New York, US | 2008


With the Vector Wall, we have imagined ways that a simple laser cutter can perforate a rigid or semi-rigid material with multidirectional patterning, reinterpreting the common domestic partition wall and transcending a simple definition of space to become spatial in itself. Once cut, a flat steel sheet can transform into a volumetric, scalable, diaphanous scrim collapsing structure, volume, and enclosure all within the same system. The flexible wall module can extend from its original four-by-eight foot sheet size into a dimensionally variable panel, depending on material, cut pattern, and variable force vectors. Through this approach to fabrication, a standard material may transcend its dimensions not only in the x and y axes but also in the z axis, increasing its ability to accommodate environmental variables, and therefore increasing the variety of its uses. Essential in the design of Vector Wall was the isolation of formal variables in the cut pattern and their various effects they produce on the resultant surface. Identifying how these patterns respond to variable force was wholly dependent on the idea of controlled material failure, in this case the buckling of the remaining steel after laser-cutting. By iteratively testing cutting patterns by applying force to the system in different ways, we were able to identify the range of this material failure, and ultimately narrow down particular desired effects and adaptively respond to material limitations or physical constraints. The final form is a combination of structural articulation, such as structural branching, weight distribution, and material accumulation, as well as aesthetic or atmospheric effects, such as variable visibility, porosity / opacity, luminosity, and perceived spatial manipulation and material flow. Vector Wall was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art on the occasion of the exhibition Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling and supported in part by Artistic Metal Works and Focus Lighting, Inc.

Project Info

Client: Museum of Modern Art New York, NY  |  Size: 96 x 96 x 24” (variable)  |  Type: Partition Wall  |  Structure: Laser Cut Steel


Project Credits


Jesse Reiser + Nanako Umemoto


Design Team

Neil Cook, Michael Overby, Grant Alford


Interns and Assistants

Bob Frederick


Fabrication Team

Grant Alford, Neil Cook, Michael Overby, Bob Frederick, Steven Lauritano


Fabrication Assistance

Artistic Metal Works, Hawthorne, NJ


Lighting Design

Focus Lighting, Inc., New York, NY



Lindsay May Photographs, New York, NY

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