Lightweave Featured in Washington Post

Read the May 3, 2019 review of Lightweave in the Washington Post (written by Roger Lewis with photographs by Sam Kittner/NoMa Parks Foundation) .

The underpass makeovers are one of the city’s most artistically unique beautification projects. But they also exemplify how beautification can achieve functional as well as aesthetic goals. ... The overhead artworks provide much needed illumination and visibility within otherwise dark, forbidding spaces. While the art is pleasing to the eye and stimulates the mind, the geometric compositions and sculpted patterns of light emitted by the art make passing through or occupying the underpasses much safer for pedestrians, bikers and drivers.

Beautifying these underpasses, making them amenities rather than eyesores, radiates beyond the underpasses. This project enhances the character and quality of the District’s evolving NoMa neighborhood, an overarching goal of the NoMa Parks Foundation, which is simultaneously developing several public parks in the area.
— Roger Lewis

San Francisco Magazine Feature

Read the May issue of San Francisco magazine article “Breaking Boundaries” by Julia Millay Walsh (with an introduction by Carolyne Zinko). We are featured alongside our friends and colleagues Emerging Objects and Matsys.

an Francisco can only skate by on its gingerbread houses for so long. Pretty buildings just don’t cut it anymore. Soon, we’ll expect our architecture to perform for us, play with us and print itself ... Nataly Gattegno of FUTUREFORMS says she and partner Jason Kelly Johnson’s work has been called “high-performance craft,” but we’re not convinced it’s not sheer sorcery.”
— Julia Millay Walsh

FORM Nº 282 Simulation Shifts Design

FUTUREFORMS artwork is featured in Form No. 282.

‘Where does reality end and simulation begin? And what is the user’s role in the interplay of both? In volume 282 of form – Design Magazine under the main topic “Simulation Shifts Design” we take a look at how simulation changes the design process and what benefits designers derive from them in shaping our environment. Thus, simulations can be used to create new worlds apart from real-world power relations (Pussykrew) or allow us to experience old worlds in a new way (Mad Men); to reorient ourselves in urban spaces (Futureforms) and relearn the usage of familiar things (Google Soli) ‘



We are incredibly excited to share our proposed "Lightcloud" lighting and art concept with the Oakland community on Thursday, Jan 25, 2018. See the invitation below. Everyone is welcome!


Re: Proposed Lighting and Art Concept for the I-880 Madison Street Underpass

Neighbors and Friends,

In response to community input during approvals of the Jack London 4th & Madison construction project, Carmel Partners hopes to satisfy our Public Art obligation by creating a unique environmental art piece under the I-880 underpass at Madison Street to enhance the pedestrian experience connecting Jack London to Chinatown and Lake Merritt. Carmel Partners conducted a RFP process to a group of artists with past experience working in similar environments and with similar public agencies, and selected Future Cities Lab for their experience, Oakland connections, and most importantly their awesome concept. An image of the initial concept is attached.

We would like to get neighbor and community input on the art concept and so will host a public community meeting for neighbors and the Oakland community to learn more and provide comments and suggestions to the artist team. Please join us if you can.

DATE: Thursday January 25
TIME: 6-7pm
LOCATION: 501 Madison Street (4th and Madison Construction Trailer, beneath the I-880 underpass on the west side of Madison Street)
Light refreshments will be provided


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Nataly, Jason and the team at FUTUREFORMS are thrilled to announce that Joel Frank has accepted the position of, "Prototyping and Fabrication Manager". After working with us for close to a year, Joel will now officially manage our prototyping and fabrication shop and staff in San Francisco. Joel is an accomplished artist in his own right and brings an impressive range of experiences to our growing team of designers and fabricators.     

FF: What are your past experiences working as a fabricator?
JF: Growing up on a vineyard in Oregon I was always in and out of wood shops building the doodads and patches for the farm. Through undergrad and graduate school, the tinkering extended to metal shops, print shops, painting studios, and anywhere creative stuff was going on. It turns out, creative stuff is going on all over so for many years I traveled working from place to place: in Norway as an artist’s assistant, in Umbria teaching fresco painting, in Japan at a furniture factory. I worked on Griffin printing presses at a non-profit studio in Portland, and taught painting and design at UC Santa Cruz then recently ceramics at Mills College in Oakland. Over the last few years, my interests have expanded to processes of making that include technology driven methods of fabrication and computer assisted design so I’m happy to be entering the the era of robot arms and omniscient tools with Future Cities Lab.

FF: Is there a particular artwork - from any period - that you admire most? Why?

JF: Well, I don’t know if I would call it my favorite or would be able to single one out but I was recently very moved by James Turrell’s piece in Naoshima, Japan. It’s the opposite of tech-forward and really isn’t anything but light and atmosphere but for that reason, as a builder, I find it important to stay rooted in the fundamentals. Light shapes everything from the initial design concept to the physicality of a final object. So rudimentary considerations of light are fascinating to me.

(Spoiler alert: the following describes the piece) 
At Turrell's piece, you are led into a building that starts with switchback walls so no light reaches the inner room; you can’t see your hand in front of your it’s so dark. As you stumble in, you’re then asked to feel your way to benches and sit. For 20 minutes or you sit there in complete silence and  in complete darkness. Eventually over that span of time, the lights in the room slowly brighten to a purple glow and the contours of the room become visible until by the end you can plainly see the space and people around you. Then the docent that led you into the room appears and tells you that the lights have not changed since you entered the room. “Your eye’s have merely adjusted, you may stand up and freely exit the room”. 

I found this so impressive because the piece did nothing, it was just the creation of an environment where you got to do so much. In that darkness, you could actively gauge a shift in your own perception. It felt like Turrell was trying to say if you change the way see, you can freely get up and walk out of a place that you stumbled into with such difficulty before.

FF: What are your favorite techniques or materials to work with?

JF: Right now working on Lightweave at FCL has me deep into metal bending and the naked beauty of welding. So as cliche as it is for welders to be all about the “bead”, I have to say, I’m pretty into that rainbow bead of a nice stainless steel weld. In my own work I am a painter turned large-scale ceramicist so I love the versatility of color and texture there but I’m starting to merge that with metal. Combining the cold calculation of steel with the colorful organicism and tactility of ceramics is like putting high drama debate of our age, artificiality meeting humanity. I’m into that. 

FF: Tell us about your own art practice? 

JF: As I mentioned, my practice is centered around ceramics. I am interested in taking the medium which is typically relegated to quaint cups and bowls to a large, architectural scale. I’m trying to push the concept of modularity so I can make the work breath, expand and contract based on the space around it. The ceramic components are generally paired with metal armatures that form the basis for a narrative that speaks to synthetic spaces and objects meeting the more whimsical organic ceramic forms. 

FF:Thanks Joel!!!

You can follow Joel's personal Instagram account here!



Publication + Exhibition + Symposium

We are excited to be included in this amazing guide to interventions in the public realm. Active Public Spaceis an initiative led by IAAC, that argues that "Public space can now be transformed into Active Public Space, fostering people interaction with flows of energy, materials, services and finances to catalyse sustainable economic development, resilience, and high quality of life." Murmur Wall and Datagrove are both included in the publication and exhibition with an great group of other architects, artists and designers. Nataly presented our work at the symposium in Barcelona on November 13th and 14th, 2017.

Supported by  IAAC  |  CCEA  |  UAAV  | Creative Europe Programme of the EU |  'La Caixa' Foundation  |  Smart City Expo

Supported by IAAC | CCEA | UAAV | Creative Europe Programme of the EU | 'La Caixa' Foundation | Smart City Expo



We had fun hacking Murmur Wall right before it was de-installed in Palo Alto a couple of weeks ago! Enjoy some of our custom animations that were sent to the artwork using TouchDesigner.

04/11/2017:FUTUREFORMS is excited to announce that the Murmur Wall will be featured in Palo Alto’s Code: ART festival, June 1-3, 2017, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Palo Alto Public Art Commission. It will be on display in front of Palo Alto's city hall for four months, from June through September 2017. The Murmur Wall is an artificially intelligent, anticipatory architecture that reveals what the city is whispering, thinking, and feeling. Sharing local activity, trending topics, and whispers, the Murmur Wall will allow the people of the city to share and reflect on real-time activity. Code: ART’s goal is to reframe Palo Alto as a “laboratory for urban interventions and creative placemaking.” In order to engage and encourage interaction within the Palo Alto community, the festival will feature eight urban interventions that will activate the current downtown corridor. It should be an exciting event!


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Nataly will be speaking in the Responsive Cities: Active Spaces symposium at the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) on November 13th. Great group of speakers lined up!

From the website: "Technology is emerging as a powerful generator of new digital public spheres, producing a strong impact on the physical shape of the city itself. As new tools and planning strategies rise, designers and urbanists face new challenges. Which are the new functions and configurations that emerge in the Public Space? How do citizens interact with the urban elements and how do those latter perform? The public space is the catalyst for urban renewal in the core of cities. It is the place where participatory local democracy occurs, where the character of a Society is materialized and where all infrastructure networks that connect the City functional nodes come together ... The Responsive Cities 2017 Call focuses on the applications and implications of new technologies in the dynamic sphere of public spaces. The specific focus is placed on the advancements of technologies of information, interaction and fabrication in the redefinition of public space, as catalyst for achieving urban resilience and high quality of life."



Nataly Gattegno will be a guest speaker at the NXT City Future: Proof symposium in Toronto, Canada in October. Nataly will present recent FCL work that explores the possible opportunities for public space when it intersects with digital technology, advanced fabrication techniques, networked performance and craft.

From the website: Public Space on a Global Stage. From cutting edge civic innovation to disruptive ideas that challenge red tape, meet the top players pushing the limits of public space around the world. Future: Proof will spark ideas about how we perceive our public realm, emphasize the critical impact it plays today and challenge us to consider how best to shape it for the future.



Nataly Gattegno discusses the work of Future Cities Lab with Michael Copeland for Dell Technologies Change Agents on Forbes Magazine: from ancient Greece to the Murmur Wall and contemporary public space.  Listen to the full podcast here

From the website: What will the cities of the future look like? Autonomous cars, interactive walls, and sustainable infrastructure are just a few of the ideas being looked at by city planners around the world. In this episode of The Current podcast, Michael Copeland speaks with Nataly Gattegno, co-founder of the FUTUREFORMS to find out how cities will evolve.


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FUTUREFORMS is excited to participate in the 2017 Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism"Imminent Commons" curated by HYUNGMIN PAI & ALEJANDRO ZAERA-POLO. Our "Chronosphere" interactive installation will be presented in the "Sensing Commons" pavilion. The opening is Sept 1-2, 2017.

From the website: Chronosphere is an immersive theater for seeing, hearing and interacting with the complex flows of data being captured by the network of urban sensors throughout our cities. The cloud-like installation is composed of suspended illuminated planes that serve as portals into this digital world of flowing points, lines and variable forces. The Chronoscopes installation’s floating planes will act as portals to reveal the dynamic urban data that flows around us. These virtual portals blend the digital realm with the physical one, creating a system that expands the limits of urban public space. Reading in API sensor data from the surrounding city through Seoul’s open data system, Chronosphere will offer a real-time peek into the live and evolving sensor data of the city. As data networks are formless and spaceless, what happens when they are overlaid on the thousand-year-old urban network? How can we begin to thread this sensor data back into the flows of the city?


Image: Henrik Kam

Image: Henrik Kam

Image: Henrik Kam

Image: Henrik Kam

FUTUREFORMS is excited to exhibit work at the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, as part of the show Architectural Pavilions: Experiments and Artifacts, curated by Mariah Nielson. We have included models and prototypes from three projects that span the timeline of our recent work: TriluxThermaesphersand Anemone. The show is open from 6/24/17 - 1/7/18.

From the website: This exhibition presents digital and handmade architectural pavilions by Bay Area, national and international architects. The work included in Architectural Pavilions: Experiments and Artifacts will transform the galleries of the Museum of Craft and Design into an immersive architectural environment, demonstrating a range of projects from small-scale models to full-scale installations.

An architectural pavilion is traditionally defined as a free-standing structure – an object of pleasure. Pavilions are typically constructed for temporary events or display and their unorthodox forms contribute to their spectacular appearance. “Pavilions,” as described by London-based practice Carmody Groarke, “are not defined by the conventional characteristics of building, that of shelter or utility, but instead offer architects the opportunity to speculate about architecture and urbanism in precise and conceptual ways.”

The content included in the exhibition is diverse – material samples, drawings, films, models, mock-ups, and full-scale installations reflect the broad range of techniques that architects employ to build pavilions at variant scales. This exhibition addresses architecture’s physical and collaborative processes through the presentation of digital and handmade pavilions by eight architectural studios: Carmody Groarke (London); DOSU Studio Architecture (Los Angeles); FUTUREFORMS (San Francisco); Jay Nelson (San Francisco); Materials & Applications (Los Angeles); SITU Studio (New York); UC Berkeley Architecture students, Prof. Lisa Iwamoto (Bay Area) and Warren Techentin Architecture (Los Angeles).

Guest Curator: Mariah Nielson


Photo by Agnese Sanvito

Photo by Agnese Sanvito

We are proud to have our upcoming project Lightweave as a part of The Building Centre's exhibition Night Time is the Right Time in London. The ideas competition, sponsored by the office of the Mayor of Londonand The Built Environment Trust, "highlights icons of historic and current pioneering architecture, design and urban policy-making that mark the intersections between night-time and the built environment." The show features a wonderful array of ideas to reinvigorate and recast nightlife for the non-stop, 24-hour cities of our future. The exhibit is open to the public until August 15th, 2017.