FOUNDER DAVID FREDRICKSON'S

Top 10 Figure Plant Projects from the last 25 Years

September 7, 2023
David Fredrickson

Twenty-five years in business. A quarter century of custom fabrication. Now encompassing almost half of my lifetime. I founded Figure Plant after leaving my last full-time employment at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon and setting off on my own in a self-made, 200 square ft. garage shop. Interrupted only by a brief stint in the feature film industry, the beginnings of Figure Plant were humble in scale, but unwavering in a commitment to creativity, collaboration and building a supportive culture–core values that are still at the heart of Figure Plant today.

From miniature to massive in scale, Figure Plant’s projects run the gamut of not only size but market sector, client type, usage, materials, and longevity. From custom 3D props or display elements built for a weekend-long corporate event to seasonal retail environments to furnishings and permanent installations built to last a lifetime, the FP team gives life to innovative design concepts through mad respect for creative vision and utmost accountability to timeline and budget.

With so many interesting design/fabrication challenges, looking back over the last two-and-a-half decades at the variety of projects and trying to choose the top 10 is no easy task. Identifying the criteria for “best” or “favorite” is the toughest part. Largest obstacles? Excited clients? Epic outcomes? The list of potential categories is endless. Certainly having a client relationship that spans more than a decade ranks pretty high. Other times, it’s just the sheer intrigue of a project that seems utterly impossible at first. But here we go, in no particular order, my top 10 projects over the history of Figure Plant and the behind-the-scenes reasonings for how it made the cut.

RIVENDELL WEDDING  

Making dreams come true, employing dozens of creative fabricators and hard-working laborers, and pulling off the vision of a magical event paradise that seemed impossible gives this project a firm spot on the top 10. Built for an outdoor wedding in April, on a muddy hillside, 1/4-mile away from the nearest road, and in an ecologically sensitive environment, the deck seemed stacked against us. It’s just those types of constraints that get us fired up. Where other teams would have said no way, the Figure Plant team rose to the challenge and made magic happen. Learn More >

NIKE FOUNDATION's GIRL EFFECT

It’s not everyday we get the opportunity to help improve the lives of young girls in faraway places that face seemingly insurmountable odds. The Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” program relied on the commitment and innovations of its top corporate leaders who needed to know what a day in the life of these people really feels like. Rather than send them all to Kibera, one of the most pronounced slums in Kenya, we created a hyper-realistic experiential environment replicating Kibera in the Tiger Woods building in Beaverton, Oregon. Learn More >

HISPANO

Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Chairman Emeritus Jules Huemann, world-renowned expert on the Hispano Suiza, took on the highly ambitious project of resurrecting the last remaining original Hispano Suiza Labourdette Skiff. We received the all-wood body in pieces with dry rot, cracks, missing chunks, and more and set to work in a painstaking restoration and repair process. Meticulously hand-crafted components included glove boxes, dash bezels, tool boxes, running boards, and a complete hood assembly. From shambles to award-winning in 2 years thanks to a great partnership and top-notch craftsmanship. Learn More >

DESCHUTES PUBLIC LIBRARY PROJECT (In Progress)

Design consultation with design firm +&>, architects Miller Hull, and Construction Managers at Redpoint, coupled with the fabrication and installation of Early Childhood Learning environments for 7 libraries in Deschutes County, marks a shift for Figure Plant. The combination of custom cabinetry complete with “squircle” corner details, high-tech electronics and battery-powered interactive learning tools, with 3D printed and upholstered play furniture, means no discipline was untouched on this project. Made possible by a bond measure passed by Central Oregon residents and built to last for decades, the creation of these custom interactive environments designed to enrich young readers fills our souls.

PROJECT PABST

I mean come on, how could I not include this hand-sculpted 23-foot tall silver unicorn with color-changing horn off the list? 5-axis CNC milling of low density foam coupled with hand sculpting, steel skeletal armature, and custom painting. Engineered and stamped to withstand 150 MPH wind gusts at the annual Project Pabst MusicfestNW, Pepper was an Instagram moment that almost broke the internet! Learn More >

HARDLY STRICTLY TURNTABLE

As Figure Plant has grown, my original role as principal fabricator has changed completely, and it is rare at best that I get to step back from the computer screen and get back into the shop. Harkening back to our company’s roots in San Francisco, we repeatedly collaborated for with the late Claude Shade on the infamous posters for the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. On a completely different end of the spectrum from the incredibly detailed Hispano project was this small-scale prop built from found bits and reclaimed wood. Makes the list for me due to the low cost of materials, creative collaboration, and contributing to a fantastic (free) music festival.

FLYBOY

Thanks to the amazingly talented team at Iron Bloom Productions, we were given the opportunity  to help create a 3-dimensional experience of the made-up world of Flyboy and Lil Mama at artist Hebru Brantley’s Nevermore Park in Chicago. Part neon graveyard, part Meow Wolf, this Afro-futuristic, immersive experience tells a 3D narrative of Brantley’s iconic characters. Learn More >

BENEFIT HISTORY WALL

Custom 3D story telling of an American success story that warms the heart. Not only a compelling and colorfully detailed historical dimensional display, but also helped create a relationship with our client, Benefit Cosmetics, that has spanned decades. Learn More >

BROOKS BUS

From sourcing a British double decker bus in Ireland to final rollout about 10 weeks later. Complete with a tongue-in-cheek, interactive “hall of oddities” display downstairs and eye-popping vehicle graphics to a massive mechanical, chain-driven convertible roof to make room for Brooks Runnings’ unique sales platform on the upper deck, Though it may have added a few gray hairs, this project landed us in our 30,000 square foot fabrication facility in Portland and stretched engineering and custom-fabrication muscles that we didn’t even know we had! Learn More >

CHICK-FIL-A PROPS

Highly detailed, custom-fabricated props, underwater rigging, dive tanks, wave pools, wind machines, plus a crash course in scuba diving, all shot on a Hollywood back lot. So much fun!

SPACE CHICKEN

Honestly, the initial phone call that we answered and the competition we beat says it all. “We are working to establish a foothold for Soy Vay in the sauce capitol of the world, the Southeastern US. To do so, we’re planning a promotional stunt to cook chicken in space. Talks with NASA engineers are underway, but you’re a trusted partner and we wanted to see if you could pull it off.” And we did. So we like to say we beat out NASA on a space mission. Learn More >

With many more memorable project over the years, and so many great moments of collaboration with agencies, designers, and more. The best part remains, bringing these great ideas to life. Here's to the next 25!

- David Fredrickson, Figure Plant Owner/Founder

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