Amidst hissing espresso machines and the daily bustle of a Wisconsin coffee shop, student design firm “Grit Tank’s” breathtaking installation “Double Overhead” winds through the café’s interior. Made with reclaimed materials, the curvaceous light fixture graces the interior of Milwaukee’s very own Roast Coffee Co., and provides an elegant partition between intimate café seating and noisy barista clamor.
The installation itself is named after a surfing term that describes the rare and coveted occurrence of a wave twice the size of a given surfer. While the only body of water near Milwaukee is Lake Michigan, Grit Tank’s surf-inspired work flows seamlessly with the bustling café. Intelligent design was a top priority for the team, and they went to great lengths to sustainably source their materials. Salvaged steel tubing from manufacturing plants creates a metal skeleton which supports “a cladding of reclaimed woods, including oak from a 150 year old church and pine from a 100 year old barn.” The fixture’s light shines through a series of deadstock acrylic panels which were sourced from fabrication shops that had no use for them.
The acrylic light panels constrict and widen all along the fixture’s curves according to the individual atmospheric needs of each section of the café. The light’s warmth coupled with the material’s inherent charm and history blend perfectly with the shop’s 1950’s modernist features. The design’s context, materials, and aesthetic are demonstrative of how this beautiful, collaborative work can reflect an establishment’s history while simultaneously shedding light on its future.