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Orange geometric sphere sculpture.

Hoberman's Spheres: Kinetic Geometry That Links Engineering With Art


Chuck Hoberman's spheres are brilliant representations of geometry's presence in and around us.

One of the most brilliant manifestations of geometry is Hoberman’s spheres. These icosidodecahedron (similar geodesic domes) deconstruct themselves in dynamic ways, expanding and contracting up to 5 times their original size, while evoking the movement of a pair of scissors. Their transformations are graceful and attractive: their contortions are sometimes synchronized to light and sound, creating a spectacular polyhedral dance.

Chuck Hoberman, following Buckminster Fuller’s footsteps, has toured the world with his spheres. One of his spheres was recently on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he revealed a new sphere called “Nouasion,” which refers to the moment a grape-bud sprouts in a vineyard. This stunning sphere is made up of 54 nodes and 224 arms, with an aluminum frame that reflects its surroundings and intentionally echoes the “cycle of the seasons.” The Chateau Smithe Haute Lafitte in Bordeaux, where the elegant, strange sculpture that seems to have its own intelligence is housed in a sprawling garden, commissioned the work of art.

Few designers have been able to breach the gap between engineering and art with the same force and subtlety that Hoberman has. His design team, which also crafts toys, medicinal technology and other architectural spaces, explains: “We think that this world of accelerating change needs an adaptive and interactive perspective on design.”

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