1 December 2007
Faculty and Student Work on Way to Milan Furniture Fair
FACULTY EXHIBIT WORK IN RICHMOND ON WAY TO MILAN
Joe Wheeler, AIA and Robert Dunay, AIA were invited to present student work in the Richmond, Virginia Convention Hall during Architecture Exchange East. As the annual convention for the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, the professional meeting attracts nearly 1000 architects and designers to the three-day event.
Wheeler, Assistant Professor, and Dunay, T. A. Carter Professor of Architecture in the School of Architecture + Design designed, fabricated and assembled in Richmond the exhibit structure. The title of the exhibition, industrialize furniture, links design as an intellectual and physical process. These modes of engagement challenge and measure the separation of the commonplace and banal from the engaging and exquisite. Projects presented in Richmond aspire to the latter, making a particular case. As attempts to exploit and exhibit technological innovation, new forms are sought. Presented in the form of prototypes, the works require extended study. Yet in each lurks an idea skirting the realm between fantasy and false fiction.
This body of design research was recently accepted for presentation at the SaloneSatellite at the Milan Furniture Fair in April 2008. The exposition, the largest and most important of its kind in the world, will showcase the best work from over 50 countries and will give students the chance to interact with top international designers. Virginia Tech will be one of the few American university entries. The vision for the School of Architecture + Design exhibition is to fulfill the promise of industrialized furniture by sending digital files and having the work fabricated in Italy.
The projects exhibited here are the result of a course led by Joseph Wheeler, AIA and Robert Dunay, AIA. The work is being developed for an exhibition at the SaloneSatellite of the Milan Furniture Fair. We wish to thank B&M Sheet Metal of Roanoke, Virginia for their generous support and expertise.
Design resides as a tension between ideas and concepts. The question what if? is challenged by the consequential if then. As the duality unfolds, conception and making become engaged in a dialog searching for increased complexity.
Design is also a linking of intellectual and physical processes. One may precede the other, but once initiated, they form an engagement of challenge and measure to separate the commonplace and banal from the engaging and exquisite. Projects in this exhibition aspire to that end, making a particular case. As attempts to exploit and exhibit technological innovation, new forms evolve through what we have termed industrialized furniture. As prototypes, they require extended study. Yet in each lurks an idea skirting the realm between fantasy and false fiction.
Computer Aided Design (CAD), Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) have been the province of the automotive and aerospace industries. Until the recent past, other design fields have peered with envy at the precision of the structure/function relation that yields material performance. These possibilities are now entering the consciousness of architects and industrial designers, changing not only the way one acts, but the way one thinks and views history. Traditional constructs of 2-D and 3-D give way to a simultaneity that transmits information directly from the designer to manufacturer. Mass production accompanied by the promise of ultimate customization makes new a relation to the world. Exact copies of digital models; zero waste; rapid production; on-time-assembly; efficient shipping; lower cost; reduced labor; higher quality control; and sustainable design are all claimed for this new world. We can only hope our thoughts are more precise than our machines.