Oh Look, It's Just Another Bear Made Out Of 20,000 Zip Ties

DOTS, a Kentucky-based firm, builds a "massimal."

The belle of the recent Beaux Arts Ball, in Lexington, Kentucky, was a bear. Alright, not an actual bear — a life-size rendition of one, constructed from 20,000 zip ties. Impressive! Not to mention a little bonkers.

The bear is the sixth "massimal" from the Lexington architecture firm Design Office Takebayashi Scroggin (DOTS), which has built similar forms in different materials. Once the architects digitally modeled the bear, they "rolled" it using software that generates flat templates from three-dimensional surfaces, kind of like peeling an orange. They then printed out the templates to scale and began filling them in with connected zip ties. Amazingly enough, it took less than two weeks to make, with the help of about 20 volunteers. Since the finished structure is soft and flexible, it was attached to cable supports strung from the ceiling.

What's the point? "Massimals are 1:1 design objects that serve as prototypes to examine how physical form can engage the public realm," DOTS explains. Wait a minute. Are these architects drawing a connection between a zip-tie bear and, say, a building? That's a gigantic cognitive leap. After all, people will respond to just about anything shaped like a cute animal, even when it's presented as highfalutin art. Why not just call it what it is: a fun exercise that gets the spatial juices flowing? There's never any shame in that.

[All images courtesy of DOTS]

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  • Tiffany Del Valle

    I share the same sentiment but more on the fact that I treat Architecture and Fashion Design as sisters. I have been attending Fashion Week shows on a regular basis, and as a professional Interior Designer; I find that I am able to to interpret design theories on both industry. My professor once said, Architecture and Fashion Design are indeed closely related industries. I just didn't know how much up until years after. Great work! I would love to that bear in my loft! Kudos.

  • Renee Sherrer

    Impressive.  As a Fashion Designer, I've been claiming for YEARS that making clothes is the interface between 2 and 3 dimensions, taking a fluid material (like fabric) and making it take the shape of a 3-dimensional object (the body). The flat design for the bear looks exactly like a pattern for a garment.  The only difference between basic Fashion Design and Architecture is scale (and of course those pesky things like water pipes and electricity etc.  Hate to be so "told you so"...but fashion designers have been doing this for YEARS, maybe not with zip ties, but with other materials.  Many folks have no idea how complicated that really is.

  • Daniela

    Wow that is sooo cool! I have a huge soft spot for zip ties.  I'm not sure that prototypes of form necessarily imply that the architects are making the leap of saying the bear is like a building, but when I look at this I think that the forms, color, texture, and breeziness could easily make for an architectural analogy.