Kim Schmahmann is a South African born award-winning architect and sculpture artist. His art pieces reflect human and social issues and conflicts. His work has become permanent displays at major museums such as the Museum of Art and Design in New York and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Mr. Schmahmann was kind enough to describe his approach and the role that form•Z plays in his design process.
“In my work, I create conceptual art in the form of fine art. Combining these creates a tension between the idea and the form, which I use to explore the tensions inherent in interactions between individuals and society, history and geography, classification and control.
In my pieces, such as the Bureau of Bureaucracy, Deconstructing Colonialism, and Apart-Hate: A People Divider, I use the language of furniture to highlight how everyday documents affect our lives. Specifically, by embedding a variety of documents, both personal and institutional,in each piece, I explore the various ways in which these documents shape how we live and work.
The goal of my artwork is to build pieces that have depth and grace and that will endure over time. To do this I strive to create subtle and complex visual expressions involving multiple layers, multiple materials, and multiple techniques. My work involves an iterative and interactive practice of imagining and manifesting the ideas and forms over time. I find that this emergent process of design and construction is critical to producing unique pieces, and it requires me to do all the work myself. So my pieces take a number of years as I move through the multiple and different activities of sketching, researching (via interviews and document search), designing, computer modeling (in graphic and 3D CAD tools such as form•Z ), building physical prototypes, constructing the cases (milling, joinery, veneering, assembly), fashioning the hardware (metalworking), generating and applying Marquetries, inlaying documents, and finishing the piece (French polishing).”
Describing how form•Z is embedded into this complex, artistic process, Schmahmann elaborates “I was introduced to form•Z in the late 1990s while creating full scale models for one of my pieces out of cardboard, wood and other materials. After completing the fourth full-scale model I knew I had to switch to computer design, simply because I had ran out of physical space for my models. I experimented with various 3D modeling programs and then found a book about form•Z at the MIT bookstore. I purchased the program out of curiosity and it has subsequently become my go-to program for any and all of my design, fabrication and presentation processes. When I design, I do not want to think about the software, I just want to design. form•Z allows me to do that. And not just that! My pieces go through many iterations and there is a continuous dialogue between me and the piece.
form•Z plays a major role in enabling my process to work. From the conceptual stage where I create a schematic idea to when I develop a full set of working drawings, form•Z allows me to explore and experiment with different aspects of the piece. This is very empowering and gives me license to push the envelope. During the ‘making’ stage, the design continues, so what I do is adjust the model in form•Z to match the real, physical object. In architectural jargon, I am literally creating an ‘As Built’ solid model. For example, before the piece, the Apart-Hate: A People Divider, was assembled physically from thousands of small parts, I was able to create the virtual, completed piece in form•Z. This allowed me to check and verify all the parts, views and angles that give this piece a detailed, powerful, 3-dimensional look. Without form•Z, none of this would have been possible.
“I am currently working on two pieces. The first — Labeling Selves — explores how the labels that are given to us and the labels we give ourselves define us, producing boundaries that give our lives meaning and identity but also limit our options and opportunities. The second — The Debt Spiral— examines the role and consequences of debt in society, drawing on the recent global financial meltdown that was precipitated by the escalating and interdependent dynamics of personal and institutional borrowing. Of course form•Z will be indispensable again to getting them done.”
We can’t wait to see the final results!
About Kim Schmahmann
After graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Natal, in Durban South Africa in 1982, Kim Schmahmann moved to the USA. He settled in the greater Boston area where he creates art pieces. You can see his art displayed at various museums in the USA. More details about his exhibitions and art can be found on his web site at www.kimschmahmann.com.