Creating a data server art sculpture for New York artist Yorgo Alexopolous

Yorgo Alexopolous creates fine art installations and sculptures using a variety of media and technologies. We've worked on numerous hardware and software projects together which started with his web identity back in 2012.

Creating CLOUDS

2015

Almost two years ago, Yorgo filled me in on an ambitious plan for his latest installation. It was an intriguing idea that drew inspiration from a scandal that occured in the 90’s. If you are curious, Yorgo discusses his motivations in a recent interview with SF Gate.

Right from the start we knew it was going to be a complex build requiring a combination of skills across many different disciplines. I was tasked with finding the tools and materials to make this sculpture a reality.

After he presented me with his early sketches I proceeded to make a CAD mockup so we could 3D print and experiment with the form of the sculpture iteratively. We built most of the three final scultpures in-house while relying on metal fabricators for the frame.

Various stages of the build process.

Once the main structure was in place, there was the task of writing all the custom code to make the server come to life. I worked closely with Yorgo to dial in and create the exact look and feel for the project he was looking for.

This piece was one of the most technically and physically rewarding projects I’ve worked on as it perfectly lies at the intersection of art and technology.

Due to the proprietary nature of this build, I cannot share too many of the details. However, if you would like to read an in-depth article on the basic process, I recently put together a comprehensive overview on hardware prototyping.

Building a community of designers

Designer News

2014 - 2015

Designer News was conceived as a side project of the now defunct LayerVault. The founders decided to create this community as a platform to share news about their own product and interesting news within the design industry.

As it gained traction I was hired to lead the project. I had the right combination of product design, management and editorial skills required.

As the person solely responsible for Designer News within the company, I was required to wear many hats. I never had a typical work day.

The sum total of my efforts could be realized by several key metrics. When I started, the readership was in the thousands.

At the end of my first year, we were at several hundred thousand readers and driving several million clicks a month. 75% of DN readers visit the site every day.

After LayerVault was shutdown, I remained on as an advisor. Designer News has a new home at Metalab where it continues to grow.

Layervault

In addition to running Designer News, I would often be tasked with work for LayerVault as well. This involved designing and creating product materials, guidelines, internal tools and helping create several new product features. Below is a list that highlights some of the major things I worked on for both DN and LayerVault:

  • Helped build and design various user and admin features for DN. That included voting ring detection, IP black listing, reply notifications, the weekly DN digest, admin dashboard & controls and several others.
  • Built an internal design related curation app using the twitter API.
  • Organized AMAs with folks like John Maeda, Julie Zhuo, Jessica Hische, Matias Duarte among many others.
  • Coordinated community meetups & contests throughout the US.
  • Designed relevant ad campaigns for both Designer News and LayerVault.
  • Hired and managed creative agencies and freelancers.

Showcase Project

One of the series of showcase projects I designed to demonstrate the features of LayerVault. This project played a role in winning over several enterprise clients including Spotify, Pebble, BBC, and Expedia.

Digital Work


Over the years I’ve worked in various mediums to expand my skill set and to encourage creative diversity. Here are some of the projects that I’m particularly fond of.

Writing

I recently put together a comprehensive overview on hardware prototyping. I wrote about building a glowing ambient notification cube. It managed to stay on the front page of Hacker & Designer News for most of the weekend. Read it here

Video

A collection of videos from the places I have visited.

Liberty Park
Tokyo Layover
Strangely Familiar
Bayonne Park

Illustration

A series of experimental vector illustrations.

Unexpected Surprise
Flame
Across The Sea
The Mystery Express