Original Engineering for Original Designs

Thursday, January 08, 2015

KYDEX® Thermoplastic in Museum of the Moving Image, Queens, New York.  Originally published by Surface&Panel Magazine Q4 2014.  Excerpted and published with permission.

Moore + Friesl, a Los Angeles-based firm, specializes in Original Design Engineering where they combine craftsmanship and care with the capabilities of modern materials and technology. To see the full article visit page seven of the digital magazine.

This project presented the Moore + Friesl team with several challenges. "We had to come up with triangular panels fastened to an ever-changing curved ceiling," says Nick Friesl. "The difficulty was that it was not just a triangular panel. There was a chamfer around it, so the outside is pretty thin, then it rises up by three inches and becomes flat again. There are 1137 unique panels that have to curve exactly to hug the shape of the rounded ceiling."

The digital engineering process gave the Moore + Friesl team information that allowed them to address big issues with precise material specifications. First, the team established what to use for the basic structure. Aluminum was chosen because it is lightweight and easy to manufacture.

Next, they addressed the design directive for the surface to carry sound-absorbing felt dyed to a specific color. "Most felt is matted, which disintegrates over time," says Nick Friesl. "We found a manufacturer in Denmark that produces woven felt, which is more integral and fire retardant. Something had to give the felt shape. We also needed a fire retardant plastic material. The answer was Kydex."

Based on the digital model, the team created MDF molds and vacuum formed the Kydex into the proper shape. The pieces were hand trimmed, assembled and riveted to the aluminum structure. "Most of the triangles had to be curved one way or another. With the exception of the straight panels, they all had different curves," says Nick Friesl. "Every one had a different address in the application. Every one had its own program. We worked day and night. But in the end, the project was a complete success, and we have forgotten all the hardship."