iDOME SHELTERS Kickstarter campaign launched by local entrepreneur Dags Madrigal 


The worst thing you could ever say to longtime Laguna resident Darren “Dags” Madrigal, is to call his iDOME SHELTER a tent – it’s like comparing a trailer to the Taj Mahal.

The iDOME SHELTER is not a flimsy tent nor is it permanent, although it’s substantial enough to feel that way. It is an innovative hybrid dwelling that offers fun, functionally, and most importantly, will last a lifetime, according to Madrigal. The iDOME SHELTER is like nothing else currently on the market. 

Dags and his partners are also on a mission to create Earth-friendly products. 

“Sustainable materials and reusability of our products is paramount,” says Madrigal. 

The geodesic dome structure can be set up in minutes, offers 91 square ft of living with a 9-ft head space, 18-inch BIG stakes, the floor is made of PVC, it has a 5” border to keep out water, and the frame can hold up to 1,000 lbs, supporting hammocks and supplies to keep them off the ground. 


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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Dags Madrigal

The iDOME SHELTERS Kickstarter campaign is now underway and will be live for 21 more days, offering over 40 percent discounts on the products. Madrigal explains that Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform in which entrepreneurs pitch ideas to the general public, hoping they’ll buy the product – in a sense pre-booking it – which helps pay for production.

“It’s like a blog feed,” explains Madrigal. “It started on Sunday, Nov 15. This is very exciting. It will put our brand on the map and raise awareness.”

Potential buyers became aware of the campaign through a sweepstakes on the iDOME website and due to the response, Madrigal says they have acquired over 7,000 emails and more through social media.

He readily admits that he’s not the only brain of the operation. With help from his good friend Mike Aho in Austin, Texas, and local creative Warren Ellison of Studio Misfits, together they run his acquisition campaign and position the brand. “I give them my ideas and content, and they creatively run with it.”


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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Dags demonstrating the strength of the structure

The iDOME has already attracted interest. “Whenever I set one up at Aliso Creek Beach, TOW Park, or other locations, people stop by and ask me what it is and then lay in the hammocks.” 

There’s no doubt that it’s a pathway to fun, but with the support of outdoor enthusiasts across the globe, it’s also an avenue to a larger humanitarian application for the entire world. 

Madrigal’s vision is that by using the iDOME SHELTER as a way to make memories – at the beach, camping, music festivals, or a variety of experiences – it will lead to its larger humanitarian use during natural disasters. With the recent incidences of fires here in California, it is clear the planet is changing. 

“The shelters could potentially house a family for a short period of time until permanent housing is available,” he says. “They could be used by FEMA, Red Cross, UNICEF, or Doctors Without Borders, for example.”


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Submitted photo

(L-R) Dags, Steve Miller, and Eli Elliott (before pandemic)

Ten years ago, Madrigal was introduced to the shelter concept when he met locals Steve Miller and Eli Elliott, both long-serving environmental activists. 

Miller met Elliott early in 2004 “on the street” across from mutual good friend and activist Mike Beanan. Miller’s invention is a cool and unique twist to the geodesic dome structure, which is one of the strongest in the world. 

Madrigal says, “The frame is Steve’s design, and, at that point, they had three patents already, but it was in a raw stage.” 

Once Madrigal saw the concept, he knew it had big potential. Madrigal eventually bought into the patents and then acquired the global license which gave him complete creative control to use his own ideas. At that point, the concept made a generational leap which became the iDOME SHELTER. With the help of local CAD designer Bernard Lightner, Madrigal made additional parts with his own money and time, improving its design. 

iDOME SHELTER Dags and Eli

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Dags and Eli taking advantage of the hammocks

Although some parts are made in the U.S., the biggest challenge was finding a manufacturer. Through Mark Machado, a representative of a giant tent factory overseas, Madrigal was able to find a trustworthy manufacturer.

The design of the iDOME SHELTER is based on Bucky Fuller’s groundbreaking geodesic dome idea – a hemispherical thin-shell structure. The triangular elements of the dome are structurally rigid and distribute the structural stress throughout the structure, making geodesic domes able to withstand very heavy loads and strong winds.

The iDOME SHELTER has a floor made of PVC, water will not get in, and the floor zips off for easy cleaning. “Our product is built strong and built to last. We have integrated steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber parts into our design,” says Madrigal. “Our bags and covers are built with durable fabrics and are double and triple stitched. One of our primary goals was to build solid dependable product.”


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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Eli Elliott

Madrigal has been in the action sports industry for 25 years as a sales representative for Volcom, a brand known for some of the best marketing in the industry. “To launch a brand, you need to tell a story and the message has to be clear.”

His message couldn’t be clearer: Phase I – success with this product as a recreational entity that will eventually lead to what was his original intention; Phase II – to use it for humanitarian purposes, in natural disasters, which was Miller and Elliott’s original goal as well.

Throughout his 10-year endeavor, Madrigal has been supported by his family – wife Kathe, 21-year-old son Dante, and daughter Tomiah, a junior at  Laguna Beach High School.

Now that the Kickstarter Campaign has launched, Madrigal is closer to his vision, which is “to make the world a safer place, one shelter at a time.” 

For more information about the iDOME SHELTER, click here.

To contribute to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.