Welcome  to SpaceShaping.net; a blog site to follow the creative career of Niko Mantele.  I use a variety of mixed media and light systems to create stunning and magical special event environments and permanent art installations.  I am honored to work with a small team of skilled craftspeople and technicians.  Together we are SpaceShaping.net… where the possibilities are possible and creativity takes organized form.


January 12th, 2014

Yet another year of the Burning Man festival is complete and what a grand year it was.  After 14 years of attending and participating in this landmark event it still never ceases to engage my creative spark to the fullest level.   So much energy and efforts from oh so many people came together to create this beast of a camp called Fractal Planet for the 2013 go round of Fractal Nation.

(Here is a link the video where I grabbed this image.  Scan 2 mins and check out Fractal from droves view.)

After participating with Fractal for the last 2 years of the burn it was truly a blessing to be given the opportunity to initially conceive this colossal shade structure called the Seed Pod.   With guidance from some serious players it was time to get to work.   The scale of the project was daunting, create a dance floor for 4 to 5 thousand people.   I decided to look at what has worked for myself and other time and time again and base the structure off the seed of life geometry.  It was time to go to work sorting this out at the drawing board (Sketch Up).

This was generally familiar territory for me except for one very large difference, we would be making the fabric elements from commercial flame safe shade cloth instead of stretch fabric .  As well I had never worked on something of this scale in the desert wind conditions before.  Shade cloth is very a different material to work with  for shade than than the more commonly used Lycra stretch fabric.  Shade cloth does not stretch much at all making it a very rigid fabric to work with(aka unforgiving).  I chose to switch to the rigid shade cloth for many reasons.  Mainly because it has a stop point to where the fabric pulls to as opposed to stretch fabric that just keeps stretching.  This stop point in the rigid material allows for the fabric in the panels to be very stiff and not billow under wind load.   This allows the creation of large panels at the burn feasible where high wind loads will most certainly be pressing on the systems.  Another great quality of shade cloth is it’s UV safe and does not break down in the sun.   Lycra (Spandex/Poly) stretch fabric starts relaxing within several days of exposure as the sun goes to work on eating away at the Spandex in the fiber.  Shade cloth has a estimated 10 year life in direct sun (and is puncture resistant) making it a much environmentally safe fabric to consider because of its ability to be used and re-used over and over (Lycra shade systems are often disposed of within 2 or 3 festival uses).  I was so happy Fractal agreed with me on this point and I was given the go ahead (thanks for your trust Fractal).

Once the initial concept of working with shade cloth and sacred G was sorted out it was time to integrate with a true master at his craft Francois Boudson of Boom festival.   This guy is the cream of the crop in way of artistic and functional festival rigging.  From here out the design and build of the Seed Pod shade system was a collaboration.   Francois took the lead on building, supervising and guiding all the rigging for the structure including the cable super structure and composite bamboo support towers.   I tell ya, this guy is a freakin’ machine and his experiences with very large systems was invaluable in the equation.

Now that we had drawings and approval sorted it was time to get to work on pre-building the fabric panels on my end and composite towers and cable ways on Francois end.   It was time to put the new Space Shaping facility in San Fransisco to the test!  Creating these fabric panels was a big job that required big space and a good thing we had it.   With fabric ordered and precession calculations made the panels where cut and then sewn on industrial machines.

After several weeks of prepping for the event and making adjustments with Francois it was time to head onto playa.   From there we each did out part.  He setup the towers and cable super structure and I followed with all 30 of the massive fabric panels.    After we where setup Francois continued on to orchestrate the epic stage shade (like a said machine).  The sound came in with Team Infinity and put up a whompin F1 system that was amongst the top PA’s on the playa for 2013.


Fractal Planet was a huge success and held down a relatively solid dance-floor all week long.    From there the rest is history.

Contact us to to have the Seed Pod setup at your next event.  The panels are currently stored at our facility in SF.  Please serious inquiries only.


Electric Forrest Festival Rothburry Michigan 2013

April 24th, 2013

I was very honored to provide soft goods support for Carey Thompson at this year’s Electric Forrest Festival in Rothbury Michigan.  Cary designed several of these gorgeous portal entry facades that where placed throughout the event and subcontracted me to create the custom stretch panels.   The facades gave a sense of passing from one area into another and helped to make that clear distinction.

To create the fabric elements for this project I worked off of Carey’s 2D scaled digital drawing of the portals.  From the drawing I extracted the fabric sizes and cut out all the parts.  Each and every panel was a full seamless sheet of material.   Rigging tabs where added for finishing.  Panels where then delivered to Carey and loaded in the truck leaving to EFF.

I didn’t get the opportunity to make it to the event so panels had to pre-coded with layout marking for panel orientation and correct ordering.  Reports from the setup where all thumbs up with each and every panel fitting exactly to spec – not to tight and not to loose.

I am very thankful for this opportunity and hope to be involved in next year’s EFF, a truly legendary festival!

Space Shaping Fascility Moves to San Fransisco!

April 22nd, 2013

Guess the only thing that’s constant is change right?  Well that’s our theory anyhow.  We have picked up and packed the pieces that made our shop in Oregon tic and have now completed the enormous task of transplanting the Space Shaping facility to South San Fransisco!  After years of commuting south to gigs in Cali the time has come to shorten the trip.  We are settled into a super sexy spot with ultra high ceiling and tons of space for testing and creating new concepts.  We are very happy to share this spot with the US offices of PK Sound.    This new location puts us in the heart of west coast music culture!


Envision Festival – 2013 Uvita, Costa Rica

February 14th, 2013

The Space Shaping Crew and I had a great time providing large scale decorative shade systems for this years Envision Festival that happened in Uvita Costa Rica!  We where in charge of a total of 4 areas of shade coverage and provided Carey Thompson with precession stretch panels for the main stage bamboo projection array.  This was my 3rd time working Envision and it was by far the best the fest has ever been!

Two of the shade area we created where made from hi end shade cloth not stretch fabric.  This is a new upgrade for Space Shaping and we are very excited to be offering these new panels as an alternative to stretch fabric.   These panels provide a 80% sun block and are semi wind transparent (a superior option for events looking for substantial and reliable shade even in the toughest conditions).   This picture shows the poppin bar stage shade made from 4 large right triangles that together form into a shade square.  It’s mounted up on bamboo verticals tensioned back with cable ways.

Our next project on the large list of to do’s for Envision was to create custom sized stretch fabric panels for  Carey Thompson facade setup on the main stage.  The main function of the panels was to be decorative surfaces that got projection mapped onto by Lucid Technology Design.  The panels where stacked and layered with about 50 cm inbetween each layer.  This gave a dramatic dimension effect once the projectors cast their powerful light onto the screen.

To create this I worked from a 2d digital drawing provided by Carey and translated it into these stretch panels.   Panels where manufactured state side and then flew down with us so accuracy was especially important.  Everything fit snug and went up in a remarkable 2 hour time window setup up by a volunteer and I (that is the fabric part only, not the bamboo structure).

At the very center of this surreal stage we built a huge rear surface projection screen under the watchful eye of the Jonathan Singer.   As always Jonathan is a pleasure to work for.  This guys know his stuff and keeps a great energy going to entire time.  The screen was also created state side to fit a rigid bamboo frame by slipping on with pule insert sleeves.  The screen worked really well minus a few little bends in the bamboo that created some curving on the edge it looked perfect.   Jonathan proceeded to shoot his dreamy images onto the screen lighting up such acts as Eoto (show in picture) and many more

The other 2 shade structures I setup where made from high quality 4 way stretch fabric.   We up cycled the stretch panels from the Pyramid at Symbiosis Pyramid Lake to make these to strucutres!  It’s a little crazy to belive but the panels where not modified at all, just setup ina difrfeernt way.  The first structure was made from 4 of the very large panels and the second structure was made from 8 medium panels.  Both structures where mounted up on bamboo verticals tensioned back with cable ways.   All together these 2 shade structures will provided the event with more than 3,200 sq ft of luxurious and decorative shade!

It was a fantastic experience working with the entire crew of the Envision Festival.    The overall smoothness of the event was even better than the year brofore so evolution is being serverd for sure, alwyas a good sign.  Thanks Envision for a wonderful experience and I wish you all the best in 2014 as Space Shaping will be taking a much needed Envsision break this year.  But by all means poele get out this year if you have the means.  It’s going to be remarkable!

Fractal Nation @ Burning Man 2012 Compete!

September 17th, 2012

A sincere and humble thanks to everyone involved in creating Fractal Nation camp in Black Rock City at this years Burning Man Festival.  Space Shaping crew had the pleasure of working with some of communities finest.  On either side of the dance floor stood an art dome.  Welcoming burners was the first dome organized by Tribe 13 Gallery  featuring art by Android Jones and many fine others.  In the middle as you flowed onto the dance floor you found the GeoPod by SpaceShaping.net. The spherical geodesic enclosure acted as a sealed and temperature controlled front of house video and light control booth.  Intersecting the Geopod was a shade cover created by Guild Works.  At the front of the dance floor was a bamboo facade by Carey Thompson that we had the pleasure of co-creating by adding the bordered stretch fabric panels into.   Covering the stages where 2 SaddleSpan tents that we installed custom video screens inside of.   Next as you passed the dance floor you wound your way into the MAPS dome featuring the art work of Alex Grey  and a 2 story high circular second level.    All and all it was a vast experience for the public to interact with and was a made possible by the collaboration of so many smart workers.

I must be frank here.  Never before have I worked with such a crew/family of loving and sincere people.   My experience and the experience of my setup/strike crew was nothing short of magical.  Thank you Fractal Nation for setting a standard of chill yet firm coordination as we all held it down this year.

After what could perhaps have been my best burn to date (out of 13) I feel like I have certainly deepened my connection with this extended family of wonderful fractilian creatures.  My crew and I look forward to building incredible collaborations in the future and are tremendously grateful for the experience.



June 13th, 2012

The time is growing ever closer… time to get dusty at Burning Man 2012.   SpaceShaping.net crew is down to weather the element as we participate in this years FractalNation camp.  FractalNation provides a dynamic, full-sensory, art, music and performance destination with daytime and nighttime programming.   Details are still getting sorted, however rest assured this playa proven destination is gearing up for some big time magic!  Thanks you FractalNation for having SpaceShaping.net crew on board.  We are excited and ready to extend our skills with fabric as we integrate into this years remarkable experience

Symbiosis 2012 – Eclipse Stage Compete!

May 24th, 2012

Had a life changing time at this years Symbiosis Pyramid Eclipse.  We did the fabrics on the Eclipse main stage.  Fabrics where mounted from a 90′ by 90′ base by 57′ tall pyramid. Specialized fabric panels where created with cable through ways around perimeters and heavy gusseting on the corners to provide wind resistance like never before seen.  It all worked according to plan.  When the big winds came our products stayed snug in place.   As well we created massive 60′ by 30′ shade sails above the main stage.  This provided decor and shade above performers heads.  Thanks Symbiosis for all you do and the energy you poor into this.  Deep thanks and gratitude.


March 21st, 2012

After jump starting the season early with tropical festival Envision, we are happy to announce Symbiosis as our second event of the year. We will be weaving magical large scale fabric mandalas in order to breath beauty and intention into the glitch/future music/band stage. Working in harmony with some of the industries leading fabricators we will collectively manifest massive magic for all to participate in and enjoy. Won’t you join us at Symbiosis Pyramid Eclipse May 17th-21st in Pyramid Lake NV.


January 26th, 2012

Envision 2012 is now complete and this recap is being written from beach side in sunny Costa Rica as I reminisce in the afterglow of this magical event. Things got off to a slow start for the Space Shaping crew. A monster heat with elevated precipitation levels had us at a dead halt during the middle part of the day. We found ourselves waking up at 5:00am to start setup and have some work done before the inevitable heat wave swept us all into our off site air conditioned cabinas. We would continue setup at 4:30pm until sundown. The heat slowed everyone down but eventually this high energy event broke though. It has truly been a while since I have seen such a collection of yummness in one spot! The people, the art, the music, the decorations and the setting – all remarkable unto themselves. This years Envision Festival had all the right ingredients!

Evens like this is where SpaceShaping.net really shines. One of our multifaceted goals is to create deco pieces that make a large impact yet pack down small and travel light. This was the perfect opportunity for such a mission. We setup 2 installations at the event. Just as you walked in the gate to your left we setup the Hexa-Pod – a six sided tent / gathering space based off the flower of life on constructed of modular 3D spandex panels. On the path way between the 2 main zones of the event we setup 5 meter tall (15ft) 3D Spires each with 9 watt RGB LEDs inside! All the deco went up in 2 days (of half work because of the heat) and packed onto 3 50pound suitcases.

Envision has come and gone and now left a wonderful imprint on the hearts of many people. Thanks to all the people who made the gears tick on this one. You are all warriors and you pulled it off! Congratulations Envision crew! We will see you next year (ps we want to decorate our own stage next year).


Snow Globe – Happy New Years Eveyone!

December 19th, 2011

Glad to have been a part of Snow Globe 2011 New Years Monster Party in Tahoe.  This event was incredible and went totally off the hook.   SpaceShaping.net did deco on the Sierra stage 2.  We used our New Crystal Sires and a few of our Snow Flakes to transform this room into it’s own little Snow Globe Scene!  The Snow Globe Crew along with all members of Rythm EFX and AEG where a pleasure to work with.   My only complaint was that our Crystal Spires could have been integrated into the lighting plot a little better thus showing more of their form from the audience view.

Otherwise could not have thought of a better way to spend our integration into 2012.   This event  puts us one step closer to our goal of seeing our innovative Stretch Fabric Stage props at massive parties every weekend!   We look forward to rocking 2012 super hard!   Thanks Snow Globe!!!



Thanks V2 for a great time at Get Naughty 2011 in SLC

December 19th, 2011

Everything from start ot finish with V2 was impeccable.   Great communication and professional atmosphere all around – not to mention they know hot to throw a party!   We had a great time in SLC and brought the deco hard.  Got lots of great feedback from the public at the show.  We featured our new internally lit Crystal Spires, a 24  Snow Flake ceiling and a massive visual screen!  My brother Andrew Mataus come out and rocked the setup with me.  It always helps to have solid SpaceShaping.net crew in the mix.

It was a pleasure to work with Show Gear, a SLC based lighting crew.  They helped us with per-organizing scaff structures to rig our Crystal Spires from.   As well poppin’ light rig!

Thanks V2 for having us out.  We look forward to all the next events coming up in the future and have a steady stream of massive new ideas that will bring the vibe hard!

Oh and Porter Robinson was the hotness!

Temple of Boom – Right of Zion BRC 2011

September 30th, 2011

Had a great year at the burn working with Temple of Boom (TOB) to create the Rights of Zion stage.  We designed the GeoPod performance space specially for this event.  It was a geodesic sphere with internal wrap around table, temperature control and dust proof cover!  As well we did the 3D tension fabric Spires you see all around the stage.  It was incredible to work with these guys.  Thanks TOB for having us.


July 30th, 2011

We where very pleased to be involved with this incredible festival.  This was the first year of the Human Nature Festival (HN Fest)  to happen and a spirited start to what could be one of Oregons premier festival.    Thanks to HN Fest for allowing SpaceShaping.net to come out and shine in full force.  We where given the fredome to to really let it out on this one.  I think the pictures pretty much prove that.

We got to setup 2 stages at this show with lighting and tension fabric decorations.   For the main stage we got to bring out our huge 22′ diameter flowers with LED lighting systems!  Even though these are a byoch to setup they really are worth it.  Just stunning in beauty and size.  Now with the addition of Madrix we can have incredible control off the LED lights that power the flowers.

As well this as the premier of the new performance booth called the GeoPod.   It is a 12.5′ diameter geodesic sphere with an elivated 4′ tall performance platform inside.  The Pod was a huge hit and loved by the crown and the performer alike.  Next we will be taking the Pod to Burning Man to be featured at the Temple of Boom at 10:00 and Esplanade!  It will get a full cover made by Mandala Domes.    Then we will be installing air conditioning and LED lighting by AudioPixel.com.  But anyhow back to HN Fest….

Over all this event was remarkable.  Thanks HN fest for having us out.  We want to support you in bringing this festival back next year.

Ignite – April 29th – SF – Bass Camp – Opulent – Symbiosis

April 7th, 2011

SpaceShaping.net net is happy to be integrating into this premier event in the bay April 29th.   Featuring Stages from such groups as Bass Camp, Opulent Temple and Symbiosis Events.   We got the Temple of Boom room and will be featuring new custom temple stretch props to pop your minds eye and explode the energy all around.  Thanks Bass Camp for having us on!  We are gearing up and making preparations to be sure this stage moves all who participate!

Decor at Temple of Boom @ Burning Man 2010

September 14th, 2010

Well hello lovelies.  I am recently back from Burning Man making it my 11th year on the Playa.  I do believe it was my best year to date!

While at the burn I got the opportunity to interface with the Temple of  Boom and do decoration on their heady stage setup!  It was so fun to work with these folks including Mark the stage creator and Jeremy from V2 Ent.  What a great group of people!  And the music on this stage was god damn slammn.  I think Mimosa played my favorite set on the playa and just after him was RD to fallow it up with the quality glitch hop that I love so much!  If you all don’t know who RD is yet figure it out!

Anyhow back to biz.   We installed a total of 8 SkyDrop stretch tubes around Ian’s Res 5 Funktion One System in a claw type shape.  Grrrr.

Hey all great burn!


EmergNSee 2010 Complete! Deco & Lights by Yours Truly

July 26th, 2010

Thanks so much to all the lovelies that co-created this fantastic festival.  I look forward to this one the most every year.  Please enjoy these images of the  fantastic world we created using fabric, lights,  trussing and lost of hard work.  Images taken by Thaddeus Moore giddy@sproutcity.com

Esthetic Evolution 2010 Complete!

July 15th, 2010

It was another great year in…. Idaho!  Believe it or not this slammin party happens without a hitch each year outside of Boise Id.  People gather from near and far to make this, what some call, mini Burning Man.  These are shots of the main stage.  I am very happy with the look we came up with for this one.  Enjoy the pics!  Come next year

; )