During Reinvention’s first day of sessions in New Orleans, 2010 Rising Star Leadership Award-winning firm Min|Daypresented the breakout titled “Bridging Design and Construction: A New Paradigm in Practice.”
Jeffrey L. Day, AIA, and E.B. Min, AIA, showed several examples of their object design—architectural elements, furniture, and casework—for larger projects as well as stand-alone pieces, all created using CNC digital fabrication methods. They discussed the various ways they employ digital imaging and fabrication technology for CNC machines to produce unique and complex surfaces, patterns, dimensions, textures, and shapes in a broad range of materials.
Along with a beautiful and technically complex ripple-relief room divider of stacked Baltic birch that serves as a headboard from one side and a chest of drawers from the other, Min and Day highlighted their low-tech but highly graphic “Spirits” pavilion at the San Francisco 2008 Slow Food Nation Festival, which incorporated colored strips to reference fields of various grains and a canopy of paper parasols to reference cocktail umbrellas. One apartment project they exhibited included panels CNC-routed in an abstract grass motif used as balcony railings and backlit wall inserts. For another project, Min and Day digitized patterns inspired by San Francisco’s drifting clouds and fog for a series of sliding doors perforated at multiple depths with simple holes, as well as wallpaper using the same patterns.
Explaining their process, Min and Day emphasized the importance of understanding how CNC routing machinery works and the time required for performing various functions as the keys to optimizing the machines’ capabilities and successfully executing objects.
For much of its work, Min|Day draws on the research conducted by its allied practice, the Fabrication And Construction Team (F.A.C.T.), which Day runs as a design lab for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s architecture program. Students working in the design lab act as research assistants for the firm and also perform pro bono and very-low-cost work for nonprofit organizations. Min and Day design products and the students take them through development, sometimes working with fabricators to produce the designs. Through FACT, the partners explained, students gain the skills to communicate effectively with fabricators, which they may find useful when they become practicing architects.