Drop city, 1960’s.

A not so brief history of Zometool

*I added click links where I felt it relevant as this historical breakdown touches on many influential people and movements which are worth looking into.

“The mathematical universe lives all around us. New ideas, forms, and methods exist everywhere, ready to be introduced into human culture. It just takes someone who can see what is there and make something out of it.

Steve Baer was one of those people.

Baer was fascinated with the dome geometry introduced by architect R. Buckminster Fuller. In the early 60’s, he was an occasional guest at an experimental community, Drop City, near Trinidad, CO. The founders of Drop City included “drop artists” Clark Richert, and Gene and Jo Ann Bernofsky.

In planning the community, the founders discovered that domes have their limitations as living quarters. They must have circular floors. There are many edges and joints, with many different edge lengths. They are fairly complicated to construct, and changing their shape to fit specific needs upsets their structural integrity.

Having become fascinated with polyhedra after seeing semi-regular figures his wife constructed with a child’s toy while they lived in Zurich, Baer invented a new system, which could build a vast array of shapes with a much smaller inventory of parts. The word Zome was coined by Steve Durkee of the Lama Foundation, which first published Baer’s Dome Cookbook, and Steve Baer. Domes could be designed with Zome geometry (not true geodesics, but similar), as well as homes with more fanciful shapes. A real strength of Zome constructions is the relative ease with which additions can be made.

The small Zome that resided at Drop City is gone now, along with the rest of the community structures, but Baer’s current house in Corrales, NM was built using the Zome concept.

Zomeworks, incorporated in 1969, raised capital to make playground climbers, structures and the Zometoy modeling sets. These were developed and patented in 1969 and 1970 by Zomeworks Corporation and Stanley Marsh III or Amarillo, Texas. Zometoy used plastic ball joints and wooden dowel struts. It was demonstrated at the New York Toy Fair in 1971. Zometoy made the same forms as the current Zometool System. However, it was relatively crude and inconvenient.

In 1979 destiny unites the brilliance of Marc Pelletier and Paul Hildebrandt.

Marc Pelletier, an avid geometer and fan of Steve Baer’s work, and Paul Hildebrandt, who was very interested in developing alternative housing structures, find a unique balance of talents that lead to developing the “impossible” connector ball, the marvel behind the Zome tool system.

With a goal of making Zome geometry accessible even to 6 year olds, they set out to design and develop a toy that would ignite the imaginations of our future architects, scientists and engineers. Knowing that the geometry was so revolutionary that it could change the shape of our world, Pelletier and Hildebrandt began their work in Boulder, Colorado.

It took them over ten years. They developed an ingenious design for a connector ball. They designed a set of struts in specific shapes and colors that both children and adults could easily handle. At that point, they had to find someone who would buy the idea and manufacture the toy.

The toy makers who saw it smiled and said nobody could ever mold the connector. Hildebrandt and Pelletier took their design to toolmakers all over the world. Even in Germany and Japan, toolmakers just shook their heads. In the USA, nobody would touch it.

Knowing the importance of their work, Hildebrandt and Pelletier decided to learn injection molding for themselves.

In 1988, Bob Nickerson takes on the challenge.

Master machinist Bob Nickerson, in Denver, Colorado, saw their design and opened the window of opportunity by telling Pelletier and Hildebrandt that he believed he could machine the “impossible” tool. Hope restored, Hildebrandt and Pelletier founded BioCrystal, Inc. (which would become Zometool in 1997) to raise capital and manufacture Zometool. Over a period of several years’ work machining the parts for the most complicated plastic injection mold ever designed, and with the donation of an ancient injection molding machine from the University of Colorado, they were finally ready to put it all together and do the first test run.

The first ball came out perfect, the very first time. A revolutionary intellectual technology was born. The date was April 1, 1992.

For some time, Zometool remained a bit of a secret from the general public. The product spoke for itself, however, among mathematicians and research scientists, who could immediately see uses for Zometool in their work. The system, with math based on Golden Section proportions and 2-, 3-, and 5-fold symmetries, applies to an amazing variety of scientific pursuits.

NASA started using the tool for AIDS virus research in space, and for a space station project. After the discovery of quasicrystals, for which Dan Shechtman was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, both Shechtman and 2-time Nobel laureate Linus Pauling used Zometool during the debate over whether quasicrystals were real Zometool was and still is the only system capable of modeling quasicrystals. Mathematicians such as Roger Penrose of Oxford University and John Conway of Princeton University use Zometool to model complex geometric forms.

After publishing his “An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything” in 2007, physicist Garrett Lisi would sometimes use Zometool to illustrate the complex 8-dimensional structure (watch video here) underpinning his theory which combines particle physics with Einstein’s theory of gravitation.

None of which made Zometool any less fun for kids.

Linking the geometry of the ancient Greeks to quantum physics, from inner space to outer space, Zometool is positioned to be the basis of spatial interpretation for the new millennium.”

Zometool kits

You may have noticed these interesting looking structures around the shop lately…
I discovered them at an  exhibition earlier this year and was immediately drawn to them.  Olafur Eliasson is one of the most relevant and interesting artists of today if you ask me. I’m told he will be showing at the MAC here in Montreal in the very near future which is great news! Anyway I’m getting sidetracked here.
There was an atelier set up to play with these “toys”as part of his show.
I eagerly purchased my first kit right there on the spot, and have been transfixed by them since.
Back in Montreal, I decided to get in touch with the company and place an order for the shop. I somehow got to talking with the current company president and there seems to be a mutual interest in working together… let’s see what happens!
Until then I strongly suggest you get one of the kits now available in-store, and see for yourself just how inspiring and educational this invention is.

 

Auto Studio, 12-2016.

Sculptures

A series of one-of-a-kind sculptures by Auto Studio currently available in Le Partage pop-up.

Wood
2.5″ x 6″

ibiki fall/winter looks. 12, 2016.

F/W 16 Shop Selects

Photography: Alex Blouin
Location: White Wall Studio
Models: Benji + Talya
Wardrobe: ibiki

12, 2016.

In-House Brand Launch

It’s been quite some time in the making, but finally we have our own gear!
While this first drop is a contained collection with graphical inserts on basic garments, the long term goal is to explore cutting and sewing, and expand into other product categories.

The concept is quite simple really; we’re making our own Versions of stuff.

I was toying with the idea of having infinite and finite in one same thing. A sort of fractal way of looking at things; The constant here is the source, me. And the limitless possibilities of twists on known “objects” is the open ended part. I wanted a branding that would lend itself well to the inconsistency of products offered, and timelines they are offered in. Freeing myself from market standards, and enabling a sharper tunnage into doing what feels right.

The first release revolves around a series of graphic prints co-designed by Alexis Coutu-Marion and Myself. There’s also one guest print by my buddy Luc Paradis.

Those of you interested in the graphic side of things can check out the research that went into the brandings visual and conceptual direction above. The idea was to start from a font we chose, then make a timeline breakdown of 7 versions of fonts which came from that initial one (in our case Akzidenz Grotesk). With that chronological set of 8, we appropriated one letter per font. The V from the first one, E from the second, R from the third etc, creating a version of 8 versions of one font.

To make that final selection ours, we re-calibrated and unified the stroke thickness to make one final type logo.

A visual representation, in type, of the conceptual orientation.

…Keep an eye out for Versions!

Josiane Issa

I made sure to include some of our shop manager’s beautiful photography work in the Le Partage pop-up this year.
Josiane Issa’s contribution is this exquisite duet of inkjet prints (produced at Borealis).
12″ x 12″

15.12 to 31.12, 2016.

Le Partage – A Holiday Pop-up

From December 15th to 31st we’re hosting a little pop-up story around the theme of sharing.

…an amalgamation of gift ideas fabricated by friends and collaborators of the shop will be released before your very eyes.

A dazzling evening with fun and affordable items presented for your shopping pleasures.

Many items are one-offs or produced in very small runs so it’s a bit of a first come first serve scenario. BUT, the pop-up will run until Christmas (until stock lasts).

Opening night is Thursday December 15th from 18h to 21h.

ibiki 4357 Boul. St-Laurent.

See you there!!