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ideas in product design and sculpture thomas keiper

ideas in product design and sculpture scale:



table of contents

ring 1.0


ring 2.0








aggregate study 1.0


lamp 1.0


aggregate study 2.0


aggregate study 2.1 (aka lamp 2.0)


aggregate study 3.0


aggregate study 3.1


aggregate study 3.2


ring 1.0 (wire-wrap ring) in collaboration with: katie addicott given to: katie addicott year designed: 2011

4 The wire-wrap ring derives its simple form from the elegance of the solitaire ring. This form however, is seen in new character due to the method in which the wire-wrap ring is fabricated. The ring is developed as a thin strand of wire is formed into a circle to create the band of the ring. From then on, as the wire continues to accumulate, a small diversion in the path of the wire at the top of the band begins to form a knot that serves as gem of the ring. Eventually, after enough wire is wrapped, the final ring is produced. The resultant is a single-system ring that is imperfectly beautiful, with unified variety. The small gaps between the repetitions of wire allow for visual depth in the knot and delicacy in the band.




ring 2.0 (bar ring) in collaboration with: katie addicott given to: n/a year designed: 2012

6 The idea for the bar ring developed from the assertion that jewelry should be customizable and interchangeable. This is a ‘fun’ concept targeted toward a younger age group. The ring would be relatively inexpensive (the one pictured is made from walnut wood), yet it has a sophisticated aesthetic. The owner of the ring would be able to purchase a variety of colored bars, and the ring itself could be made in different color options. This would allow for many different combinations; one could choose a different color depending on outfit, mood, etc.


announcements (UF graduation announcements - century tower) in collaboration with: katie addicott given to: approximately 30 friends/family members year designed: 2012


silver thread

vellum cardstock

blue textured paper

watercolor paper

9 As graduation approached, my colleagues and I were faced with a decision: should we buy the impersonal and expensive announcements provided by an independent company, or should we make our own? Katie Addicott and I decided on the latter. As we were both graduating with a degree in architecture, we decided to collaborate on one card that we could ‘mass produce’ (this means about 30 cards), and we changed the name in the text to the respective graduate. The announcement that we made is much more of an embodiment of who we are than the generic ones we were offered. The card was designed using software that we use to design our projects, the card was fabricated with the tools we use in architecture school (the laser cutter, an Olfa, a cutting board, glue, etc.), and the card was made from materials that we work with every day for our projects (watercolor paper, and vellum cardstock). The image on the front of the announcement is of Century Tower, one of the icons of the school and the ‘Big Ben’ of the UF campus. The card features simple cutouts in the water color paper to reveal the blue color of our school and convey boldly the important information. The card is laser etched to finish off the detailing. The inside features a piece of vellum cardstock with the traditional text for announcements. All of the layers are held together with a silver string.

box (icon-o-box) in collaboration with: katie addicott given to: tom keiper year designed: 2011


1/4” solid with 1/16” offset lid 1/8” solid with 1/8” offset

1/4” with 1/8” offset cut out

1/8” with 1/8” offset cut out

1/4” with 1/8” offset cut out box 1/4” with 1/8” offset cut out

1/8” with 1/8” offset cut out

1/4” solid with no offset

The professional environment in the workplace often highlights ‘what one does,’ rather than ‘who he or she is.’ Generic office décor and accessories only serve to further emphasize this point. But the expression of personality in an office environment can lighten the air, provide a greater sense of belonging, and possibly even increase productivity. Also, when engaging in a business relationship, it is important that people ‘know’ the other person, or other people, that they will be working with. In a meeting, the Icon-o-box can serve as a conversation starter. While still being professional, the Icon-o-box subtly adds personality to one’s desk. The shape of the box is defined by one’s interests. And these interests (or at least, hints of these interests) are viewed as a simplified iconography. The box is designed to hold paperclips, pushpins, small candies, etc. It is made of a solid piece of wood for the base and multiple strips of wood for the sides. These strips are cut from different thicknesses of wood, which adds variation and texture to the final product. The Icon-o-box is a flexible system as it can accommodate any desired depth and any iconic form. The box is completely customizable. The example that is presented on this page is of Watkins Glen International race track. The box was designed for a car enthusiast who once raced on the track.


trivet (hex-triangle trivet) in collaboration with: this is an ‘off shoot’ of an architecture project I worked on under the guidance of wendy fok given to: n/a year designed: 2010

12 The hex-triangle trivet is both a practical/functional answer to a simple problem and an exploration in geometry-driven form making. Trivets are designed to mitigate the heat from a hot vessel, so that the vessel can safely rest on a table without damage to the table. To be effective the trivet must increase both the pathway of radiation and the pathway of conduction. The hex-triangle trivet elevates the hot vessel to increase the distance between the bottom of the vessel and the top of the table (protecting the table from radiant heat). The trivet is made of 12 capsules that alternate in a specific pattern: down, mid, up, mid, etc. This sequence ensures that the heat will travel through multiple capsules allowing the temperature to be diffused into the surrounding air (protecting the table from conductive heat). Every capsule is made from 2 different facets: an equilateral triangle surface and a right triangle surface. These facets increase the surface area of the trivet, allowing the trivet to cool.


hot !!!

not so hot

not so hot

aggregate study 1.0 (“robin’s nest”) in collaboration with: n/a given to: n/a year designed: 2010

14 Robin’s nest is designed as an interactive sculpture. The concept is inspired from a birds nest where multiple twigs are gathered together to produce a given form. The idea is that one would open the packaging to find many identical 3-pronged basswood pieces, each with a notch. No glue or adhesive is needed. The user would simply notch the pieces together to form a unit. The units are then stackable, and they interlock with each other, constrained only by gravity and friction. Stack the units to make a sculpture, knock it down, build again, etc. Every outcome is different and there are infinite possibilities. The presented image imagines a time after the demise of Batman; Robin does not live in the Bat Cave, and he needs a place of his own.

bird’s nest 15

laser-cut pieces (two pieces are notched together to make the piece with 6 prongs)

option 1

option 2

and infinite more

minaire design was re of the Hillestak he luminaire is inlluminate a desk or lamp produces a ndicular to a .

lamp 1.0 (look lamp) in collaboration with: n/a given to: n/a year designed: 2010

16 Task lighting is often harsh and direct; of course this is for practical reasons. But is it possible for a task lamp to also contribute to the over ambiance of a space? The look lamp investigates this question. The lamp is intended to be used on a desk/work surface for reading at the end of the day when one is ‘winding down’ from his or her hectic activities. The light from the front (larger piece of glass) of the lamp looks across the pages providing ample, but soft illumination, while a smaller curved glass piece at the back of the lamp allows for a gentle glow that adds to the ‘mood’ of the space. The lamp was also designed with specific furniture in mind. Although the look lamp would be compatible with a variety of furniture, it is specifically intended to be congruent in style with the Hillestak Chair from Robin Day. The lamp takes inspiration from the chair’s simple, yet elegant form.

lager glass in front allows for task lighting support to hold the light bulb

curved glass allows for ambient light at the back of the lamp switch

legs: 4 pieces of 1/8” wood


aggregate study 2.0 (“bubble burst bookends�) in collaboration with: n/a given to: n/a year designed: 2010




19 To be clear, the label of ‘aggregate study’ in the case of the bubble burst bookends (and also the following bubble burst lamp) is a bit of a misnomer. Technically, this is more of an inverse of an aggregate system in that the collected units -the balloons- are removed in the final step of the process. The study began with inquiries of the possibility of a fabrication method and the curiosity in a ‘chancemade’ form: Is it possible to randomly fill a mold with water balloons, pour plaster in the remaining voids, and remove the balloons after the plaster dries? And if so, what result would this produce? The bookends are an intriguing formal/sculptural experiment. The rigid edges of the rectilinear mold create an interesting juxtaposition with the less predictable blob-ish voids created by the balloons. The voids provide visual depth and allow for interesting shadows.

aggregate study 2.1 (“bubble burst lamp� or lamp 2.0) in collaboration with: brief conversations with justin bienven given to: n/a year designed: 2011


23 The bubble burst lamp was made using the same process as the bubble bust bookends. After seeing the success of the bookends and the way the voids interacted with light, I wanted to see what would happen if the light came from within the volume, as opposed to external light(s) shining on the form. The lamp consists of two main components: the base, a stained, plywood square that holds the light bulb and contains the switch and wiring; and the shade, the holey, plaster cube with a rectilinear void in the middle for the light bulb. The lamp is intended to provide accent lighting to a space. The main focus is not to illuminate a room, but simply to create a beautiful light and shadow pattern. The warm speckled glow adds an extra dimension to the lighting of a space.

aggregate study 3.0 (“tri-fold pavilion�) in collaboration with: lee-su huang, gregory spaw (and team), justin bienvenu, joo-seung lee given to: Boston Society of Architects (BSA) as part of a grant year designed: 2011




25 As part of a research grant funded by the BSA, a team of researchers and I explored the possible development and architectural applications of thermoformed plastic assemblies. We wanted to develop a plastic module, or a few plastic modules, that would be able to combine to create an inhabitable sculpture or a pavilion. In developing the module, we first set design criteria: the unit had to be flat-packable, lightweight, easy to assemble, structurally performative, and variable. As a starting point, we looked into rigid origami, and other options for folding paper. These studies made use a flat material and utilized folds to create a structural system. Eventually we became primarily interested in the studies of Ron Resch and Buckminster Fuller. The Resch geometries are variable as they expand and contract, while the Fuller geometries are inherently structural. Thus we decided to create a hybrid unit that merged the advantages of both. The first hybrid unit was threepronged and centered on a hexagonal center (when flat), where the edges of the hexagon were able to bend at their midpoint to create a total of 12 edges. As the unit was developed further, we decided to push the aforementioned hexagon to each end of the 3 prongs, and the new unit centered on a triangle, which had edges that could also be bent at their midpoint, for a total of 6 edges.

unit for development and aggregation study :

graphic of final unit with insert, but without connection modifications

In the interest of understanding the load distribution and the areas of stress in the units that we were making, we purchased Scan-and-Solve software. The software allowed us to view areas of high stress compared to areas of low stress, while also showing where and how a given shape would deform. Because we were not sure what form the final sculpture/pavilion would take, we first tested generic forms to conclude if certain forms were more advantageous. Next, we tested the stress distribution in a single unit, and finally we tested the aggregate structural performance of a few units. The major change that resulted from testing came in the form of a second unit (explained below).

The tri-fold unit is interesting in that when it is assembled in the fully folded position, it creates a planar form and has no curvature. But as the inside triangles begin to open, the assembly in total begins to take on a natural curvature. It was decided that if we could control the degree to which each unit opened, we could easily control the form of the entire assembly. There was one problem however: using both scan-and-solve and basic reasoning, it was obvious that the unit was structural in the fully folded position as it created a system of triangulation; but in any other position the unit was semi-flimsy. A separate unit was needed to control the degree of openness. A unit was developed that allowed for a desired variability: when inserted slightly into the center of the original unit, it produced a small curvature, but when pushed further into the center of the unit, the system began to curve more. This new unit also increased both the compressive and tensile limits of the original unit.

extension of the secondary unit that snaps into the center of the original unit

tab can be torn to fit into the center of another unit actual snap configuration

To connect the individual units, an intricate snap system was developed to allow for assembly without any fasteners. The system is radially organized and consists of positive snaps, negative snaps and holes. In order for one prong to connect to another, a positive snap passes through a hole and locks into a negative snap. To allow for folded units to fit in the center of a formed hexagon (seen in the upper right image) a tear-off system was designed: one tab from the end of a prong is torn if the unit is to fit within the center of another unit. Also the snaps are designed to accept the secondary unit that is inserted into the center of certain units, and the system also allows for incremental adjustments. In many cases, not all snaps are used to make a connection. For example, if a hexagon formation is not filled with a unit, some snaps go unused. But all units are the same; the snaps simply allow for the variability. The image on the bottom left shows a few modules laser-cut from Mylar; this is a study in the process of fabrication. The final units will be made from a mold cut on the CNC machine, (similar to the mold seen in the bottom right image). Once the mold is made, small holes will be drilled into it, and it will be used in the thermoforming process. In this process, plastic (in our case PETG) is heated and placed over the mold, and then a vacuum pulls the plastic against the mold until it cools.

The team is still currently testing the limits and tolerances involved in the fabrication process. Unfortunately, after graduation, I had to leave the team.

concept for snap configuration (simplified)

graphic of potential pavilion installation

aggregate study 3.1 (“tri-fold cloud”) in collaboration with: justin bienvenu given to: n/a year designed: 2012

32 By the end of the term for research on the tri-fold module, our team was left with a surplus stack of study pieces we had developed over the past semester. These pieces were laser-cut units of the tri-fold module fashioned from bristol paper. Fellow team member, (Justin Bienvenu) and I decided to make use of these leftover pieces. The result became an assemblage installed in a friend’s apartment space- resembling a cloud floating over the living room. The piece was constructed by gluing the individual modules into its final cloud form and hanging it by fishing line from hooks placed high on the walls. Laser-cut ‘anchors’ were cut from blue plexi to connect the string into a module piece. 166 laser-cut, folded, paper units

7 plastic, adhesive hooks

yards of fishing line

7 plexiglass triangle ‘anchors’

(text on this page by justin bienvenu)


aggregate study 3.2 (“tri-fold canopy�) in collaboration with: katie addicott given to: n/a year designed: 2012


35 Bed Canopies in general, tend to have an association with a feminine aesthetic. This is probably because they are typically frilly, soft, airy, etc. Not that any one of these characteristics is necessarily “girly” in an isolated instance- it is the combination I think. But bed canopies are Awesome! They define and contain the space of a bed, adding an extra level of protection or coziness. They anchor a bed visually, providing a sense of belonging in connection with the ceiling and wall. They provide a visual gradation, lengthening the usually abrupt bed to not-bed spectrum- canopies are a transitional element. But what is a man’s man to do if he ever wants a bed canopy? Yes, there is the option of the headboard, but headboards don’t mitigate the edge between ceiling and wall and they will never live up to the greatness of canopies. The tri-fold canopy is a non-gender-bias answer, and it has all the desirable aspects and functions of any other canopy. Because the canopy is generated from geometry it has its roots in logic (a gender bridging understanding), not beauty which is subject to ‘taste’ and more vulnerable to a gender bias. The canopy is made of multiples of the same unit, that when assembled, create a ‘blanket’ which is able to take many forms. This allows the canopy to soften the ceiling-wall edge, while still being rigid in conception- a delicate balance.


but why?

“we like it”

chuck norris and jon hamm approved!!!

to be continued‌

Product Design and Sculpture Portfolio  

Thomas Keiper. Ideas in product design and sculpture.

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