Lab Seven

September 2008 : BALLROOM MARFA, South West Texas. USA.

“… it the Thunderbird bike they’re waving at or does everyone wave “hey!” to everyone?”

This Lab realised the making of Sonic Bed_Marfa. Hosted by Ballroom Marfa, it began with Kaffe’s arrival to explore the town and surroundings in July 2008.

Blasted by endless huge space and long clear vistas, here Kaffe discovered a wealth of contrasts in both abundance and scarcity, light and texture and the constant replacing and requisitioning of traditional and modern methods to improve daily living.

Exploring the town and surrounding landscape she first considered stucco as material for the Bed’s sides (not viable as it would mean the Bed needing to be rebuilt at every installation), then man made hardboard used to construct Marfan mobile homes, finally arriving at the locally weathered plywood found boarding up many empty buildings in the town.

“Lets capp this roughness in a clear resin of light” – she determined ” – with something smooth and strong and totally artificial “, – so triggering a move back into the world of design and architecture and controlled man made materials of varying sources and outcomes.

Recycled glass manufacturers in Texas and French lighting installers in East London were some of the new links made, but within the time and budget scheme, the best option available to achieve the desired effect concluded at perspex.

Yellow was the colour and the light that was part of this plan. Either to be achieved reflectively, within the material itself or through lighting effects. When Kaffe began to make the music back in the Sonic Bed_London lab using a feedback system through digital oscillators, the yellow music easily grew and the idea was confirmed.

Back in Marfa for the final wrap ten days before opening, things were not quite as anticipated. Severe flooding in neighbouring Presidio and Ojinaga, Mexico combined with the hurricane knocking out electricity for two weeks in Houston had caused chaos and so delays to work and materials delivery in Marfa.

Bed needs to sit horizontal to sit square and the floor in the Ballroom’s South Gallery has a beautiful dip. It also has to be one of the most resonant concrete boxes a Sonic Bed has ever been installed in, with HQ for the gallery just over the partition wall. Combined with things like needing to cut and fit the weathered wood over the plywood frame whilst the perspex capps were flying about from El Paso to Denver and back just for circle cutting meant that this Bed’s already high demands were realised under complex circumstances for everyone. Thanks to the starling dawn chorus and that train for keeping us attentive.

As with Sonic Bed_Scotland, Bed’s sides were placed outside the width pieces on the build, so the length was a bit more and the width a bit less than planned making the mattress a different cut. The eight and a half metres of felt had arrived from London with only two days hold up at customs and over the road working Katherine Shaughnessy undaunted made a beautiful lined mattress cover and seven small lined pillows whilst her husband interviewed Kaffe on the local radio.

This Bed is a truly Marfan team build. With much appreciation.