Work in Progress: Local craftsman contributes to redesign of on-air set
Ben Hull, featured in this post, will be at Bend Design 2015 as a guest panelist at Thursday’s workshop “Design: The Process” moderated by April Baer of Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Inspired by a desire to create a design that was reflective of the Central Oregon region, the team at NewsChannel 21 sought out local talent to collaborate on a redesign of their on-air interview set. Ben Hull, of the craft design studio Connell Hull Company, was a natural fit.
“We were looking for someone who could help us reflect our high desert surroundings in a way that was natural, clean and simple,” said Kara McGinn, promotions manager at the station. “Ben was recommended to us by a local builder, and from the very beginning he has been great to work with and full of ideas.”
Hull studied fine arts at Portland State University, where he developed an emphasis in large scale, abstract sculpture. As a student he ran the wood shop and metal shop, pushing him to refine his own skills in these areas. Pursuing his passion for architecture and design, he landed several large projects designing and building out boutique retail spaces in Portland that garnered him a lot of attention. He started Connell Hull Company, and seven years ago he and his family made the move to Bend. Hull’s background and interests make him a great fit for the set redesign project, which features a hewn log backdrop and presents unique challenges.
Working within a limited budget and utilizing as much of the existing structural elements as possible, Hull had to find creative ways to build the log backdrop.
“The process took on two different scopes: modifying and fortifying the inserts which house the logs, and the arrangement of the logs,” said Hull. “While it looks pretty simple a lot of work went into the frames.”
Knowing that the frames needed to be as light as possible, he constructed a false back for the logs to butt up against and painted it black to give the negative space between the logs depth.
“In fact, the actual frame depth before I constructed the false back was around eight inches deep,” said Hull. “I cut that down to about two inches deep. I estimate that each finished frame insert, with logs, ended up weighing about 75 pounds. If we cut logs for the original depth of the frames they would have weighed around 300 pounds per frame.”
Once Hull modified the frames, he began the process of producing the wood rounds to fill them.
“Chop. Saw. Then hit them against the belt sander. Hundreds and hundreds of cuts,” said Hull. “I made the decision to stay within a certain diameter range because I didn’t want the rounds to be overly large and have the size contrast among the diameter of the rounds be too visually busy.”
Hull also considered the depth arrangement of the rounds to avoid too much variation.
“The goal was to add a bit of visual interest while not dominating or disrupting the interviews,” said Hull.
Phase one of the project has been completed, and there are two more phases due to be completed in early 2016.
“Ben is amazing to work with,” said McGinn. “We shared our vision with him and he was able to take our idea and turn it into a very interesting background. We are really looking forward to completing the project and being able to use our new set fully.”
Photos courtesy of NewsChannel 21