Grant Diffendaffer Design


In my stories about the Capitol Theater, I mentioned the theater-seat end-caps that I designed and which were fabricated from laser cut steel. The mobile deco theater, which was inspired by the great movie palaces of the 1920’s, reflects many of the design choices made by architects of the great Fox Theater chain. Some of these imaginative masterpieces have been restored today to their former glory. Deco was a diverse and sometimes contradictory mix of influences and could be seen to incorporate both sparse modern geometry and lavish ornamental tradition sometimes lifted directly from Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and South Asian cultures. Prime examples of the latter are the Fox Oakland, and The Fox Atlanta. A full and honest critique of these design choices would have to take into account the arguments of Orientalism, and cultural colonialism. Is this just culture candy? What is the difference between an homage and a rip-off? Considering these choices and responsibilities with respect to the Capitol Theater was an interesting personal journey, and it was important to me to stay on the side of homage. I think that is the intention of the Capitol Theater generally, as a playful through-the-looking-glass view back at these historical treasures.

My original inspiration for the end-caps was from the Fox Theater in Spokane, another masterpiece of the era which eschewed fetischization of foreign cultural influences to a degree (not entirely) for a blend of natural (ocean) imagery and strict geometric forms.

Here is a shot of the Spokane Fox Theater seat end-cap:

Spokane Fox Theater seats

While the Capitol Theater features a facade that is largely streamline and geometric, the interior is inspired in many ways by Indian architecture and culture, in particular the scalloped arches found throughout Mughal design across Northern India. This theater’s proscenium arch can be seen in the Red Fort in Delhi for example. I was lucky to pick up this project from Clif Florio, who gave me the idea of a sun, moon, and stars theme. I added to that the arch curves, which the Capitol Theater features in several places, most prominently in the proscenium arch. In addition to layering them at the bottom of my design, I also carried them into the rooflines of the moon chair and the parapets of the sun chair–both ways in which the curve appears in traditional architecture. I’ve always been inspired by the desert, and in addition to having traveled the deserts of Rajasthan in Northern India, I am a lover of the desert of Southern Utah. The star chair includes the iconic profile of Factory Butte in the San Rafael Desert of Southern Utah.

Capitol Theater Seat End-Caps. Design by Grant Diffendaffer. Capitol Theater by Five Ton Crane

Capitol Theater. By Five Ton Crane. Theater seat end-cap design by Grant Diffendaffer. Photo Copyright Grant Diffendaffer

 

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I’ve been too busy doing and making to write much this last year but I’ve got to tell you to come on down to the original Maker Faire this weekend at the San Mateo Fairgrounds where you can hear all about it in person. I’m back with Steadcraft and eager to show you all of my latest creations. I’m busy in the studio right now putting last minute finishing touches on a collection of creations. Come see how my craft has taken a digital turn–with familiar handcraft like metal work and embroidery having found their way out of history–through circuitry melded with creativity.

I’ll be showing my latest machine creation–a P3Steel. Whut’s that you say? It is an open source 3D printer–a derivative of the most famous such design, a Prusa I3. Come find out why I thought it was worth my time to go down this particular kit rabbit-hole (Mostly it is a Spanish thing).

The main reason I haven’t been posting here (besides being busy building aforementioned metal beast), is that I have been heavily occupied by my new job (since September 2016) working as a Mechanician in the Digital Fabrication Lab (DFL) at the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. There, we assist students in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning with the creation of models–an essential part of their process. What is digital about that? While students have been drawing with computers for quite some time, the fabrication side of things has taken a little longer to catch up. Now though, instead of primarily focusing on manually cutting and gluing everything, students also use computerized machinery. The lab has half a dozen laser cutters, 8 3D printers, a CNC router (with tool changer), a CNC mill and a Zund.

The latest addition in the DFL is a desktop 3D scanner. I have recently picked up a Sony A7 ii (full frame digital camera)–with the purpose of upping my photogrammetry game. Come on down to the DFL (sign up first) May 30th, 31st, and June 1st and I’ll teach you everything I know about reality capture and 3D printing.

What else has happened in the last year…let’s see… In my life, I have also done a short creative stint with the Mythbusters production team as they reboot the series after the great Adam and Jamie moved on to other things.

I got to go to Mexico this winter where the best three hours I spent were in the National Museum of Anthropology. Besides being an overwhelming presentation of incredible ancient monumental (and personal ornamental) artworks, representative of fantastically developed long lost civilizations, it is probably the best place I have ever been for photogramettry. I could have stayed there for days on end.

I don’t have enough fancy tools in my life so I bought into a huge and powerful laser cutter.

I witnessed the kinetic creations of the otherworldly famous Kinetic Sculpture Grand Challenge.

I delved into 3D stop motion filmaking (my secret dream job).

I spent months trying to build a complete photogrammetry model of the Storied Haven. Part of the work that I do with 5 Ton Crane, this site installation is headed to the Hermitage Museum in Virginia. One of our previous projects, the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, was just installed outside the Wings over the Rockies Museum in Denver. We also made permanent installations of our Oakland Squared project in the Latham Square Building in downtown Oakland and the Moffett Library at U.C. Berkeley.

I managed not to get washed off the hillside in this winter’s epic rains.

And now I am digging into an upcoming exhibition at the Legion of Honor Museum.

Oh, also, I’m teaching a workshop on Photogrammetry, 3D Scanning and 3D printing. May 30th, 31st, and June 1st. Spaces still available!

Steadcraft.com is down for the moment for repair, so stay tuned here for everything me, and come find me by the big door in the Expo Hall (Zone 2 by CCA) and I’ll tell you all about it in person!

 

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This map should help. We are in Zone 2, all the way at the corner of the building, kitty corner to the California College of the Arts area. On this map it is marked as the “Make Electronics” area.

mf16_map

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I am furiously preparing for Maker Faire, where I load in just three short days from now. I have a pile of freshly minted Steadcraft earrings for sale and will be exhibiting a range of work. Come see classic necklaces from my book, Polymer Clay Beads, Steadcraft prototypes of embroidered cuffs and mixed-media broaches as well as demonstrations of our latest processes.

See my Printrbot in action, check out sculptural 3D prints from reality capture via the forthcoming Autodesk ReMake, watch my embroidery machine sew 600 stitches per minute, ask me “what the heck is metal clay?”or just stop by to chat with me about the state of affairs in the maker world. I’ve got lots to say about the Peachy Printer debacle, if you have been following that. Or, we can just jam about all the positive things that are happening to bring together hand-craft with digital fabrication.

If you haven’t planned to attend Maker Faire yet, get tickets! It is May 20th-22nd and is the largest and longest running multi maker mashup in el mundo!

MF16_BA_500x650

 

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This is not a Kickstarter! This is an old-fashioned Grand Opening Sale! I have decided that for now the best crowdfunding for this business is organic growth. Save 25% at our online store from now until May 27th. Just use the code “grand opening” at checkout and get free shipping too!

Purchasing our vintage-inspired jewelry is both a great way to get your style on and is also a huge support for small business. With your patronage, we will be able to support continued production and development of our line. On our website, you will find a large selection of earrings in copper, bronze, and fine-silver. Stock is limited but we will be taking back-orders, which will take about 2 weeks to fulfill.

We will be investing our profit right back into the business and look forward to bringing you an expanded selection of men’s and women’s jewelry and accessories. Come find us at Maker Faire, May 20th-22nd, and as always, at steadcraft.com

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If you haven’t seen it lately, check out my Portfolio, which I’ve given a little face-lift to.  Here is a quick look at a few of my favorites from over the years:

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