Knob Wall

Because We Can

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There are architecture firms and there are interior design firms, and now, thanks to architect Jeffrey McGrew and interior designer and artist Jillian Northrup, there are architecture, design, and build studios. That's what the two call Because We Can, a group of creatives they co-founded that handles both the design and construction of a project, providing the best of both worlds. In their own words: "We are designers, architects, and fabricators who use both digital fabrication combined with traditional techniques to design and create amazing spaces." Essentially, they can actually make what they design — and vice versa.


Medium: Interactive, Sculpture
Location: San Francisco
Date: 2015

For Dolby®, they made several amazing spaces, including a display wall featuring wavy wood shelves and another with magnet boards to exhibit significant articles and awards. They also created a wall of movie posters, showcasing movies Dolby has worked on. "These were created with a wheat-paste technique, giving the final aesthetic a textured, overlaid look as you would see on the street," McGrew and Northrup explain. "The process of creating these was messy but fun. We created these on individual large panels, allowing us to bring them to the site completed, and transform the space overnight." Another project they fashioned using wall-hung panels is the knob wall, a 40-by-4-foot wall of 2,460 knobs and 250 LEDs. The knobs and dials are "all able to turn with a nice hand-feel, as if they are connected to something," McGrew explains. "Twenty-five of the knobs are connected to actual working potentiometers, which in turn connect to Arduino micro-controllers that drive the LEDs and contain 'Easter egg' surprises when knobs are properly positioned."

Because We Can

They even helped artist Nikki Starz bring her design for Dolby to life by cutting the sheets for her molded ears so they could each be oriented perfectly. "Part of our business," McGrew and Northrup declare, "is mastering the art of creative efficiency in order to make our new and innovative ideas a reality" — even when it's someone else's idea.