When solid surface was introduced to the world 50 years ago by DuPont, it was promoted for use in residential applications, such as countertops. However, over the years, creative architects and designers have fallen in love with the flexibility of the material and solid surface has found its way into public art and sculpture. Because solid surface can be machined, thermoformed, or printed on, solid surface has unlimited possibilities in the hands of skilled and creative fabricators. Not to mention for building and facility owners, solid surface is extremely durable and easy to maintain, which means the art will go contributing to the environment in a positive way for years to come. Here are just two examples of artists using solid surface for you to get inspired by.
Solar Hour Benches at The Exploratorium in San Francisco
Designed by Artist Rebecca Cummins, The Solar Hour Benches are a set of six oval benches, each with a slit aperture aligned with the sun for one particular hour: 10 a.m., 11 a.m., Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. solar time. Throughout the year, for only twenty minutes before and after the corresponding hour, sunlight travels through the aperture and projects onto inscriptions on the ground.
The project utilized standard solid surface fabrication techniques to make the bench bodies but then Omega utilized their skills in color in-lays to machine in the "handwritten" notes on the surface. Due to the fine print on the solid surface, instead of CNC machining, the lettering and graphics were all done with laser cutting and filled in with black or orange resin to make a smooth surface.
University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital "Totems"
In 2016, Omega worked with Larry Kirkland Studio on several pieces of the new University of Iowa Children's Hospital. Omega and Larry were already quite familiar with one another, having collaborated on the award-winning Randall Children's Hospital with Larry's "Alphabet Birds"in 2012.
For the University of Iowa Children's Hospital project, again, it was a creative combination of Corian solid surface, CNC machining and resin in-lays to create a towering stack of children's toy blocks. Additionally, the blocks were fabricated so that a mechanical weather vane system would be integrated through center. Art and solid surface go hand-in-hand in healthcare due to the natural hygienic properties of the material.
Again, solid surface is a great medium for artists to explore when creating large-scale public works display. It's relatively easy to work with, can be crafted to many different forms and it's durable. Let us know if you have any ideas for your next project that we can help out with!