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InFlate DeFlate

Spring 2018 | Professor Josh Bard
Partnership with Rachel Muse, Gargi Lagvankar, and Stephanie Smid

This project explores the medium of plaster and the concept of illusion, by creating a module that has the appearance of inflating and deflating like a weightless balloon. I learned a lot during this project and expanded my fabrication skills. Taking our complex shapes out of the digital world and in to the physical was a unique challenge that my team and I had to work hard to overcome. 

I created the Grasshopper script and helped with the design, fabrication, and the structure drawings. 

Module Design

The module came from exploring tensioned string. We were able to create a piece that appeared curved but was complete make from straight lines. Each iteration we made we created physical and digital models to understand and expand on the shape. Our final module was created in grasshopper and allowed for corner connections between pieces.

Joint Rotation

Joint Scale

Corner Edge Width

Inflation and Deflation


Grasshopper Code

Modular Face Options


The process of finding a perfect fabrication method was one of trial and error. We tried rubber, foam, and plaster molds but none created the results we needed. We finally discovered that vacuum forming CNCed MDF to create 2-part molds was not only the fastest and cheapest mold making process but that it also gave us the best results.

After casting, each piece had to be chiseled and sanded to remove blemishes. We used plaster to attach the faces and cast a plastic straw into each corner; this allowed us to easily slide steel pipe into the cubes to create the structure that holds the modules together.

MDF and Vacuumformed molds 

Plaster Casting Mold Set Up

Creation Time Lapse


Inspired by renaissance domes and Islamic muqarnas we set out to create a form with our modules that would seem structurally impossible by first glance. We achieved this by suspending one of our cubes, allowing it to float above the other cubes. We did this through our hidden internal structure.  

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System Expansion 

Our module leaves room for expansion in many different forms. Repeating at its current 10-inch scale allows for walls and masses to be erected with unique apertures that change shape with a viewer’s position. At a massive scale the can become inhabitable. The curved geometry creates large arches and domes for people to experience.  

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