IDEO Has Mask Appeal

This year’s AIGA gala was a masquerade ... IDEO was asked to participate again this year, so, of course, we took up the challenge.

November 21, 2011
Reading Time
2 minutes

Every fall the San Francisco chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, hosts a gala to celebrate a community of over 1,600 students and professionals in the Bay Area under the umbrella of communication design, ranging from graphic design to interactive design and experience design. Each gala has a theme that is most evidently expressed through the auctioning of custom-designed objects by design firms and independents. This year’s event was a masquerade, and appropriately titled “Mask Appeal.”

IDEO was asked to participate again this year, so, of course, we took up the challenge. It didn’t take much convincing to recruit fellow communication designer Wilfred Castillo to help imagine what a contribution from IDEO could be. After a week of remotely brainstorming how to transform a $3 mask structure into something awesome, we finally landed on the concept of a wooden toy maze. It’s interactive, nostalgic and who didn’t love this game as a kid?


Click through for more photos and build details.

Once the decision was made, we consulted Nathan Whipple and Peter Bronk of the IDEO prototyping team in Palo Alto to see if it could be done in time for the event the following week. The minute the words “definitely feasible” were uttered, we sprinted through the weekend to design the layout of the maze structure and the graphics in Adobe Illustrator to move the rest of the production along. Anthem Printing in San Francisco had burned a silk screen for us by Monday morning, and the graphics were applied to the wood surface by nightfall.

Tuesday morning, the materials and source files were passed over to Nathan and Peter to begin figuring out how to best to build and assemble the mask. They mulled it over and came up with internal sleeves, to space the components. Peter machined the main mask housing out of RenShape®, and the internal spacers out of ABS plastic. After the parts were milled, they had to be finished with three layers of paint.

Between the graphics and the woodworking, it was a largely hands-on process that demanded a good deal of precision inherent in our craft. On Thursday November 10th, the day of the Gala, the product of this collaboration was finalized and ready for its big debut. Of course we all gave the game a quick play to break it in, but, after many failed attempts, it was time head to San Francisco to give it away to the highest bidder at the AIGA SF Gala.

(Mask contributions came in from designers from Dwell, ASTRO, Public, SMART, Apple, Landor Associates and many more awesome studios and independent creatives.)