John Kostick

U.S.A. (1942)
Inspiration struck for John Kostick when he attended a lecture by Buckminster Fuller in 1962. Kostick, a physics student at Brandeis University at the time, realized he could illustrate and explore sophisticated mathematical concepts in a straightforward way by building models. He was particularly interested in tensegrity, or tensional integrity, the principle of combined compression and tension giving a structure 3-D form. The exploration of “mathematically interesting forms and innovative and effective ways to build them” has motivated him ever since.

After college, Kostick worked out of a storefront studio in Roxbury, Massachusetts, making furniture and developing his original designs, including the mathematical “models” that would become his Foldable Stars. Kostick began making Foldable Stars in 1965 and was granted a patent for them in 1970. The appeal of the stars continues to lie not only in their aesthetics but also in their tactile and interactive qualities. He found it “rewarding to make and sell novel objects with math and science content, expressed through handiwork and artisan skills.” And fortunately for Kostick, “the development of handmade, original design products intended to be affordable was very much in and of the spirit of the times.” By 1968 the process for making Foldable Stars was in place and has remained virtually the same since.

Over the years, Kostick has put his accumulated skills and design talents to work on custom residential building and remodeling, and in the mid-’70s he became interested in sustainable agriculture and environmental activism, complements to his creative credo of “do more with less.” In the early ’90s, Kostick developed a program called STARS (Structural Transformations: Art Relating to Science) and presented it for the Philomorphs, a lecture series at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

It was at a geometry lecture at Harvard in 1993 that Kostick met his wife, Jane, a woodworking artist and furniture maker herself. Together they continued home remodeling, with Jane focusing on custom cabinetry. After starting their own business, KO Sticks, they made the shift to working for themselves full-time as designers with a shared passion for what Kostick calls “mathematical truths that you can hold in your hand.” They continue to produce some of his early designs from the mid-’60s, as well as a range of magnetic puzzles and fine woodwork pieces based on the geometry that has inspired Kostick since his student days. KO Sticks is based out of the Kosticks home studio in Medford, Massachusetts.
John Kostick
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