These bread bowls were designed by Jeff Welch and Nathan Currier-Groh at BaserMatter for Sotto, a premier Italian restaurant in downtown Cincinnati. The design reflected an initiative to produce products that celebrate their own materiality as well as the processes used to create them. The client was interested in a natural, almost rustic aesthetic which was leveraged into a bowl design that expressed the beauty of Walnut by allowing the CNC mill’s round tool to leave its mark in the direction of the grain. For mass production, numerous bowls were machined along the length of several single boards before being cut free, laser-branded, oiled and delivered.
These conceptual design projects were completed in the employment of Group Four Design and Insight Product Development. This sampling includes a case for Skil/Bosch power tools that went into production in 2002, medical computer carts developed for Herman Miller and a baby monitor for Graco.
Modularem founder Jeff Welch worked with a team of consulting designers at the Michigan firm Bonnette Design to design and develop vehicles for the Marine Industry between 2003 and 2005. This yacht, produced by Searay Boats in 2006, represents the most comprehensive design developed by the team, who were responsible for providing a multitude of iterations for both the exterior and interior aesthetic as well as finalized drawings and models required for production. The images here illustrate Jeff’s personal contribution to the project which included hand drawn interior design concepts and the complete development of the digital 3D model, refined to engineering standards and used as the final surface model for the CNC cutting of the production fiberglass molds. The series of hand drawn helm / instrument cluster concepts were requested by midwest manufacturer Larsen Boats to help define a design direction for their sport boat line.
This gallery is a sampling of toy concepts designed for both Fisher-Price and Hasbro.
This 3-in-1 ultralight was a new vehicle for the popular Rescue-Heros action figure line by Fisher Price. Its design was an exercise in balancing play value with costing and manufacturing to find an optimal solution. As with most toys, it's size was limited by the space available on the toy store shelves but it needed to accommodate the bulky and odd proportions of a Rescue Hero action figure. The final design prioritized the child's play pattern by incorporating multiple transformations that, in the presence of imagination, allowed the vehicle to become a car, jet-pack or plane capable of landing anywhere due to a set of fenders that pivot into skis.
This is an academic auto design project from 2003. It was designed around the theory that there is a traditional division in the auto industry separating utilitarian vehicles from performance cars that has concealed an opportunity to produce a car inspired by both that could be very relevant to our contemporary, diverse lifestyles. Since the automobile has become a complete necessity to many of our daily lives, one should be able to experience both the performance and admiration of an aggressive car without sacrificing on the ruggedness required to survive on competitive and often under maintained roads. This design is a fusion of two vernaculars. Since early cars like Duesenbergs were built for dirt roads but styled with beauty and precision, it was envisioned that this car would have the same utilitarian capacity, durability and style as was common in the 1930s but in a contemporary, early 2000s form. This car features sport proportions with durable materials protecting impact areas and a removable roof and hatch that completely opens up the trunk/bed for maximum cargo capacity. Designed for a Chrysler sponsored studio, it features the design language of the Dodge division, fitting well conceptually within the intentions of that brand.
Wellness Education Center Concept
The final Wellness Center proposal retains all the goals set forth in part one. It is entirely organized on a radiating, gradient pattern and adheres diagrammatically to a tri-part plan intended to encourage a cyclical routine experience.
The wood structure of part 1 has been strategically replaced by a system of concrete piers supporting a sheet metal, homogeneous structural cladding enclosure, based on research that produced a viable Structural Skin according to the parameters of the project.
The enclosure illustrated was generated with a Grasshopper Script in Rhino, which was designed to panelize a surface with folded components and adjust their size according to multi-directional gradient factors. For modeling and proof-of-concept, it automatically pulled 2d line-work from the 3d model, numbered the components and organized them into a layout for laser cutting. This powerful tool made it possible to fully execute a theme dependent on expansion and experienced through gradients in every geometry, from the procession of spaces and volumes to the structural skin panels sizes.
Island Visitors Center
Academic Goal :
To propose a Visitors Center and Boater’s Lounge for the newly created Lakeshore State Park, located on a man-made island off the coast of Milwaukee. The building should be a landmark to announce the entrance of the new park and must accommodate park staff, pedestrians/bikers and boaters, providing them with information, shelter, restrooms and showers. Because it is on an island, the building must be completely self sufficient, filtering waste and generating its own power.
This building is a figure/ground composition study. It consists of three gestural elements that formally reference historic industrial waterfront structures and project through a horizontal plane while having minimal perceived interaction with it. To further placate the marine nature of the site, it is built of arced timber (laminated) in the fashion of a wood boat hull. This construction method allows for a majority of the structure to be built and clad off site.
The cladding is a main feature of the design. The triangular copper panels compose a dynamic rain screen. Some panels would be hinged along one side so they could open, exposing vents and windows and allowing the skin to adapt to the weather and sun.
When it rains, water is funneled from the roof to a “wishing well” like reservoir at the center of the gathering space where it is then pumped to tanks located on the second stories of two of the towers so it can be used in the showers and toilets. This keeps the ground plan open and allows for natural water pressure to the fixtures. Water is heated by solar water heaters on the tilted roofs and stored above the boaters showers, which are active for three seasons. In the winter, when the showers are not used, the hot water energy is transferred to the floors for heat.
Desert Canyon Transit
Academic Goal :
To learn the parameters of wood construction and to design within those parameters to create a structure suitable to a desert environment. Specifically, this building should provide vertical transit to the various altitudes of its site and offer its occupants a place of refuge after a day of intense hiking. It should protect them from the dangers of the desert, enhance their wilderness experience and accommodate the storage and setup of tents. The program specifically required that the building be built entirely of standard sized lumber with exception of steel rod for cross bracing.
This structure functions in many capacities. It serves as a stair system connecting the lower valley and the upper plateau of the desert site. Visitors traveling through the structure experience the vertical nature of the canyon and experience a promenade of views unattainable from the ground. Tents are stored on the lowest level and can be pitched inside or on a number of rooftop patios. In this way, visitors are protected from animals and many spaces inside the building provide protection from direct sunlight and wind. Roof top edges are protected by floor setbacks and not guardrails to maintain the excitement of precarious cliff dwelling. The entire structure lightly inhabits and surrounds a natural concavity in the canyon wall and at night becomes the grandstand for a campfire ceremoniously lit within.
The structural ethic of this proposal is one of complete material authenticity. Every structural element and force has been accounted for, making it entirely feasible without sculptural or experiential compromise.
One of the most fascinating aspects of nature is the bi-directional interaction of individual parts to the whole that they compose. Complex natural systems such as ant lines and schools of fish adapt and interact through a fast series of local interaction between individuals that affect the movement of the whole group. The individual can affect the whole and the whole can affect the individual. This relationship creates a “singularity” that can act like an individual when interrupted by an outside force. This is seen when a shark swims into a school of fish and the whole school, at nearly the same time, reacts and avoids the shark. Only a few of the fish could actually see the shark but the whole school reacted. Similar to neurons, the fish can each send an electrical impulse that is intercepted and transferred by the neighbor fish to the whole nearly instantly. These complex systems also demonstrate redundancy. If a few fish die, the school will not subsequently parish.
This Wall and Gate is simple singularity accomplished by an interaction of interrelated parts that affect one another. When the door handle is pulled, the adjacent structural part reacts through the tension of the springs that connect it and it subsequently pulls the next part and so on. All parts are held together solely through the tension of the springs. There is no glue or mechanical fasteners. Furthermore, the topography surrounding the handle swells to indicate the pull action required to open it, hopefully instructing the user of this action. Nature is also very efficient. Here, efficiency is achieved by ensuring that all parts are functioning in more than one way. For instance, the springs hold the parts together, enable movement, transfer forces and one even acts as the handle. A full scale, CNC milled mock-up was constructed to prove that the system works.
Academic goal :
To explore the meaning of shelter and to design a freestanding residential suite that houses two visitors, providing them with the appropriate setting for meditative retreat, all while seamlessly blending into and preserving a natural environment.
This project was limited to 350 square feet so the building was an exercise of elegant planning. It is a simple cabin, partially buried in the ground for both emotional and thermal protection and to literally root the building into the land. Its material pallet is mostly native to the site and includes field stones as well as earth and sod for the foundation and walls and the roof structure is timber construction. A multi-functioning central wall provides the structure necessary to support the roof and provide lateral bracing while also dividing the interior space, providing shelves and radiating stored heat. There is a bird habitat and cantilevered stairs on the exterior of the wall that lead up to the vegetated roof, which is a meditation location. Other multi-function features to note are a sink, placed so it can be used in the kitchen and while exiting the bathroom, a meditation/bed platform and, on the outside, platforms for sitting in the summer and firewood storage in the winter.