"I feel we have not done justice describing it yet," says the Israeli-born, New York–based designer Dror Benshetrit, creator of the diabolically brain-twisting QuaDror system—"and I don’t think the press has, either." No self-respecting member of the Fourth Estate can ignore such a challenge, yet after 20 minutes of listening to Benshetrit explain (and re-explain) what Studio Dror’s literature calls "a unique space truss geometry," the simple brilliance of the structural building blocks becomes unmissable.
This comes as little surprise, as Benshetrit’s work has always had a formalist panache. The rigorous undulations of his Peacock chair for Cappellini are formed by just three pieces of folded felt, and his dorm-room collection for Target offers a collapsible clock and eminently rearrangeable shelving made from a few strong components.
Fundamentally, QuaDror consists of four identical L-shaped pieces, with each edge of each piece cut to the same slight angle—"15 degrees is ideal," Benshetrit says. The four parts are formed into two squares, which are then set back to back (the lower edges of the 15-degree angles meeting), with one square oriented horizontally, the other vertically. "That gives you four overlapping areas between the two squares along the diagonal," Benshetrit says, drawing them in his sketch pad, "each of which you connect using glue, bolts, or screws." Picking up a QuaDror model, he sets it upright on his desk, lets go, and presto! The connection points form a natural hinge, and the flat sandwich falls open to create a freestanding object that is triangular on all four sides.
"It’s very strong and stable," Benshetrit says. "The triangulations are always opposite—you have a V on one side and an A on the other—so the supports are constantly in tension. It’s always parallel to the ground [the 15-degree angles are self-correcting] so you can stack them, and in terms of compression load, it’s almost as sturdy as a block. And you can use thin L-shaped pieces, which give you a trestle, or thicker ones, so it looks like a solid object."
Though Benshetrit came up with QuaDror by accident while trying to create two interlocking squares as a frame for a chandelier, he instantly recognized its potential. "We’ve been working on this for four years, coming up with more and more applications, to show the system’s ability to become a lot of different things." An exciting prefab architecture use of the system is above, and more of the myriad QuaDror manifestations follow in the slideshow.
New York contributing editor Marc Kristal found himself overwhelmed not only by the urbanistic pleasures of Bordeaux, France- which dueled for his attention with the city's historic architectural legacy- but by what architect Olivier Brochet described as the region's special appreciation of l'art de vivre. Back home, Kristal is working with the Alliance for Downtown New York, documenting a six-month planning study of the Greenwich South district, just below the World Trade Center site.