The forward thinking, fast growing Life insurance company Brightrock asked The Ideamongery to create an art piece for their new actuarial wing located at their campus. Together with their savvy marketing department, we decided to create an abacus to help their actuaries “do the math”.

The “i” in the BrightRock logo is designed to represent the people whose lives they’ve touched. They call this fellow Iris, and we wanted to use him in the design of the abacus.

After a few sketches which their creative  director bought into the design, we started the engineering process in CAD.  A few renders later, we decided on an abacus featuring Iris as the counting beads. 100 of them.

3D printed pattern

We created a 3D printed pattern in the shape of Iris from which we made a silicone mould. We also had some metal eyelids cut from a high grade stainless steel.

Stainless Steel eyelids

We then started casting the little buggers until we had a set of 50 Amber coloured and 50 black ones. During the casting process we also constructed the 2.2 meter tall abacus frame. The frame was constructed from solid pink beach, reinforced with steel to carry the stresses incurred by the tensioned cables on which the Irisses will be suspended.

Casting Iris

Constructing the frame

One of the challenges was mixing the correct hue of amber. Because the colour is only visible after the resin is fully cured, we had to cast quite a number of tests before we got the colour at an acceptable colour. We needed the Irises to  be casted in the correct colour as apposed to just painting them, because it is a public piece meant to be used. You know how actuaries love their counting!

Experimenting with colour

Casted Irisses before finishing

It is one thing casting 100 Irises but they still needed to be finished smooth. One by one each Iris was cleaned of flashing and the split line sanded smooth. They were then polished and finally suspended from the cables ready for shipping.

Iris being sanded

Iris being polished

Iris being social