Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cool Studio of Rob Bell

Yesterday my daughter Emily and I visited the millwork, design and fabrication studio of Rob Bell. His studio was so fascinating and the varied projects he works on are really unique. I felt like I was entering an old woodshop in Florence as we stepped down the custom curved steps and into the space..that is until I saw all the high tech computer milling equipment and robotic arm at the back of the shop.

In my exploration for fabricators for the public art project I am working on, my sister, Lisa, recommended I contact Rob Bell as Clif Bar uses his creative design and fabrication services for their displays for trade shows and other events. One great aspect of his work is that he can build things that break down easily and are very elegantly designed and are beautiful to look at. Hanging from the ceiling and up high perched on cases were structures that looked like diatoms. This was a happy surprise as the project I am working on references local cre
eks and rivers and the rise in diatoms due to trash clogging.

Below is a preliminary design for a modular green house he created. The final greenhouse (located in Berkeley) looked spectacular in the images he showed me. It seemed like a bit of public art itself as he had a team of volunteers follow his directions and completed the structure in two days. Images of it can be seen here:

I have als
o begun to outreach to dancers, particular Butoh dancers, as I explore set design. In this frame of mind this "scrap" wood below caught my eye. The open triangular areas were for a project and this board is what remained. I think a series of similar forms would cast really interesting shadows with the right lighting and it would be great for dancers to move in front of and behind. I also love the idea of giving a new life to something that was supposedly scrap. It is hard to see here, but the cuts have very nice clean faceted edges that would cast light in interesting ways. This piece is eight feet by four feet. I am hoping to drive up my van soon and pick this piece up!

Below, Mr. Bell gave Emily a wave form to draw on while we talked. The wave was a test piece for a project that my sister, Lisa Whitsitt, designed at Clif Bar and Zomadic created. Emily drew diatoms and amoebas on it. It was an inspiring visit and I hope Emily retains a memory of it.

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