The Making of the 2016 AZ Awards Trophy and Installation

The Making of the 2016 AZ Awards Trophy and Installation

The star-studded 2016 AZ Awards gala – which fêted the winners and finalists of the sixth annual program – featured a few innovations all its own. Working with new techniques, Toronto design studio Castor created a stunning light installation and Vancouver designer Omer Arbel devised the wonderful trophies.

The winners of the sixth annual AZ Awards not only received recognition for their groundbreaking projects and products – they also took home a trophy designed and made by Omer Arbel. A halo of bubbles surround the polished pewter letters A and Z, created in a completely novel process.

The Vancouver designer approaches each project according to the general philosophy that guides his studio: invent fabrication processes that yield new forms. Rather than imagining the final form, that is, the studio imagines an experimental method that results in a new product. This is how it has created the numbered lighting series of its world-renowned Bocci brand, from the folded porcelain shapes of 21 to the ethereal, fabric-textured glass clouds of 73.

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For the AZ trophies, Arbel sought to stick to the iconography of the brand, keeping the two letters – the A and the Z – distinct. These were cast in pewter, in two-inch-deep moulds that were placed on an L-shaped aluminum tray. The tray was suspended in an ice water bath, and then Arbel took a torch to them, melting the backs of the letters. Rivulets of pewter – those lovely foam-like bubbles – flowed past the edge of the letters and over the aluminum tray. They instantly congealed into a droplet formation on the top and sides; the L shape of the tray prevented beads from building on the bottom, allowing the letters to stand on their bottom edges.

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The faces of the letters were polished before the melting occurred – their hard edges revealing the meniscus of the liquid to solid process – so that the polished surfaces could be complemented by the bubbles’ coarseness. The year 2016 was also cast into a cavity in the aluminum tray, the pewter bubbles incorporating it. A work of art, the AZ trophy honoured 18 winners among the 66 finalists.

 

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An interactive light installation by Castor enjoyed the spotlight before and after the awards ceremony. Pianist Amy Seulky Lee took to a Schimmel, provided by Robert Lowrey Piano Experts, and delighted the crowds with Chopin. As she struck each note, the fluorescent tube matrix surrounding the piano pulsated with illumination.

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The Liberace x Flavin installation is an exploration of electrical magnetic fields, which excite the gases in the fluorescent tubes. An RGB sound controller was connected to both the installation – made up of about 250 tubes, between six and 10 feet tall, held together in clusters by rings – and the piano. The controller adjusted the brightness of each tube with every note that was played.

The artwork shows Castor doing what it does best – experimenting with new lighting technologies and techniques, and finding new ways of working with fluorescent tubes.

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