Sometimes great things can come from really bad ideas...
One autumn morning, at the age of 32, Richard Buckminster Fuller was planning to commit suicide by swimming to the point of exhaustion in Lake Michigan. As he prepared to enter the water, he suddenly had an epiphany, realising that a single individual had the power to change the world and help people around the globe. Born in 1895, "Bucky" went on to become a renowned US architect, designer, inventor, writer and futurist. One of his many patented humanist ideas and innovations was the geodesic dome, which took its name from the Greek for "earth dividing" and was the fruit of his obsession with geometry, his search for mathematical perfection and his systematic thought. Each geodesic sphere comprises a set of icosahedrons (three-dimensional shapes having 20 plane faces), with the inside of the icosahedrons forming "golden rectangles", reflecting the golden ratio so vital to Fuller's work, which echoes LE GRAMME's own approach to design.
The man some call the Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th century was clear about his method: "When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. But when I am done, if it is not beautiful, then I know it is wrong." The first Fuller dome was unveiled in its absolute form in 1949 and was able to sustain its own weight with no practical limits, marking the start of a successful career for the erstwhile misfit and non-conformist, who was twice kicked out of Harvard.
In 1954, Fuller began working with the architect Shoji Sado. Together, they designed the dome for the US pavilion at the 1967 World Expo in Montreal, which is now known as the "Biosphere". This was his crowning moment. The Biosphere became the city's environment museum, reflecting the eco-activist approach Fuller advocated in his work. He later went on to create the concept of Dymaxion (a neologism coined as a portmanteau of "dynamic", "maximum" and "tension") through which he invented the Dymaxion Car, Dymaxion Bathroom, Dymaxion Sleep and Dymaxion House, all designed to improve people's lives and help us live in harmony with our ecosystems, using the strengths of materials and shapes. The most well-known embodiment of the Dymaxion concept is undoubtedly the Dymaxion Map, a world map split into 20 triangles that can be folded together to form an icosahedron. This unconventional design revealed the reality of the planet's land masses, free of the inherent distortion found in the Mercator maps, while doing away with the North-South division Fuller saw as unsuitable for our world. "Do more and more with less and less until eventually you can do everything with nothing."
The visionary designer's adage resonates fully with LE GRAMME in its drive to explore geometric shapes conveying universal meaning, connecting with the broader community through the purest of designs. Buckminster was a visionary but never wore bracelets or rings (apart from his wedding band). However, he did travel extensively and was known to always sport no fewer than three watches on his wrists, showing the time in his current country, the time in the one he had left and the time wherever he was going next in the world —a world that now has 300,000 geodesic domes.
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