The mission of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) – an academic-industry-tech partnership at the University of Washington – emphasizes “frugal innovation” in which common materials and products are engaged through an iterative process, combining analog and digital techniques in unexpected ways. This mission inspired the design, materiality, and fabrication of signage and wayfinding throughout the building.
At the entry, a large installation features felt strips inserted into the metal peg board used throughout the project for tool storage. Room naming and donor recognition continue this reoccurring theme of “slots and dots,” with abstract supergraphics providing wayfinding landmarks for students and visitors.
A plywood Screen Wall serves as a partition between the building’s living room and main event space. Sitting across from the interactive “Network Wall,” it exemplifies the juxtaposition of physical and virtual craft that pervades students’ academic experiences.
Designers and fabricators collaborated closely to design and build the Screen Wall, using the same tools and materials GIX students employ. The repeating reticular structure is based on the intersecting planes that form GIX’s logo. Using 3D modeling software, our team generated laser-cut test models to explore several design options. Due to the model’s precision, the final structure required no glue or fasteners and was entirely friction-fit, significantly reducing installation time and cost. The result is a functional installation and beautiful object that students could make themselves, demonstrating the communication and engineering efficiencies of a seamless digital-to-physical design and fabrication process.