Friday, May 9th, 2014
Images courtesy of Asteriskos
Fast, good, and cheap—excellent design means that we’re supposed to pick only two of these. But pose that dilemma to Mikhail Gladchenko and Keegan Quick of Phoenix design and fabrication studio Asteriskos, and they’d probably ask why you’d ever make a choice.
“Something custom should not be more expensive,” Gladchenko says. It’s a bold boast by a pair of tech-obsessed Southern California Institute of Architecture grads, but they’ve already built up an impressive track record of finding smart solutions with computational modeling.
One of the first projects that the duo took on after arriving in Phoenix in 2012 was building a stage set for the Brooklyn band Yeasayer—a web of fractals that mirrored the group’s psychedelic synth rock. Brought into the fold with only a month to finish, Quick and Gladchenko had the equivalent of napkin sketches to work with before a fabricated stage was setto debut on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in New York.
The duo utilized computational and algorithmic design to deliver something fast and flexible. They fabricated shapes and hinges—inspired by the top of a Tic Tac box—out of a cheap, durable, and lightweight industrial thermoplastic, creating a modular system that was ideal for film projection. Saving thousands on shipping didn’t hurt either. Collaborating with designers Casey Reas, Chris Lash, and the band serves as an example of exactly how the Asteriskos guys like to work.
“The collaborative process brought forth innovative results that wouldn’t have happened if we did it alone,” Quick says. “We look to create that unique atmosphere.”
For the firm, Asteriskos (Greek for asterisk) represents the “notion of the infinite” and working on the edges where architecture, art, design, construction, and fabrication intersect. Moving to Phoenix offered the chance to experiment and build a community in a city without a more established design scene. One of their latest jobs, creating bus stops for their chosen metropolis, exemplifies the process and projects that they want to pursue. Each station, made out of the type of plastic used in playground material, is not only cheaper, lighter, and more graffiti-proof than its metal predecessor, but it’s also customized via solar analysis to maximize shade based on its location.
“We’re not governed by a formal agenda,” Quick says. “That allows for infinite types of formal or aesthetic solutions. We’re a bit like a branding firm in that way— we’re able to be flexible.”