It’s amazing what can be done with robots and 3D printing. A new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston explores some of the innovations of this nascent industry as developed by the Joris Laarman Lab. Their products incorporate “design, technology, science and art.”
Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age opened Sunday, June 24. Coming into contact with modern chairs, tables, bridges and other inventive designs only makes one wonder how long until our day to day interactions on the internet are replaced as we abandon Facebook and Instagram and embrace printing furniture and hand held artifacts via household 3D printers and robots.
“Truth is in the detail,” maintains Laarman, who was present at the media preview of the exhibit, along with his partner, filmmaker Anita Star, whose videos depicting the making of the various items on display occupy the various walls of the show.
Hold on: A couple of the Makerchairs (“an iconic design from Danish designer Verner Panton”) on exhibit are now available to be printed for free from the website: www.bitsandparts.org.
One merely has to have a 3D printer, or the website will locate such a resource nearest to your zip code. The Kids Puzzle Chair P39 can either be downloaded or printed at cost at a local hub. The chair consists of 39 puzzle pieces that are executed by 3D printers or CNC milling machines, which are industrial versions of home units.
The exhibit displays include Rococo voxel tables, which translates as volumetric pixels printed out to resemble a table. The smaller the units, the sharper the resolution of the table. This particular table was inspired by the game Super Mario Brothers. At first, that computer game was 8-bytes and then became more defined over time until Mario looked realistic and not composed of blocks. Likewise, the three tables in this gallery are composed of different sized metallic blocks (“measuring 10, 5 and 3 mm”).
Bone chairs are made with robotic arms that were first used to replicate replacement bones in operations. The chairs and rockers are stripped away of useless mass to reveal a structure that literally looks like a bunch of bones joined together. A bridge table both resembles a bridge and has a smooth surface that never has to be polished due to its aluminum tungsten carbide surface.
A high tech development of Laarman’s Lab called MX3D uses a “rapid curing synthetic resin” that literally dries as it is applied, allowing the robotic arm to draw the image.
Another mind-blowing piece of functional design is a bioluminescent light. The lamp uses “luciferase,” which is an enzyme derived from fireflies, which create illumination. This effect was created by mixing the luciferase with “Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells that have been genetically modified.” The poly-active film coats the lampshade and provides light. The lamp illustrates the “relationship between humans and other living beings.”
When you walk into the exhibit, you are confronted by a wall-sized photo blow-up of Laarman’s workshop where images of both Laarman and Star are duplicated in the same frame to suggest they do the work of two people at all times.
Joris Laarman Lab: Design in the Digital Age will be on display until September 16.