Volta System



Honorable Mention
2015 VMODERN Furniture Design Competition

Jtravis Russett
United States

A volta, or turn, is a sudden change in thought, direction, or emotion

In nature
The path to harmony is married to nature. This is a consistent consideration throughout the development of each of my projects. Conceiving Volta, I focused on the difference in perception between the cognitive aspects, such as a source code for a tree, and the non-cognitive experiences engendered via an indeterminate and varying aesthetic of nature. We find in nature, the components are quite familiar yet the articulation of wholes eternally unique (an important aspect of beauty must be locked within the infinite diversity of familiarity). Enduringly, we are thus promised an authentic experience when engaging nature.

In machines
The nature of production machines is simplification: reducing variables increases productivity whilst reducing cost. The components and the articulations are perfectly repeated. As such, I believe by perfecting machines, we incidentally strip variation from our living environments. This endeavor promotes predictability, thus artificiality, the antithesis of nature and when at scale, fleeting beauty at best. In our invention of machines, we conceptualized a tamed wild, thought of as the path to harmony, yet accomplish something unrelenting and stale. In the future, I imagine we will design wild, or adaptive, machines.

Andy Warhol
The silk-screen method is a simple machine in execution. Imperfections or differences in the resultant prints imbue a sense of life.

A method, projective perception
I designed perspective to camouflage form and arouse curiosity. Two-dimensional textures projected onto the form generate thickness, a allusive form to negative volume. Perception of thickness is dynamically intrinsic to point of view and form is perceived when in motion (which is to say, a sort of dance is encouraged) through contradictions in texture in addition to light and shadow. The visual layering of form, perspective and thickness promotes a perception of differentiation which seemingly outpaces the limited set of components [primarily four], or optimized machine production.

In Volta
I sought to express an aesthetic in balance of repetition, or machine, and shifting perspective, or the multivalent quality of nature by skewing the product of machines towards the aesthetic characteristics of handmade methods.

Design and construction
The design is a synthesis of advanced digital design and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) technologies with analogue wood lamination and bending processes. Four unique pieces, two fins and two panels, are sequentially repeated to compose the whole. The number of possible repetitions is unlimited. Each finish surface pattern and shelf notches are routed with a Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) mill. The wood sheets are laminated between a high-density foam positive and negative formwork, also milled. Finally the pieces are stained, grain expressive, and the routed zones painted, grain concealing. The pieces are assembled along parallel rails. The shelves, finished in polished chrome (reflective), are set between fins, alternating between two gap heights (tall book and short book), as the final assembly is locked into place along the rails. Finally, programmable Light Emitting Diodes (LED) is hidden between the panels and fins.