Captive Exhibition

The Captive (or ‘unfinished’) figures of Michelangelo are the primary inspiration for the series by Brian Richer. Richer, the Creative Director at Castor Design is also a trained stone carver. He has worked on many architecturally significant buildings in North America, and has explored captives for years.

The Captive sculptures are simple Platonic forms, hand-carved with a mallet and chisel – no power tools were used in their carving. Unlike most sculptors—who built a model and then marked up their block of marble to know where to carve—Michelangelo always worked freehand. He saw the sculptor’s job was to reveal the work that already existed within the stone. In these figures one can still see the grooves from the chisel, the process of the work, revealing the hand of the sculptor.

The finished collection is one that presents simple classic forms: a stool, side table, and a bowl emerging from rough blocks of Indiana Limestone partially consumed by the natural material. The result is both recognizable and venerable at once.

“Liberace x Flavin” – AZ Awards 2016

The “Liberace x Flavin” installation is a music and light performance for Azure Magazine’s 2016 AZ Awards. Hundreds of fluorescent tubes between six and ten feet tall are set up around a grand piano, lit wirelessly through induction in the same vein as a Tesla coil. The light sculpture is sound-sensitive; its mass of fluorescent tubes activate based on a concert pianist’s performance. Each note adjusts the brightness of the sculpture’s bulbs.

Pianist: Amy Seulky Lee.
Photography: Peter Lusztyk.
Videography: Peter Lusztyk, Chris Clifford.

Particle Accelerator

​“Nature Abhors a Vacuum”

Despite our growing familiarity with particle accelerators like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, for most of us the idea of a particle accelerator is still abstract. Castor Design have produced their take on the particle accelerator in an effort to make the science behind the concept more approachable.

The Castor Design particle accelerator is based on research by physicist JJ Thomson at Cambridge in 1897. Thomson is credited with discovering the electron while passing a cathode ray between two electrodes in a glass vacuum tube. Castor’s particle accelerator operates in the same way.

With consideration given to the accelerator’s design, its hand-blown glass tube with machined electrodes is displayed on top of a black marble base with an overhanging shade. Its transformer and vacuum are presented alongside, housed in custom component boxes.

When electrical current is activated and a enough of a vacuum has been formed within the tube in order for electrons to travel without striking a molecule of gas, low­-mass particles accelerate to 30% of the speed of light, which strike other atoms and give off light as they settle.

The arced plasma light quickly stabilizes and “flows” in a straight line across the centre of the tube. As gas molecules undergo more collisions, emission wavelengths appear separated out into plasma bands, demonstrating the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. More columns indicate that the electrons’ energy in a given state is less defined. When the vacuum dissipates, the plasma reaches its extinction point and scatters.

CU Exhibition

CU is part of Toronto Design Week and is an exploration into the properties of copper. The show is part of a larger event put on by Endless City and is located at 1161 Dundas St. W. Toronto. Programming ranges from talks on the state of design infrastructure in Canada, video installations, an OCAD student competition, and a dinner with edible copper on the menu.

Copper has been in use for 10,000 years, yet over 97% of the mineral mined had already been extracted from the earth by 1910; as such, any new use of copper in product, art, architecture and industry has been the result of perpetual recycling. The metal has become an overused material in design over the past few years, a trend that continues to gain momentum. The CU exhibition takes a different approach. Through a process called electroforming, Castor has utilized old pieces of copper pipe and dissolved them in order to grow metal onto organic, non-metallic materials in a charged bath. The work is based in science as much as in design, using Faraday’s Law (the relationship between the weight, electrical current, and time) to create something entirely new. The process of electroplating gives each piece a unique texture and a painterly quality; dendritic crystallization is controlled through change in electrical current. Alongside scientific processes, Castor used various forms of manufacturing – from glass blowing, stone carving, 3D printing, and laser cutting. Science is cool.

The Room at Hudson’s Bay

Castor Design were part of the Hudson Bay Company‘s installation for the Spring 2016 display at The Room, a fashion window display operating in Toronto since 1937. Six coloured gels were applied to over 115 florescent bulbs, which were used to create the sculptures, lit through induction.

Marble Slabs

Materials: Carrera Marble, Oak
Hand-carved letters in marble.

Pi is Exactly 3
Historically there have been numerous attempts to square a circle, including an attempt in 1894 to pass legislation in the United States that would definitively and erroneously signify Pi as exactly 3.

Schrödinger’s Cat is Dead
Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment, sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. The scenario presents a cat which may be simultaneously both alive and dead, as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.

Hail Double Knob Children of Mars
In an attempt to share his controversial findings with colleagues while shielding them from the authorities, Galileo developed a code of anagrams. This was sent to Kepler in confidence, unfortunately Kepler was unable to decode the message correctly and created this garbled text.

Candy Table for “Dinner by Design” – TODO 2015

Castor Design have made a dining table and a pair of benches out of hard candy. Two inches thick, the treatment resembles a glass-top dining table. The set was made during the 2015 Toronto Design Offsite week for the Dinner by Design charity event hosted by GE Monogram and the Toronto Design Exchange, the proceeds going toward Toronto’s Casey House.

Responding to the theme of the event, at the intersection of dinner and design is an edible table. Following this line of logic, Castor Design made the table top out of hard candy, pouring a 150°C/300°F mixture of sugar, water, syrup, and colouring into a mould on top of an 8’ x 3’ powder-coated steel frame. The hard candy is meant to be used, so after pouring it is left to cool and solidify and then finished with a lacquer spray. Prior to its finishing the table would be edible, having a maple flavour.

The dining set was made at Parts & Labour’s catering kitchen where Castor Design’s principals Brian Richer and Kei Ng are part owners. The table was formed in three separate 60L pours, each with a slightly different shade of red, which results in a marbled texture in the candy. Lit from underneath, the table has molten look that is amplified by the back bench’s slow decline to the floor. Glass tableware is set up to catch the light coming through the table.

The table is installed at the Design Exchange from January 19-25th 2015.

For those interested in making a set at home, the recipe is as follows:

Table
120kg sugar
60kg water
30kg syrup
Food colouring as desired

Bench (x1)
40kg sugar
20kg water
10kg syrup
Food colouring as desired

White Room for “DX Rise Up”

For their “Rise Up” annual fundraiser gala, Castor wrapped a 3,000 square foot room at the Design Exchange and the furniture inside in heat-shrink wrap designed to protect boats during the winter.

Calcium Oxide

The four geometric sculptures, hand carved out of limestone, are changed on a molecular level. This is due to the thermal decomposition of limestone (CaCO3) in a lime kiln. What appear as objects slowly decomposing is accomplished by heating the material to above 825 °C, a process called calcination. This process drives off the carbon dioxide (CO2); leaving quicklime. The quicklime (CaO) is not stable and, when cooled, will spontaneously react with CO2 from the air until, after enough time, it will be completely converted back to calcium carbonate unless slaked with water to set as lime plaster or lime mortar. This process is called the Lime Cycle. Further exploration of this series converting hand carved tracery window from St. Michael’s Cathedral into calcium oxide and making plaster combined with finely grounded marble dust mixed with water used as a medium to paint. By changing the forms completely from the original pieces of work into flat two dimensional wall pieces.

Captive Munny for “This Is Not A Toy” Exhibition

CAPTIVE MUNNY
Design Exchange (Toronto)
Materials: Carrera Marble

This was part of a show called This is Not a Toy ­ co-curated by Pharrell Williams. A number of artist were given Munny Dolls and asked to do an intervention. The inspiration for this Munny was Michelangelos captives. The Munny was carved in Carrera marble, using hand tools and a pointing machine;­ a tool for duplicating models.

Marble with Fluorescent Tube (Black Marble)

A closer examination of the sculpture reveals that the bulb is emitting light although the pins through which a fluorescent bulb normally receives current remain unconnected, and the tube appears to be unpowered. This effect is achieved through the wireless transmission of electricity. The marble base houses a circuit that safely stores an electric current within a magnetic field, which is then transferred into the fluorescent bulb. While being displayed, the bulb sits in a channel carved into the sculptures marble base. It will continue to emit light if lifted several inches away.

Black Metal Collection at Klaus by Nienkamper

Castor’s Black Metal Collection is inspired by the line from Spinal Tap “There’s something about this that’s so black, it’s like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.” Nigel Tufnel was commenting on their new black record cover and clearly making a statement about design in general- black is absolute. See an article featuring the entire collection on Design-Milk and shop at the Castor Online store.

In 2013, Castor exhibited its Black Metal Collection at Toronto furniture and lighting retailer Klaus. The Induction Tube Light, the Conic Section Light, the Black Mirrors, and the Tank Bowls were all on display in-store and available for purchase.

Marble with Fluorescent Tube (Large)

A closer examination of the sculpture reveals that the bulb is emitting light although the pins through which a fluorescent bulb normally receives current remain unconnected, and the tube appears to be unpowered. This effect is achieved through the wireless transmission of electricity. The marble base houses a circuit that safely stores an electric current within a magnetic field, which is then transferred into the fluorescent bulb. While being displayed, the bulb sits in a channel carved into the sculptures marble base. It will continue to emit light if lifted several inches away.

Crystal Chandelier – TIFF 2012

TIFF Bell Lightbox (Toronto)
Materials : Brass Chandeliers, copper sulphate, plaster

Each chandelier was wrapped in plaster gauze and submerged in copper sulphate until crystals formed. An accompanying video was also made showing the formation of crystals under a microscope.

NAFTA: 3 Countries/ 2 Borders – San Diego Art Fair 2011

Castor was asked to participate in San Diego Art fair as part of the NAFTA 3 Countries/2 Borders Show. Castor deconstructed products and packed them in bubble packaging. One was called Canadian Clichés- with stubby beer bottle, hockey trophy, and a beaver gnawed log.

Power Ball 2011

Castor was asked to participate in the Power Plant’s annual fundraiser. Two thousand feet of electroluminescent (EL) wire was strung around the room. Artist Jeremy Jansen showed his video on a bank of television screens.

Pope Joan Chair – Toronto IDS 2011

Pope Joan is a legendary female Pope who supposedly reigned for a few years some time thought to be between 853–855 AD. The story first appeared in the writings of 13th-century chroniclers, and subsequently spread through Europe. To understand why there’s a hole in the seat of the chair, we recommend you read about Pope Joan here.

Bubble Room “Next Lounge” – Art Toronto 2009

Castor was asked to be design a room to feature artwork during Toronto Art Fair. The Bubble House was created with bubble wrap including the floor. Visitors were encouraged to break the bubbles. Castor also designed and built a bubble wrap-breaking machine.

Winnebago – Toronto IDS 2009

Castor was selected as feature designers for the Interior Design Show in Toronto. A ’75 Winnebago Indian was renovated into a lounge with wood burning stove, Castor furniture, a vintage record player, and a working kitchen. After the show it was used as a private dining area at Castor’s restaurant Oddfellows.

Beton Brut – Toronto IDS 2008

One of 10 Innovative Canadian Designers featured at the Interior Design Show. We installed a rough cast concrete fishing hut with stainglass windows, bulb chandelier and wood stove. The hut was an environment to showcase a new chandelier made from drilled-out light bulbs and the Blind Stool. The hut is now an outhouse in Castorland. “Transformer la boue en or” – Charles Baudelaire

No. 9 – Art Toronto 2007

Castor was commissioned to create an environment for no.9, a new curatoral agency launching itself at the Toronto International Art Fair. The space was both a booth for no.9 as well a rest area for the entire fair. Campfire-style seating around a bonfire of Recycled Tube Lights sat adjacent to the Shipping Container Movie House which featured a programme of short films curated by no.9′s Catherine Dean.

Room 212 – Come Up To My Room 2007

Castor participated in the annual alternative design show held at the Gladstone Hotel. 2000 ft of industrial red extension cord came out of the ceiling in a thick braid and hung out the window wrapping the exterior of the Hotel. Each cord ended in clusters of cages containing burnt-out incandescent light bulbs each lit with compact fluorescents.