Platonic Spools

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu

The 2nd Leonardo Challenge

Platonic Spools

Thumbnail of Platonic Spools project

On May 16th, 1996, the Eli Whitney Museum will open an exhibition of small works submitted by designers, artists, architects and engineers.

  • this second Leonardo Challenge will support our Leonardo Project, a design arts curriculum for schools, and its scholarships for young designers.
  • the project will embody the adult expression of the craft and creativity the Museum fosters in children.
  • the work will explore design as a way of thinking.
  • the project will celebrate the design community…a critical element of the region’s economy

Platonic Spools

Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebooks define a philosophy of design. Underlying the material world, Leonardo sees Platonic geometry: pure spheres, cubes, and pyramids linked by laws of proportion. In turn, these basic forms find infinitely varied expressions.

This universal common structure liberates Leonardo’s curiosity. He draws no distinction between his designs for machines or musical instruments, between sculptures or siphons, between his architecture or artillery. Beneath all are simple building blocks.

Consider the spool and the cigar box. They are familiar and natural building blocks which give form to the first creations of children. They offer the experienced designer a universal geometry to explore.

The Problem

Transform the spools and the cigar box. Look for the un-common expressions of these common forms… help us demonstrate the possibilities of this commission to show design at work.

  • We will send you spools, a cigar box and further guidelines.
  • Add materials as you wish.
  • Use the cigar box to frame your entry.
  • Return your completed design by May 10th.

Call 777.1833 to request materials. For a $25 entry fee, you will receive a ticket to the May 16th reception, a Leonardo’s Challenge T- shirt, and more importantly, partnership in this educational effort.

Principal Underwriter:

The Josef & Anni Albers Foundation
Supporting Underwriters:
Cesar Pelli & Associates
Lehman Brothers Engravers
Charrette Corporation

Honorary Chair: Alvin Eisenman

"Crane Dance" Vitaly Romanenko

"Box Eater" Vladimir Shpitalnik

"The Last Stitch" Mark Simon

"Daffodils" Lisa Hodes "Daffodils" Hunter Nesbitt Spence "Peas in a Pod" Karla Matheny

"Chessmen" Vladimir Shpitalnik

Back to Top