Monday, November 24, 2008


With the help of Bernard and Danielle, many long minutes of sweat equity and testing go into every seating area to make sure things fit and flow.

Assemblage, assembly...

After a bit of fidgeting, fussing, and gentle persuasion a seating arrangement takes shape.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The sum of a lot of parts...

Starting with 230 board feet of mahogany, we produced 40 legs, 20 armrest, 16 circle laminations averaging 7 feet in diameter.  We cut 720 Domino mortices and 200 people hours into the project we are ready for assembly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bend it like Baudrillard...

Lots of cutting of  1/4" x 1" x 120" mahogany strips to stack laminate the curved seat. 427 strips to be exact. Student fingers turned  black but never bloody. The black happens when the acids from ones hands react with the tannins in the wood

Check your head with your drawing

We are continuously checking the original layout versus the full scale mock-up versus common sense. So far the "tools of ignorance" have worked in our favor. 

Break it down...

Breaking down material  =  lots of little piles of wood.

Student members of the MIT Hobby shop volunteer through out the 08' Summer to work on the Intellectuals Circle. Many of them are new to woodworking and are eager to learn a new skill and the process involved in designing and building a piece of furniture for the public.

If you build it...

Mid May, 2008
With a generous grant from the MIT Council for the Arts, a helpful discount from local lumber sellers Anderson and McQuaid, along with the help of Mike Servant at Festool, work on the Intellectuals Circle begins.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Intellectuals Circle

 The Intellectuals Circle is a seating arrangement that promotes a non-linear outlet for intellectual discussion. There are four sections of four opposing seats. The circular footprint is 12 feet in diameter.  Participants sit opposing one another around the circular structure, overlapping slightly at the shoulder. The idea behind this type of seating arrangement is to encourage clear, verbal communication without visual cues or theatrics between the participants. The Intellectuals Circle will be placed around public spaces at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus throughout the course of a year. 

Jean Baudrillard, a french cultural theorist, once replied; "There are no more French intellectuals. What you call French intellectualism has been destroyed by the media. They talk on television, they talk to the press, they no longer talk among themselves."
This is in response to a question about the state of French intellectualism which easily applies to the United States as well. With the phenomena of websites like You Tube, and the culture industry of the American media, there is an overwhelming abundance of  monologue culture void of a dialogical outlet.

The Intellectuals Circle seating structure is based on the reverse thinking of an 18th Century prison design by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham's,  Penopticon.
"The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan) prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience" (Wikipedia)
Instead of using a centralized theme of observation as a means of control, the Intellectuals Circle allows participants to converse freely on the periphery, without direct visual contact with the person closest to them. There is no center at all, only four ways in which to enter, sit and exit at will.