Year: 2023

San Jose, CA


746 The Alameda, Suite 30, San Jose, CA

modOffice / Shadow Ceiling


David Fenster

I love shadows.

The poetry created from the dancing and dappling of filtered and obstructed light throughout the day brings a peacefulness and calmness beyond compare. Only possible by the transparent admission of natural light, it creates an unequalled connection to the surrounding environment, the sun, the clouds and the sky.

In conceptualizing the development of our small 2,000 square foot office, it would be essential for the space to become a theater for light and shadow, as a daily reminder of the passion and inspiration of that which we aim to create.

oSimple walls would delineate the workstation areas, a shop for testing ideas, and a small break space.

  • These walls would become a canvas for the shadows

oThe middle environment would be the stage for meetings, collaboration, interviews, and gatherings.

  • A space to sit within the shadows, and experience their movement and dance

Many shapes and materials were investigated, and ultimately a softly pulled and tapering tube was decided upon to create the myriad of shadows. Adding another layer – allowing a section of “shadow tubes” to be able to change height would not only add additional opportunity for changing the shadow, but also allow the design groups to be screened during meetings or collaboration.

o2,215 –  3D printed shadow tubes made from engineering grade translucent filament

o728 shadow tubes connected to motors, on 3D printed apparatus with motor, switch, and control boards

oCommunication to moving Shadow Tubes wireless via IoT (Internet of Things)

oAll shadow tubes and apparatus were constructed, assembled, wired, and installed in-house

oChip on board LED lighting tied to 3 rows with motors to raise and lower artificial lighting

oTarnished brass entry set in canted walls, created by submerging brass in plain yogurt (yes, after many unique tests that was the coloration we wanted)

oShou-sugi ban planks interspersed with flat bar brass makeup the break area wall juxtaposed to hammered brass countertops

oCustom laser cut restroom signage nods to a comic book affinity, complete with occupant triggered lighting

As for the images, it felt as though nothing other than a snapshot from a smartphone with no filters and no staging could tell the truth, the story, the ever-changing scene. An abundance of photographs that start to describe the poems created hourly, weekly, monthly, and seasonally.

A simple beautiful element bringing constantly changing depth and life to the space, but also physically effecting how the space can be used and function. Not just art or sculpture, but architecture effecting space.




Universal Structural Engineers (Kevin O'Keefe)

Vulcan Construction (Joel Graham)

MODULUS (Shadow Tube ceiling)

Additional Team

Leonard Fenster (Motor control Code)

Essentium (3D print Filament)

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