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Travel | Tomita Designs

GLO apartments- Los Angeles part2

December 7th, 2009 by admin

Continuation from part1…

Recap: Installed teak cabanas and bar at the Glo Apartments in downtown LA for Myhre Group Architects in August.

Part2 involved this solid teak bar with Corian top and accompanying jumbo cabana.

This cabana was HUGE.  9ft tall!  It was nerve wracking assembling it on site and erecting the thing because it is so heavy and tall.  I had a system using 2×4s to create temporary bracing which allowed me to slide the parts closer to each other with ratchet straps in unison moving very slooooowly.  Any racking and the teak could break.

I actually had not mocked up the fabric with any of the cabana structures before I had left for LA.  Stupid yes, but I had no choice.  The fabric arrived late from Italy setting off a chain reaction of stress which led to the finished fabric elements arriving as the freight truck was arriving, leaving no time to even open the package. I flew down knowing I would have to wing it on site- nothing new there!

The first problem I encountered was that the pitch of the tensile roof was not adequate to keep water from pooling.  If you ever estimate the minimum pitch for a fabric roof- double it!  On the spot we devised an elegant solution:  pull the center up reminiscent of the Olympic Stadium in Munich!

On site we made yet more design decisions on how to thread the cable through the grommets around the corner areas.  The details on these jobs are fun to figure out and refine.  How materials come together, fasten, secure and relate to one another has to be built to built to be truly optimized.  Cant do that sitting at a computer.  Often, I feel that its these little things that are super subtle that no one would seemingly ever notice MAKE good design.

I put an arch in the backside to add the lone non rectilinear element to the entire job.  Adds a touch of elegance and sophistication.

GLO apartments- Los Angeles part1

September 8th, 2009 by admin

Glo baby Glo!  Just finished installing these cabanas and bar at the Glo Apartments in downtown LA for Myhre Group Architects. Interior Designers Kayce Joyce and Heather McGrath came up with the overall concept for spicing up the pool area.  They specified new colorful daybed covers, pillows, tables, chairs, and approached me with their concept for the cabanas and bar area.  I come in to execute their concept by designing how it would be built, figuring out the details, and actually building it and getting it down there.

The beams and columns are hollow 6×6 teak box beams glued up out of 3/4″ material which fit over burly 24″ galvanized steel brackets I had fabricated by Kari Merkl. I built everything in Portland, took it apart, and trucked it down to LA and reassembled it on site.  At $18.50 a board foot (1″ x 12″ x 12″) teak is extremely expensive and scary to work with.  Its stunningly beautiful though and is unparalleled for outdoor durability.  It was a pleasure to work with such premium material!

The red curtains I had a fabricated by a company in Milwaukee called Twelve500 (strange name, good people).  They are hung across 3/16″ stainless steel cable stretched between the columns.  I installed stainless steel carabiners so people could harness the curtains, if they wish.

The fasteners are all 316 grade stainless steel.  I’m pleased with how they work with the design and show how the structure is put together.  It was actually quite complicated figuring out how the different beams and columns would come together and not reveal the metal brackets underneath.

The cabanas really transformed the pool area by defining space and creating an alternating rhythm with the odd number of divisions.  The bold colors worked well to create a fun feel and lighten up the pool area.  It was a pleasure working with Heather and Kayce on this project.  We have a good relationship of trust and flexibility- 2 crucial ingredients for work and life.

The install proved to be quite an adventure with missing boxes and damaged freight.  I had to scramble to re-purchase hardware and even rebuild some teak parts at my friend Fred Shriver’s shop in Santa Barbara. At the end of the day, excuses and obstacles dont really matter.  Bottom line= I got it done.  I enjoyed the challenge of working on such a difficult and risky project. Bring it on!

*photos by Ryan Purkey and Ken Tomita

Chaboo Artist Profile- David Bertman

December 15th, 2008 by admin

David Bertman is the second tallest designer in the room.  Thats what his facebook should read.  His work is known for being “tight”- like his jeans.

I met Dave at Show PDX 2006.  His stool for that show I felt was a great design.  Ive been bugging him ever since to trade it to me. The problem is, his mom wants it.  And my best design that I would trade him is in MY mom’s house…. sounds like world war III if we try to trade…

David aka Boom is a designer/builder with mad skills in wood and metal and an admitted obsession with rectangles.  What would happen if David and Buckminster Fuller (obsession with triangles) were in the same room?  Well never know… UNLESS we ask the actor from the show about Bucky at Portland Center Stage to come to the Project Chaboo show.  That would be quite the showdown.

photograph by Joe Mansfield

Notice the slots he cut at the corners of his chaboo.  They mirror the insert I have in my original bamboo chaboo.  Those blocks serve as a spline to hold the piece together- but since his frame is steel he doesnt need it.  Reversing course and removing material instead to pay homage to that little design feature of mine- brilliant!  I also like how the center serves as a handle, reversing direction from the original and having a rail to grab instead of a slot.  His piece is what I was looking for in this project- a good balance between his signature aesthetic and mine.

Hoffman loft, Yakuza interior

Click on the image to go to his portfolio online.  All I can say about his stuff is “SWEET!” and “Fing awesome”.  Sorry I dropped out of grad school before I learned the fancy pants vocab.  Check out his stuff yourself- youll see that my critique is spot on.

photo by Anna Campbell

David has started a new company with his business partner Matt- Bertman/Overkill Design and does mostly project management now.  Check out what hes been up to lately!

Sneakerheads beware.  One-off shoe and shoebox for Ladainian Tomlinson.

Winnebago conference room.  They literally sliced up a winnebago and blinged it out!

In closing I HAVE to squeeze this in and represent.  We both went to Catlin Gabel.  Go eagles!  And kudos to our woodshop teacher, Tom Tucker.

Featured Chaboo Artist- Kari Merkl

December 9th, 2008 by admin

photo by Joe Mansfield

Ive met Kari a few times at past ShowPDXs but I didnt recognize her this year because she wears geeky glasses now.  Kari through her company Merkled is basically the metal version of me.  She designs and builds custom metal furniture, architectural features, and also does a lot of fun side projects.

She has dabbled successfully in product design even getting one of her lamps into the MOMA store.  I originally approached her to get some advice in that field because I was looking to market the original chaboo design.  I also wanted some advice on designing/building a coat rack since she has already designed one.  She is always happy to help me with any metal related questons.  Thanks for your advice Kari!

Her Chaboo was a true collaboration between her and I.  She had a design in mind where I build half a chaboo and one leg would be metal.  i built my half especially strong because it was missing the spline at the mitred edge.  Yes, that square insert is not just decorative- it is a joint that holds the thing together.

photo by Anna Campbell

The clean lines of the powder coated steel are “totally her” for the lack of fancy architecture words to throw at you guys.  The original aim of this project was to collaborate with artists and combine our special skills and styles to form a new fusion type product.   This chaboo completes that criteria perfectly.

One warning about Kari: she appears to be a little shy and mild mannered but DO NOT misspell her last name!  Its Merkl not Merkle or Merkled!  The confusion of course starts from her company name of Merkled.  Merkl, Merkle, Merkled….. Ai ai ai.  At least I didnt introduce her as Kari Merkled at a major design competition with 450 people attending…. ehem

photo by Joe Mansfield

Chaboo Artist- Juno Lachman

November 20th, 2008 by admin

I had the chance to visit Project Chaboo participant Juno Lachman’s studio in SE Portland today.  His company, Juno Architectural Glass Inc.

specializes in the design and production of custom architectural glass for both interior and exterior applications in commercial, residential and public settings. We use a wide range of techniques such as sandblasting, sand carving, laminating, and cold working to create distinctive installations.

His studio was huge and very organized and clean.  I think that really shows a commitment to professionalism.   Juno showed me various glass equipment and samples of sandblasting that he has done.  Him and his assistant Sarah are working on a massive 8×24 ft outdoor glass panel which is made from a mosaic of 2″ x 2″ glass.  The overall design is of looking up into a bamboo grove!  Very fitting that he is working on a bamboo chaboo.  He showed me a few techniques he has for laminating glass and experimental stuff he has done with epoxy and glass rods.  He is going to sandblast the chaboo and also insert some glass.  Very cool.  Well see how bamboo sandblasts- my guess is that the nodes will resist and give it  a nice irregular feel.  Id like to collaborate with him someday and have him make me a custom glass top for a piece of furniture.

Juno and his assistant Sarah in the studio

Thanks for the tour Juno.  Im looking forward to seeing what you do with your chaboo!