the Arts and Crafts movement, and Frank praises them for the search of the soul of design. He repetitively praises to the values of the counter-movement. Still, FLW isn’t a luddite. Frank believes that they have protected the beauty of the craft, but they fail to see the beauty that has been unlocked by the machine into the true nature of available materials. I find this interesting because it highlights the biggest issue I have had with counter movements in architecture. The machine age was just dawning and there was a new horizon of possibilities. At the same time, this was the dawn of an era. The machine was hideous and unrefined, and hadn’t reached the height of its potential. The designers of the arts and Crafts movement held on to what they were doing because their art celebrated the golden age of an art form even though that golden age had past.

But ultimately, the responsibility is not the Machines: it’s the machinist’s. The problem with the early industrial era was that machine tools weren’t harnessed, they were exploited. Instead of making new works of art, most of what this new technological sophistication created were underwhelming. The same is done today, when buildings in Revit are designed not to the bleeding edge sustainable practices, but designed with standard wall types, standard component windows, standard roofs, and by seriously substandard human beings(“architects”). This is the same fight FLW saw, and it is the same one we must fight.

Perhaps now in our era the machine has been freed from itself, and now it can come to begin to make its own art.

June 27, 2011
Featured, general, Research
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User Interaction Design

I am Currently Pursuing a research topic I have been interested in for some time.

There are so many products and designed objects available in the market today, but I don’t like any of them. None of the ones that cost less than $4,000 anyway. What if I could be empowered to make my own things, instead of what someone else chose for me?
Currently there is a disruptive change beginning to take shape in the landscape of interior and object design. As access to CNC machinery becomes more and more available, there is an increase in ability to produce mass customized furnishings.
Examples of this are here:

The Purpose of this research isto explore the possibilities of creating computationally designed and parameter controlled objects that are based on user-generated concepts. These concepts and models for further study will be refined for potential future exploration.

With this method of Inquiry I intend to use Rhino and Grasshopper to create parameters that will allow another unskilled user to make modify and customize a (lamp) based on several parameters. The focus will be on designing a system that can empower the user to create their own physical content.

Frequent updates will be made as I pursue this inquiry.

June 29, 2011
Featured, general, Work In Progress
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Can you laser cut Ceramics

I love laser cutters. I love parametric and algorithmic design. I love working with clay. Can I combine all three?

Ceramic craft is an ancient art form that is still practiced in parts of the world as it was several thousand years ago. It also has been adopted in the industrial era for even greater quantities of consumer goods. It is versatile, durable, and cheap. It is for these reasons that I decided to try to laser cut the material.

Would the aggregate in the clay redirect the laser, keeping it from cutting?  would moisture content affect performance?

I ran several tests as I attempted to find the ideal path for completing this project.



It failed.  greater moisture content seems to allow to the laser to cut deeper into the clay, but ultimately clay density is the main issue. After trying several attempts, each test was only able to cut about 1/16″ down, regardless of changes.

I want this medium to join me in the information age.My next step is to mount our CNC mill with an ‘ancient’ tool- a needle tool.  While the laser I have access to cannot cut deep enough into the clay to be useful, the needle tool will.

Can I get the needle tool sharp enough to resist picking up the clay?
will I be able to ‘unload’ the clay from a canvas sheet (which will protect the thermwood’s mdf)?


June 29, 2011
Featured, general, Research, Theory, Work In Progress
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Imbue week 1 Report

January 13, 2012
Imbue, Thesis
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Reinventing Architectural system Processes in the US
What is the existing issue?
As we examine Architecture, and more broadly- design, we find that the most interesting component is the process in which objects get made; the architecture or design object is but a shadow of the business strategy, symbiotic connections, and systems architecture that bring objects from abstract thought to tangible reality.
Why is it happening?
Designed objects are not readily available in the market. Due to cost-savings and oversea production, most objects are either extremely basic and lack character, or are so expensive that they are ‘design beyond reach’. These two approaches are common market strategies that are proven, but lack cultural, ethical, local, and environmental significance.
What do you propose?
We propose to design at a new Architecture for system design that will enable us to create culturally significant objects that would have a profound impact on local culture by changing the way people shop, and a profound impact on local environment by reducing the level of shipping and infrastructure required.
As we move forward, we plan on keeping the following in mind:

September 19, 2011
general, Thesis
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Thesis Ideas

Thesis: a Microbrewery of Design


Considering the IDEO axium “it is not the chair” – IDEO was asked to redesign a chair for a major railine, but found that the problem was not the chair, but the path thier client took to the seat.


My experience has been that when defining space, “it is not the building”  - when I think of the creation of a building, I dont think of connection details. I think of the connections made between people, partnerships and synergistic relationships; of empathetic meaning, environmental concern, value production and symbiotic relationships.


In order to examine this relationship, I want to reduce the scale of the object, so that I can make, explore meaning, and connect with more people in a shorter amount of time. I want to explore the system of making empathetic creations made and distributed to other people.


To this end I propose a design microbrewery. This would be a place where objects were made,  objects whose buyers would be designers, fitting existing solutions to their tastes, needs, and individuality.


I believe such a place would have several profound effects:

When I think of architectural design, I can not stop thinking about huge parking lots, and sprawl.  Our american lifestyle has become so dependant on automotive transportation that if we do not build the space for our cars, then our buildings fail, or create hazardous conditions for people using the space. New Urbanism is an example of movement that looks to thwart this epedemic and return the scale of the american city  so that it can be enjoyed by people. one of the major problems is that there is no urban capcity to support retail shops, because they are simply to expensive to be practical for everyday people. If the scale of a unit of production can be reduced then perhaps this can become practical.


Other considerations have been to create urban agriculture, to reduce the supply and distribution chain footprint that takes place to get grain from the field to the grocery store. There have been several studies that have shown that urban agriculture builds community, increases health and reduces the environmental footprint of food production.  My goal is to pursue a concept of urban manufacturing, where the supply and distribution chain of material objects is reduced to enhance urban life in all the same ways. My belief is that if both of these problems are solved, then human needs can be met in american environments without ever needing a truck or car to function in daily life.


Empathetic value, Phenomenology are quinticential value that is described when describing how to make buildings into ‘A’rchitecture.  At the scale of ‘F’urniture, I want to create a system for envolving the user in the ‘P’rocess of design.  The contemporary Industrial design discussion has been the value of empathetic connection to everyday objects. I believe the next step in creating empathetic connection to our objects and to our spaces is to involve the client in the design of the things they use.


Strategy: To investigate the system of architecture, which produces meaningful objects, through coordination, planning and seeking purpose collabratively, while working at a smaller and more affordable scale.


Tactics: I plan to build tools that will empower others to create and modify there own spaces within parametricly controlled rulesets so that there will be a great beauty in the objects created, as well as a great diversity within subsets.


Methods: TBD

September 4, 2011
general, Thesis
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Here I finished the concept; what if you could:

Take a roughback and various scraps of stone

Scan the surfaces

and then apply a texture pattern to the surface via a preconfigured script?

Cut panel geometry Video

I took a random pattern, and then applied several logical systems based in grasshopper to find out if I could generate a system that would look amazing over an entire facade, while using pieces that would be to small or two mis-shaped (waste pieces) to be used in traditional masonry construction.

It worked surprisingly well. at this point I will look to this texture generation for covering entire facades, but I don’t know if it would work only with stone. These elliot foam panels are quite rigid. I believe they could be used for formwork on large scale applications with the same intentions.

July 22, 2011
general, Research, Work In Progress
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reading 3 2005 Blueprints response

Two articles. tooling for the imagination, and retooling were side by side in this issue. together they tell an even more complex narrative. The first reading talks about CAD software in the advance and leap forward it is from the days of the eraser; second is a retooling, stepping away from software that simply allows you to draw, to software that allows you to fluidly communicate your intentions. REVIT, Bently, and similar software packages are significant only because they have redefined the question. the question that CAD answered is, “how can you reduce the amount of time associated with correcting drafting errors?” the question answered by these new software packages is, “how can I better communicate and realize my ideas with my clients and my design team?” Retooling is an apt title, because the question of what a CAD software package should be is being reexamined. I believe this is a good change, because it feels like it is empowering the architect to manage the data, instead of simply generating it. It frees the designer to have more thorough discussions about intent, possibility and research because one allows the machine to take care of the more mundane details. First ‘the machine’ liberated wood, and now the architect, could Chinese slave laborers be next?

July 22, 2011
general, Research, Work In Progress
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Reading response immaterial-ultramaterial

Architect: (definition)- Material appropriators

While being immersed in learning code, writing scripts, and designing objects this semester, this definition struck me. the reading, immaterial, ultramaterial includes a round table discussion that leads to this point- architects are material appropriators. we research, we invent, but ultimately we make applications. It is likely that as I learn Python, I will never invent code or push parameters past the advances of the people that wrote the code. However, I may be able to do something with the code beyond its original intentions. I think that is the role of the architect; to push an object beyond its original intentions to create new potential solutions. Mori also brings this up when talking with ‘scogin’. in order to enhance the texture on the facade of a buiding they used off-cuts (roughbacks) from a granite company to create a textured feel. they took waste, and celebrated its core qualities. This is the path of innovative thinking, and I believe it is what makes working with in the profession interesting.


July 22, 2011
general, Research, Work In Progress
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Limestone Panel defenition


I would like to share with everyone the file, definition I used as of Our meeting on monday.

Limestone Panel (rhino)

Grasshopper File ( reduced from a Fabrication tutorial)

Look for incremental updates to this post.

If you want to explore this as well, I recommend finding and downloading weaverbird, which is a mesh & surface analysis tool for Grasshopper.

and get the example file here:

good stuff!

July 12, 2011
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Protected: User interaction Design business plan

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July 12, 2011
User Interaction Design, Work In Progress
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Pattern making part 3

Nothing but flowers

additional divisions of my logic created flowers.

More to follow.


July 11, 2011
general, Research, Work In Progress
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User interaction Design – object


I have completed several tests to understand how grasshopper works. The ultimate goal is to create a software that anyone can interact with, and a computer script that makes all of the artifacts tangible.

I have made several tests, and here are the best itterations:



For any 2d line, create a vessel:

This test helped me develop my skills and realize how difficult it was to move through a parametric model, and the rigor it takes to know what you want to see happen, how you can make it happen, and what changes need to be made, against what is easy to do.


Test 2 was a test to create a vase with offset curves.

this vessel had walls with dynamic widths, so that deep and shallow shapes could be made.








This test  allowed me to begin to see what I could really do. once I understand the order of operations I would create in modeling space, I can achieve the same thing through a script. the unique part of the script was that I can capitalize ion diminishing returns. I can create inputs, and generate minute change in the input, and it has paramteric effects that when stacked together, can make a beautiful shape.

Ultimately these are both failures, as they are not yet responsive enough, but they have shown me how, with the right knowledge, the software can be intuitive enough to allow someone ‘uninitiated’ to use.

I also found this link, showing how others have done similar research.

At the end of this struggle, I found a script which I should be able to easily addapt to my purposes

It was used to design a tower, but it lays out a very direct path for what to get under control, and how to manipulate what you have. It creates a framework for how to use the software.

July 9, 2011
general, User Interaction Design, Work In Progress
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