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Bob Gillis, owner of Shelter Systems and inventor of the Grip Clip™ tarp and tent fastener, has a long history of design in the tent industry, licensing tents to The North Face, Sierra Designs, Mountain Hardware, Marmot, and others. He has been granted 18 U.S. patents, from structural concepts to the molded clips used in the construction of Shelter Systems’ dome, yurt, tent, and greenhouse structures.

Bob revolutionized the tent industry in 1976 by designing the first geodesic backpacking tent, the Oval Intention, using tensegrity design principles. Almost all of the backpacking tents using flexed poles that you see on the market are covered by Bob Gillis’ patents.

Click here for a letter introducing you to Bob and his work from his sister Bonnie.

Shelter Systems Tensegrity Tents at MOMA 2012

Four old tensegrity models and one 1975 tensegrity tent to show the evolution from Fuller to Tony Pugh to me to the North Face to you.

1) The model below shows an example of a tensegrity model design that Fuller developed. It has tendons outside the poles.

2) The “basket weave tensegrity” model below is a form that I learned to make from Tony Pugh who was hired by Fuller at the design department at Southern Illinois University that he headed and I was a student in 1972-1974. It has tendons outside the poles like the one above.

3) The model below shows my breakthrough to a new family of tensegrity with tendons on the inside of the poles. I used this concept to make tents for about 2 years.

4) Below is an old model with bent brass “poles” that I “repaired” by adding new rubber bands (the old ones rotted) (this is the structure that i used in the oval) and shows my second tensegrity brakethrough where “multiple external flexed poles are slid-ably joined to an inner flexible net”.

5) The rubber bands on the above model are replaced with fabric on the tensegrity tent below.

From here the NF made a production model below shown at SF MOMA 2012

Below is a model I made using coat hangers bent nails and cloth shown at MOMA 2012

Some text from the MOMA show.

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