Digital decor – create your own homewares with 3D printing

Will handmade become a thing of the past?

Is the latest technology in 3D digital printing set to change the way we live?

It’s not only medicine that’s taking leaps and bounds in technology to change the way we produce objects to exact specifications. 3D printing has made a splash in architecture, with possibilities for solutions to homelessness worldwide and an entire house produced on-site at Milan design fair this year by architect Massimiliano Locatelli.

On a smaller scale, 3D printed objects are beginning to pop up in homewares too, as artists and designers explore the possibilities of this technology and begin to embrace its possibilities. 

One such design company is Spanish company Nagami, who specialises in working with the latest technologies in design and who, in collaboration with Zaha Hadid Architects produced the Bow Chair, also launched at Milan this year.

Closer to home designers Bernabei Freeman, who champion sustainability in design and are celebrated for their cutting-edge aesthetic and brave use of mixed materials to create everything from lighting to outdoor furniture. Their latest project is centred around 3D printing of vessels in clay – a collaboration with University of NSW Built Environment program.

It’s not a fast process, but it’s one gaining in popularity as the possibilities for mass production of complex designs are attractive, with even IKEA dabbling in the technology a couple of years ago.

“We are at the beginning of a revolution in manufacturing,” industrial designer Tom Dixon told The Australian back in 2015. “3D printing is only one weapon in the designers’ new-found arsenal that is going to change our relationship with the made world. At the moment, it’s only partly interesting, because [its products are] mainly plastic, but as soon as 3D printing does metal, stone and glass, we will be using it to manufacture.”

Whilst the technology continues to advance, there remains an old school vs new school divide, with many designers preferring to create with raw materials using their hands but, where industrial designers have been used to using software and digital technology to create their designs before production, printing them using 3D technology is a natural step.

Will these technologies overtake the handmade objects and furnishings currently enjoying a resurgence in our homes? Not according to Lucy Johnston, who’s book Digital Handmade compares the technological advancements to those of the industrial revolution but feels it will simply offer more options for production, rather than alternatives. “Today’s digital technologies have given rise to entirely new working methods, skill sets and consumer products that don’t eliminate but enrich traditional hand techniques,” she argues. 

Watch this space.


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