Powers of 10

30 years ago, Charles and Ray Eames made a quaint little movie called Powers of Ten (Unfortunately the site doesn’t have a working copy of the video, but here’s a Simpsons knock-off courtesy of YouTube).  It showed the difference in scale of items across the universe.  I’ve always thought the concept was fascinating, but how can you turn it into a business?

As it happens, Chuck Hoberman has turned  it into an award winning architecture practice.  His work on creating an easily-erectible tent was recently featured in the Design Life Now and led to me getting to attend a studio visit at their New York head office.

What does this have to do with Powers of Ten?  Well, Hoberman and his associates are focused on understanding what happens if you approach a design problem and try to physically transform the object.  This has led them to create everything from heart stents to roofs (and the stage for the 2002 Winter Olympics) to the ubiquitous expanding toys seen above.  Additional projects they’re prototyping include paper origami that expands to become a wall, foldable chairs, tables and boxes and a retracting iris-like roof for a stadium.

The amazing thing here is that they’ve applied a common principle: “transform the object” to dimensions ranging from 10^-3 to 10^2 meters.  There really aren’t too many firms or people who can claim to have done that.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Eameshttp://www.powersof10.com/http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCfDRvDWid0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCfDRvDWid0http://www.hoberman.com/popup.htmlhttp://www.peoplesdesignaward.org/designlifenow/designers/hoberman-associates-inchttp://www.peoplesdesignaward.org/designlifenow/http://www.hoberman.com/site/theory/images/stage8.jpgshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2shapeimage_2_link_3shapeimage_2_link_4shapeimage_2_link_5shapeimage_2_link_6shapeimage_2_link_7

Thursday, March 22, 2007

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