Future Manufacturing: Joris Laarman Breaks New Frontiers in 3D Printed Design
Earlier this year, Friedman Benda presented a survey of Dutch designer Joris Laarman’s research into digital manufacturing. Shown in the gallery’s mega-booth at Design Miami / Basel, the retrospective showcased large-scale drawings by Laarman that pushed the boundaries of form and material.
In 2004, Laarman launched a laboratory as “an experimental playground for studying and shaping the future”. A graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven the year before, the designer’s first notable work came in the form of a decorative radiator that challenged more traditional utilitarian designs.
Over the past decade and so, Laarman’s work has developed into an ongoing exploration of form, material, and technique, and his lab has overcome engineering obstacles and crossed new frontiers in the making. Its working method consists of developing large series and collections, each taking up to six years to design and manufacture in-house. What characterizes Laarman’s vast body of work are the subtle organic forms of his pieces, both decorative and functional, ranging from tables and seats to partitions and dividers.
The fabrication of the âDragon Benchâ, a sculptural gravity-defying net created with the MX3D metal printer recently developed by the laboratory
âI don’t prefer to work in a specific material,â explains the designer, whose work seamlessly integrates experiences in metal, wood, resin and marble, among other materials. âEvery design requires an approach in the material that works best. It could be a wide variety of materials, including materials that were not there before. But even using traditional materials, Laarman’s approach is radical: using a combination of 3D printing and welding, for example, he created his series “Microstructures”, intricate 3D printed chairs covered in copper for more resistance.
His âdragon bench,â a sculptural gravity-defying net, was created with a new invention recently developed by the lab, a next-generation metal printer. âIn 2014, we created a new company called MX3D which focuses on robotic printing on metal,â says Laarman. âThe sculptural works that I create with these machines also function as technical research. Thanks to this new technique, Laarman and his team were able to print with metals such as steel, stainless steel, aluminum, bronze or copper, resulting in lightweight structures that do not require support.
Engineer at work on Laarman’s “strange attraction lamp”
The same technique will be crucial for Laarman and his team’s next operation: a 3D printed walkway built over one of Amsterdam’s oldest canals, fully functional and built entirely by robots. âOver the past few decades, the transition from analog to digital has revolutionized many areas, but digital technology is also starting to define an evolution in the way we manufacture, distribute and recycle products,â he notes. . âInspired by industrial manufacturing methods emerging at the turn of the 20th century, modernist pioneers appreciated and changed the aesthetic of design. Today, the new field of digital manufacturing is changing our current conception of design and pushing artists to explore the endless new possibilities of digital manufacturing. ‘