As promised, here are five projects that are not only interesting and great visually, but that are also fascinating in terms of the ideas behind them or their production methods. This prjkt dump exhibit includes five completely different projects by five wildly different designers. Three of them are here because they are brilliant and important ongoing investigations in production methods with really fabulous results. The other two are outstanding bits of architecture--one commercial, the other a pavilion--that I'm dying to share. And I'm not alone; these projects have been featured on just about every blog out there in recent weeks. So here is a little snippet on why I think they are so awesome, and so popular.
Eric Klarenbeek: Mycelium Chair
Designer Eric Klarenbeek revealed the Mycelium Chair as part of Dutch Design Week, and it is a brilliant study in the future of 3D printing. (Don't roll your eyes just yet; this is 3D printing like you've never seen it.) Klarenbeek has been working with scientists to combine 3D printing tech with living organisms. The study result is the Mycelium Chair, which isn't quite an object so much as it is a complex, living embodiment of one potential sustainable future for this technology. The chair is made of a bioplastic shell around a printed core structure composed of water, powdered straw and mycelium--the underground filament life structure of mushrooms. Over time the mycelium grows into the structure, replacing the water throughout and lending a lightweight durability to the object. Eventually this technique could take on any number of applications: Klarenbeek says, "This chair is really a metaphor for what could be made with this technique of 3D printing a living organism and then have it grow further. It could be a table, a whole interior or even a house. We could build a house with it." The mushrooms on the Mycelium Chair were purely decorative, a way to enrich the visual metaphor with some super awesome photos. [dezeen]
Great Things to People: Catenary Pottery Printer
I really can't get over this Chilean group, because I think their work is fascinating. In their own words, they are "in a continuous process of research and experimentation in digital crafting, promoting new encounters between the technologies for projecting and the richness of the local expressed in traditional materials and techniques." Short version: they push the field of parametric design by beginning with it and then forcing it to become analogue again by using traditional Chilean crafting methods. This project, Catenary Pottery Printer, began with a parametric approach that was directly translated into an analogue apparatus, where the parameters--"gravity, fluid weight, fabric tensions, size and material, position and number of anchor points in XYZ, horizontal limit to get a flat bottom, slipcasting volumes, dry times, pottery viscosity, type of potteries (ceramic, gres, porcelain, etc.), water quantity, thickness of shell, &c"--occur in real time and produce wholly unique individual products, each a part of the process-based investigation. The 'printing' apparatus can be seen in the pictures and the technique in this video. They also discuss the potential for this project, where these gorgeous and elegant pieces grow up into whole furniture items. I'm very excited about this group and this project, and cannot wait to buy some (which is not yet an option, sadly). Here is their facebook link as well.
Underneath the pretty, fun, whimsical qualities of this pavilion is an extremely interesting intellectual ground work that pulls many different ideas and elements into this elegant project. FABRIC was commissioned to put a pavilion in this public Renaissance garden, which set them the challenge of interfering with a tight, rigorous geometric context, which they knowingly incorporated into their design. In part this incorporation led to rethinking 'pavilion' as an object and stretched into a wide spatial generator. Here's a blurb: "This new understanding of space provided by questioning strict order in the garden design and give way to ambivalence and hybridity is a ‘ blurring strategy’. This strategy addresses three independent paradoxes by provoking the notions inside and outside, by introducing a maze that is paradoxically transparent and by creating an illusion of motion." [archdaily] These three threads are carried by the fence, which not only gives these ideas a legit formulation but is also super pretty. The name Trylletromler comes from the word for Zoetrope, the object that brings 2D images to life, and exploits the circular plan and the fence's moiré effect to further enrich the project. I do wish that the pavilion was wider and denser, to further enhance the idea of a transparent (or pseudo-transparent) maze, but in their defense they were given a strict budget. The Fence is constructed with untreated Nordic timber, and I am also impressed by its [perhaps unforeseen] ability to evoke an idea of stretched gossamer or lace in certain photos. Speaking of photos, I'm a little stricken by how the pavilion reads as a horizontal space when seen, for example, in photos that incorporate the adjacent tree line. Obviously I love every part of this project; check out more photos here.
3Gatti: D2C Flagship Store
3Gatti's flagship store for D2C is here firstly because I love it and think it is fun and amazing and is a fully realized design; secondly, because everyone seems to care more about how the bathroom is a rotating circle and somehow includes a secret "love nest"--but come the fuck on, this project is brilliant and let me tell you why. The concept sketch shows a solid slab with projecting volumes suspended in a space, and the built version is really as simple as that. The ceiling of the lower floor (and spatial dividers, and booths) and the floor of the upper floor (and pedestals and steps) is made by this stark white solid matrix of projecting orthogonal volumes that serve every spatial function required. The floor of the ground floor, the walls, the stairwell, and the ceiling-scape of the upper floor is dark, gorgeous, charcoal grey concrete. The architects say they wanted to invoke a volcanic atmosphere. They say volcano, I see glacier, but who cares...it's all geological, and this field of suspended volumes, both as a diagram and as a three dimensional space pulls it off perfectly. In certain areas, the concrete floor rises up to form separations or pedestals and the concrete ceiling for the upper floor looks like it has been slowly worn away in really nice subtle slopes. Scattered spotlights in the concrete highlight the outrageously dynamic defining white volumes, which on more than one occasion come all the way down to form a space but refrain from touching the ground, instead hovering just above it. Moments like that are what make a project so ridiculous and I love them. 3Gatti is also an interesting firm that I've sadly only just now discovered, and their work has a nice spectrum.
This project is probably my least favorite of the bunch--sorry to put it last--but I think it is interesting as an investigation in production methods and though it feels incomplete, its incompleteness enhances the richness and dialogue of the early projects in this post. SO-IL designed this pavilion for China's architecture biennale 2013. It is comprised of metal mesh cones projected up from a plane that hovers over the ground. What is interesting about it is its fabrication: each cone is a single sheet of steel with the form-bearing patter cut into it. As I am a sucker for coding form and assembly into basic pieces, making the project simultaneously high tech and low tech, I was taken by this pavilion once I found out how it was made. More photos (and a less than stunning write up) can be found here.