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Mobius: Design by Evolution

I’ve always been intrigued by mathematics and especially a branch of mathematics called topology. The Mobius pendant is named after one of topology’s early theorists, August Ferdinand Möbius, and the famous Möbius strip he discovered. The story of the pendant’s design did not, however, start here.

It began with a series of investigations of forms using paper models of different shapes that might become sculptural shades. I had specifically been looking to design fixtures using shade material in a way we had not tried yet, with the goal of coming up with a shade that could be shipped flat or rolled up, so as to make for more efficient packaging.

Another part of my strategy was designing the fixture to provide the structure for the shade material that would have been supplied by a wire frame in a more conventional shade. A distinctive and durable material was found through a company in Spain that makes decorative fabrics, papers and other materials for the lighting industry.

The Kirigami pendants were the first designs in this “flat shade” vein. When folded, the shades have the shape of round flower or leaf petals with two, three, or four “lobes”. While playing with the three-lobed shapes, I stumbled upon the twisted form of the Mobius shade (see above for some early drawings and a paper model). I had wanted something that approximated the conic shape of a traditional shade, but with a unique twist. It ended up as a butterfly-shaped panel that, when folded, forms two half shades connected through the middle below the bulb. Because this shape has an inside surface on one half that is also an outside surface on the other half, we decided on the name Mobius because of similar properties of topological shapes such as the Möbius strip.

What was perhaps even more interesting was what the skilled artisans in our prototype department did in creating a forged steel version of my paper model. When I first showed the idea to them, no one was sure it was possible. But one thing I know about the prototype department is that they enjoy a challenge! Even as the tooling was being developed, there were still serious doubts that we would ever reach our goal. But, with great perseverance and an equal amount of creative thinking we eventually solved the puzzle and made what is the Mobius kitchen pendant.

Click Here for more on the tooling process and a video of a Mobius pendant being made.


David Martin

About David Martin

David Martin is new to the art of blogging. David has been designing award-winning products for Hubbardton Forge since 2006, when founder George Chandler brought him on as member of the design team. Previously, he worked for 14 years as an architectural designer in Vermont and New York. He has a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Syracuse University. In his free time he enjoys making art with found objects, and he has been a member of the Brandon (VT) Artist's Guild since 2000.

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