seattle design nerds inflate refractor, a mobile event space

seattle design nerds inflate refractor, a mobile event space

seattle design nerds inflate refractor, a mobile event space
(above) a nighttime pop-up of the ‘refractor’ on seattle’s waterfront
all images by trevor dysktra




recognizing that lesser used public spaces can be highlighted using programming, the ‘refractor’ as conceived by the seattle design nerd‘s, is an installation that could quickly bring a variety of activation to the public spaces of seattle. because activities happen on a temporary basis and at a moments notice they require a structure that can be delivered by hand and installed quickly. the inflatable structure expands into a 315sf circular room with a 16-feet tall ceiling that is transported in a 3ft x 2ft cart. capitalizing on the ad-hoc nature of the space, the inflatable was constructed from scavenged cardboard, painter’s plastic and space blankets cut into triangles to standardize the building blocks. each element serving a distinct programmatic purpose; cloudy plastic to diffuse light and provide glimpses of the interior, shiny mylar to reflect the exterior surroundings, and cardboard to provide a resilient walking surface that also served as a mural space for artist lina cholewinski. by using a malleable form and materials the refractor takes on the personality of each location or use thus integrating an otherwise foreign object.

the ‘refractor’ is a mobile event space, here it plays home to a performance from a dance troupe

the organic form and inflatable construction means the installation can pop-up virtually anywhere

translucent walls draw the public in

on this occasion, artist lina cholewinski created a lounge space with inflatable tubes and a cardboard floor mural

here the ‘refractor’ acts as an interactive lighting installation with color changing LED’s

installed near seattle’s famous ‘hat & boots’ public art

the ‘refractor’ installed near seattle’s famous ‘hat & boots’ public art

the installation serves as a space activator, drawing a crowd and illustrating potential uses of public space

the roof of the inflatable used as a projected display

a nighttime pop-up of the ‘refractor’ on seattle’s waterfront

closeup detail of the plastic and reflective mylar assembly



seattle design nerds team: trevor dykstra, letao tao, joy jin, michael fischer, chris wong, michelle gagnon-creeley, alaina hamel, michelle li, vicki ha, tegan firth, benjamin rishel, marta kapoyos floor mural: lina cholewinski



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: juliana neira | designboom

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