A Portland Artist's Mindboggling Buckminster Fuller Book

Cole Gerst's Kickstarter-funded tome celebrates the inventor's radical vision of home, design, and society.

By Zach Dundas March 3, 2014

Portland artist/designer Cole Gerst was researching possible furniture projects. One name kept coming up: Buckminster Fuller. "I'd always known the name," the 41-year-old says. "But I didn't really know much about him. I dove in. I got kind of obsessed. I read a bunch of books, and realized that I had an opportunity to reintroduce him to a new generation."

The result: Buckminster Fuller: Poet of Geometry, Gerst's beautifully illustrated, idiosyncratically biographical celebration of the visionary designer and theorist. Fuller, whose epic life spanned from 1895 to 1983, is now best remembered for the geodesic dome. But that concept, with its utopian overtones of sustainable technology and radical design departures, only hints at the breadth of Fuller's creativity and iconoclasm.

"He wanted to drop bombs to clear space for planting pre-fabricated housing," Gerst says. "He was designing buildings with materials that didn't even exist."

Over a year of research, Gerst assembled a kaleidoscopic array of illustrations, both translating and celebrating the technical and aesthetic details of Fuller's work. "Most books about him are very technical, with illustrations in black and white," he says. "My own illustration style tends to be very loose, but as I worked on this, I was very careful with technical detail, geometry, and symmetry."

Gerst funded the first 1,000 copies of the book, released under his own Option-G imprint, via Kickstarter, where he racked up over $30,000. At the time of this writing, he's negotiating with a commercial publisher to produce a second edition.

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