Better living from an elegant time
Deco Design Goes Digital
Meet Jeffrey Stephenson
Sailor, Engineer, Accountant, IT Director, Land Baron and creator of extraordinary Art Deco inspired computers.
by Karen Geer
Art Deco Society of California: So, you design electronic pieces with Art Deco style?
Jeffrey Stephenson: Let me start off by saying that I am a hobbyist. I design and build custom computers for my own enjoyment and artistic "release". I still have all 25+ projects I have built in the last eight years. My wife uses them to decorate the house and most are rarely ever used (as computers).
Pico Bayard - a tribute to the French clockmaker Bayard's art deco styled mantle clock.
I started out by figuring out how to install computer internals into various existing wooden boxes including cigar humidors and pen displays. I then progressed into designing and building my own boxes in my own personal favorite style...Art Deco.
ADSC: What first sparked your interest in Art Deco?
JS: I was first influenced by Art Deco in 1964 when my family made a trip to Miami Beach. I was nine at the time and the sight of the great South Beach hotels is still my most memorable experience. In the late Sixties my father, an Army officer, was transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco where I was influenced by The City's great Art Deco tradition. Several years later, as a sailor in the US Navy, I was stationed in Brooklyn, NY where I soaked up many sights including the twin Art Deco shrines, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.
ADSC: What is your design process?
JS: I try to bring a different Art Deco "branch" to each of my projects. Decomatic has the number three element going on and also utilizes the winged element. It also mixes up chrome and wood in the Art Deco tradition of using dissimilar materials.
DECOmputer uses sand cast aluminum and Bakelite as dissimilar materials. I also used period accessories such as a Machine Age/Art Deco brooch for the front emblem and a Bakelite gauge that actually works.
G-metric Nano is my tribute to the geometric designs found in much Art Deco. This one was influenced by an old Max Factor cosmetic case design.
Skyscraper was a lot of fun to build and its Art Deco influences are obvious. Pico Bayard was also influenced by the skyscraper style with a little French Art Deco influence as well.
Today, younger people know my work as "Bioshock-style" after the hugely popular Art Deco-styled computer game by the same name. They are not aware of Art Deco but seem to be appreciative of its great style. The game has brought a lot of new fans to the genre and that's never bad.
I'm looking forward to traveling back home to San Francisco and sharing my work and vision with other fans of the style.
ADSC: Are these pieces for sale?
JS: They are for sale but so far no one has ever offered me anything near what they are worth. These things take hundreds of hours to design and build. I'm just not going to give them away.
All of Jeffrey's work can be found on his website www.slipperyskip.com
Meet Jeffrey in person at the Exploratorium, February 11, 12 and 13 for the "Rods & Mods" show. You can see his work and meet like minded computer customizers.