Transformit Gorham, ME
Supplier: Fisher Textiles
Supplier: Dazian LLC
Engineer Name 1
Engineer Company 1
Planeta Design Group
Project Manager Company
Denise Laverriere, Jonathan Crowe, Tom Newhall, Brian Dunn
Please describe the project specifications
A site-specific luminary featuring images from the era when an assembly plant for the Ford Motor Company occupied the site. The luminary had to fit within a 20’ x25’ coffer in the lobby of a new apartment building.
What was the purpose of this project? What did the client request?
Cory Gans, senior designer for Planeta Design Group, envisioned a luminary using fabric to create a semi-transparent, light and airy feeling, and historical photographs from the site’s days as an assembly plant for the Ford Motor Company to create a sculptural lighting fixture in the lobby of the Montaje, a new apartment building at Assembly Row in Somerville, Massachusetts.
What is unique or complex about the project?
To our knowledge, nothing like this had been built before. Our senior designer Jonathan Crowe began by prototyping frames with various construction materials, eventually choosing a narrow aluminum extrusion for the frames. To achieve the varied angles of the hexagons, which was not possible with standard hardware, we designed and milled custom joinery in our machine shop. To affix the stretch fabric graphic panels and the white mesh, we employed our patented “FasTen” system, which enabled us to invisibly secure the fabric to channels in the frames. Working with 3D models and a lighting program, we were able to simulate how the chosen approach would look in the space. Once our client was satisfied with those early results, we built a full-size prototype of the smallest hexagon shape. To test how the graphics would look viewed from the front and reverse faces of the stretch fabric, we had graphics printed at various saturation levels. We also looked to see how the graphics appeared back-lit or front-lit, as well as when viewed directly or through the white mesh. By mocking up all these various options, our team could see that the historical “old” look Planeta’s Cory Gans sought for the photographs was best achieved with the images printed and illuminated on the outside face, meaning the image seen inside the hexagonal column is viewed indirectly, through the fabric. Additionally, we adjusted the print saturation level such that the exterior faces, when viewed through the white mesh, had a light value comparable to that of the interior faces.
Fitting the 20’ x 25’ tensioned mesh neatly and smoothly around the three truncated hexagonal columns required a hands-on touch. We printed and laid out a full-scale ceiling plan on our shop floor, upon which we assembled the entire piece bottom-side up, positioning the hexagons in their precise locations on the “ceiling." Our senior fabric designer, Denise Laverriere, then hand-cut and fit the mesh to the perimeter and hexagon frames, editing the material much like a tailor fitting a bespoke dress or suit. Laverriere was on hand for the fixture’s installation as well—which was now flipped bottom-side down and installed overhead in the ceiling coffer—making final adjustments in the fabric to maintain its smooth and precise tailored finish.
What were the results of the project?
The luminary, as the signature centerpiece in the much-admired Montaje lobby, has become a favorite of Montaje residents. Additionally, it has been featured in the Boston Globe and Curbed Boston, as well as CODAworx, the internationally recognized collaborative that recognizes and supports the integration of commissioned art into interior, architectural, or public spaces.
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