Mark Erickson: Too Many Cooks Perfect the Broth - Designing the Oval Intention
Q: Wasn't there some sort of 'harmonic convergence' involving inspiration from Bucky, you & Bruce for TNF and Bob Gillis in a van that put all the pieces into place to develop the OI?
Mark: It’s late ’73 or early ’74: a beat-up VW van pulls into the TNF parking lot at 1234 5th street outside Hap’s office. Out tumbles Bob Gillis, his wife and their infant child, scruffy even by 1973 Berkeley standards. Bob’s been knocking on the doors at Gerry in Denver, and, we gather, pretty much every other outdoor company trying to interest them in his shelter invention, with no luck at all. Not surprising given his..shall we say, casual appearance and demeanor.
An image of Pigpen in the Peanuts comic strip comes to mind…Priding ourselves on our open-mindedness, we invite him to show us what he’s got. We get the sense that TNF is his last-ditch effort, after which he’ll retreat to his camp in the Santa Cruz forest and forage for mushrooms. To demonstrate his idea, he pulls out a piece of fabric to which is attached nails he’s bent back on themselves to form crude rings. The nails are arranged at right angles to each other at regular intervals. Bob threads some sort of flexible wand material (later, PVC tubing) through the nail “rings” and creates a flexible orthogonal grid, the whole thing held together by means of the fabric “skin”. He bends and twists this assembly to show that it can be shaped into a sort of quonset-type tent structure. We are intrigued, but not entirely sure of what we’re looking at. We thank Bob, promise to stay in touch, and send him on his way.
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