Illusions at the AIA Convention

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Friday, May 1, 2009
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Another strange day at the AIA Convention in San Francisco. And perhaps the weirdest place of all is the Expo floor, where you can examine products ranging from stainless steel bathroom stalls to impact resistant drywall to powder coatings for steel systems (actually not a bad idea). But perhaps the strangest, and perhaps most intriguing product award goes to a company called Sky Factory, which manufactures “virtual windows” and “sky ceilings” which create the illusion that you have a beautiful waterfall or an ocean view outside your building. It’s pretty simple: Printed images are sandwiched between acrylic panels and backlit with daylight-balanced illumination. The image catalogue includes “sunsets and sunrises,” “trees and forests,” “flowers and fields,” “mountains,” and “deserts” and moves to more bizarre backgrounds like “deep space” and “underwater.” And the company offers a brand new product, called SkyV, in which moving HD videos are projected from the sky, to create an even more realistic effect. Yes, we are no longer living in reality. Instead, we can turn on the wall and see whatever we want outside.

More strange but true architectural gems from the show:

•Lego Play For Business: Lego’s consulting arm which has worked with companies like Microsoft and RBS, using lego bricks to improve teamwork, project management, problem solving, creativity, and managing complexity.

•Crystal Sensations: 3D crystal engravings formed through laser etching. The etchings are drawn directly from CAD files and created by making tiny cuts within a large crystal.

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