Facebook’s New Artist In Residence Builds Wood Domes On Wheels And Water

When the San Francisco-based artist (and avid surfer) Jay Nelson wanted a car he could sleep in for his frequent trips to the coast, he didn’t need a motor home — just a new way of looking at a sedan. Nelson had acquired a rusting 1986 Honda Civic, and with the addition some plywood, fibreglass, and a set of porthole windows, he built himself a barn-style bedroom over the boot. Sleeping in cars never looked so good!

Since that first rusted Honda, Nelson has unleashed his woodworking skills on a string of consumer vehicles: He’s hitched his faceted plywood domes to cars, boats and, once, a scooter. No two rigs are ever alike, but they all have a rack for a surfboard. Now, as a newly minted artist in residence at Facebook, Nelson is working on a design for Silicon Valley’s youngest architecture snob, Mark Zuckerberg.

At Facebook’s existing Menlo Park campus, Nelson is building a hanging wooden sphere, 2.5 meters in diameter, that will serve as a meeting room. With its bespoke charms, this dangling indoor treehouse should give succor to all those employees not lucky enough to move into Gehry’s Hobbitville across the road.

But perhaps Nelson’s most ambitious design yet is his Golden Gate wood camper (below). He built it entirely from scratch, using an electric motor, bike parts, plywood, glass, and epoxy resin. The Golden Gate can go up to 32kph — or 16kph per half hour, since the contraption can’t travel any farther on a single charge. The driver steers while sitting cross-legged on what could be a mattress or a really cushy massage table.

Beyond the joy of a nap under one of his domes, Nelson takes pleasure in transforming regular consumer vehicles into frankenmobiles. ”To take something that was manufactured in a factory and make it your own, and make it work for you, is a really creative, fun process,” he told the videographer-surfer Rob Machado. ”There’s a part of me that loves to make them, and loves to drive them around, and probably loves to be that guy who has a crazy car.” Read the full article here.

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