The CSG team joined with the Leadership of Crossway Christian Church in Nashua, NH to envision a re design of their worship space. These Changes made better use of the space, reduced awkward sight lines, and increased the over all production potential of the space. In the near future they are planning on launching a new campus in the area these changes set them on a course to succeeded in that vision.
I worked with the Crossway team to design a set for the space. We went thru several design revisions and landed on three towers center stage and small set pieces that set under the screens. We were tweaking the design until the very end the creativity was flowing.
We built the towers with a 2X4 frame and finished the bottom and top sections with pergo laminate hard wood flooring. We trimmed the sections with a trim that counseled strip lighting that creates the glow.
The church sits on wooded property so we headed out to the back forty with a chainsaw and cut us down some trees. (I said that in a think Oklahoma accent…) Putting 15′ trees in boxes was more challenging that I expected, but the end product was worth all the work.
I’m excited to see what God has for Crossway in the future!
I was walking past Armani Exchange this weekend and noticed this amazing florescent light sculpture in the window. This is a custom build piece but would be easy to construct. The color is just gel tubes cut in sections. This could be a fun addition to any space.
A couple of months ago I worked with the team at Spring Lake Wesleyan in Spring Lake, MI to build a set for their newly redesigned space you can read about it here. Last week they sent me some photos of the set during service. I love seeing how the stage comes alive during a service. The energy that comes from having people in the shot makes all the difference in the world. A reminder that it really is all about the people.
I have been thinking about shape a lot lately. I am trying to introduce more organic shapes into my design. I was looking at this tall vase full of branches in my living room the other day and was inspired by the lines against the art. I started photographing the branches and came up with a great image that really is inspiring me. I love the shallow depth of field that leaves some branches blurry and some crisp.
What’s inspiring you?
Church Solutions Group recently partnered with Orchard Hill Church in the Pittsburgh, PA area. We just completed a video upgrade in the main auditorium. Orchard Hill has held off upgrading the technology in the room and focused on developing the community areas of their facility. This means no LED fixtures on the main stage… NO LED FIXTURES! You don’t realize how accustom you have become to working with certain type of fixture until you don’t have them. This created several hurdles. first is heat, most of my set designs do not take heat very well. Using conventional fixtures caused us to consider how the heat would affect the set. Next is the ability to change the color of the light. Fortunately Orchard Hill had a healthy collection of color scrollers to for us to use. They do plan on upgrading to LED fixtures soon so we designed with that in mind.
The space is very tall (40’), your eye was naturally drawn up to the top of the space. We needed to design so that your attention was focused in and down. We designed a series of 8 – 4’ wide towers that varied in height. The varied height of the towers creates an arc shape that builds to the top of the center screen (22’). We also used the cross bracing to create a line that builds across the stage to contribute to the arc. This keeps your eye focused down and to the center of the stage. The tallest towers were 18’ tall which seems tall for their purpose of focusing your attention down but the height was necessary to make them translate in the space.
We also wanted to introduce a organic curved pattern into the space. To accomplish this we used PVC pipe behind the coroplast to create the curved patterns. We simply used drywall screws and the tension of the PVC kept the pipe in place.
I had a great experience working with the team at Orchard hills, and look forward to see how they use and transform this set in the future.
I finally made it out to Kearney eFree Church in Kearney, NE to install a set in their new building. I really wanted to explore some different shapes in the design. We stuck to the basic tower design that provides freedom of movement around the stage and easily moves off stage for events where the stage needs to be cleared. I drew the shape in illustrator and then projected it onto the MDF and traced the shapes. We had challenges because we were using a short throw projector that distorted the image. It took way more time to get it positioned correctly than I thought it would. The center tower is 16’ tall by 4’ wide and the side towers are 13’ tall by 4’ wide. To achieve this height the curved sections were created using two sections of MDF. We cut out four matching sections for each leg of the tower and sandwiched 24” sections of 2X4’s between the sheets of MDF to connect the sections together. The large dowel rods were placed to connect the two sections. We weaved the clear coroplast between the dowel rods. We hung 3 bare bulb fixtures from the top piece of dowel. The towers were washed with two LED fixtures one from the front and one from the back. The shapes seem to defy gravity but are very stable. I had a great time working with Kelly Gubser and his team to bring this project to life.
Spring lake Wesleyan in Spring Lake, MI brought Church Solutions Group in to upgrade their main auditorium. They are a growing church that is going multi-site. This was extensive remodel of the interior space as well as the technology. This transitioned them form a very traditional space with pews to a modern space that focuses peoples attention on the speaker instead of the space it’s self
After talking to the team about their desired use of the space I designed a pipe grid (usually mounted above the stage or studio space) that was mounted vertically on the back wall. They often used truss placed around the stage to mount lighting, large printed images, and other set elements. The grid provided a versatile structure for them to attach elements to.
I sat down with their worship and tech team and talked thru several design options for their set. We landed on a design that would utilize 2 X 4’s pained gray attached with conduit clamps to the grid. We unwashed the structure with 5 PAR56 LED fixtures with diffusion and 8 PAR36 fixtures without diffusion from the floor. We also used three 6” fresnels mounted at the top of the grid washing the structure from straight above. This provided the versatility to go from a polished look to a very raw look.
It was a great experience working with Chip Bos and his team to make this set come alive.
A collection of set designs
This weekend marked the end of a chapter in my life. Sunday was officially my last day working with the team at Park Community Church.
This decision did not come easy. Much thought and prayer went into the decision. My time at Park has been an invaluable chapter in my life. The team at Park has been amazing and have truly impacted my life in a way that will always be remembered.
The photo was taken only months after I started at park. I was part of the opening service of the Park Near North campus and has served as a strong visual reminder for me over the last couple of years. God has been faithful.
It has been a joy to serve with the men and women who make up the Park team and I will very much miss serving with them. I have joined the design team over at Church Solutions Group. CSG did all the audio/video/lighting installation at Park. During that time I became friends with the guys. This relationship has developed over the years. I am looking forward serving churches all over the nation with an amazing group of people that call CSG home.
People always ask where I come up with ideas for my projects. My response is always “just from the world around me”. I have always been inspired by everyday objects that we interact with on a daily basis. I remember years ago, I drove by some vines that were growing wild. They had taken the shape of an abstract ballet dancer. I may have been the only one to see it, that is until I showed it to my wife, but it was there. I have stored that idea away in the back of my head and some day it will be part of a project.
If I look back over set designs I have done in the past, most of the inspiration came from just living life. The towers I did were inspired by parking garages in downtown buildings. The conduit set was inspired by the array of power lines in alley ways. The Good Friday set came from the many raw concrete walls around the city. The candles I did for Christmas was just a way to make a candelabra scaled for the room. The INvest set was taken from a photo mobile in the gift shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
When I found this quote it really resonated with me. This is how I live my life:
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”" – Jim Jarmusch