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]