Designer Ned Kahn collaborated with architect Scott Johnson in 2012 on a striking kinetic sculpture created using Kaynemaile™ Armour chainmail at the Welcome Tower for the Runway at Playa Vista in Los Angeles, USA.
Art merges with architecture in the ribbed structure, with its rippling movement in the wind quite similar to a billowing garment. Each rib supports two layers of Kaynemaile’s plastic chainmail fabric that ripples like the ocean in a storm when the wind picks up.
The design of the artwork at Playa Vista evolved though extensive collaboration between Kahn and Franklyn Berry, the engineer, Kayne Horsham, the founder of Kaynemaile Ltd, Patrick Ela, the art consultant, Scott Johnson and the staff at Johnson/Fain, and the steel fabricators, Paramount Metals and Supply.
Ned Kahn created a series of prototypes and tested them on a windy hillside next to his studio in Sebastopol. Kaynemaile Building-Armour was chosen for its ability to expand when billowing gracefully in the wind. Being exceedingly strong, it can handle even the fierce Santa Ana winds.
In the Playa Vista installation, Kaynemaile Armour takes advantage of a wind channel right from the ocean into Runway. Kahn called the structure ‘Enagua’, a Latin- American term for an undergarment that provides volume, which the billowing Kaynemaile fabric resembles with its kinetic movement.
The name is also a play on the words En-agua, or ‘in water’, since the wind over the ocean waters flows into Runway and blows over the Kaynemaile mesh.
Ned Kahn has been collaborating with various architects and engineers for the last 25 years on kinetic facades that respond to wind and light. He has completed major projects in Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, Japan, Australia and the US. In 2009, Kahn wrapped a building in San Diego with thousands of pieces of aluminium chainmail, which was very time consuming and expensive to produce.
He replaced metal chainmail with Kaynemaile seamless mesh in his projects after meeting the New Zealand-based Kaynemaile founder Kayne Horsham, who had worked on the Lord of the Rings movies, creating plastic chainmail for the armies of Middle Earth. When there was threat of delay due to the inability of metal chainmail suppliers to fabricate enough for the sets, Kayne supplied the required chainmail to clothe the armies, keeping the shoot on schedule.