Salone del Mobile Pushes Boundaries of Generative Design in 3D Print

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Milan is now hosting the 56th iteration of its yearly Salone del Mobile, a furniture fair writ large both celebrating the primacy of Milan in the furniture world and demonstrating clearly why it holds that position. A total of five events are being held simultaneously from April 4th to the 9th at the Fiera Milano exhibition center in Rho. The even is open only to the trade during the week but welcomes the public on the weekend. Anybody who is anybody in furniture and design, and quite a few who aren’t, will be milling around gazing at the eye candy on display in Milan at some point in the coming days.

The Italians are not tentative in their approach and operate under the Italian campaign slogan: “Design is a condition in itself. Milan is its capital.” President of the Salone del Mobile Milano Claudio Luti is keeping his eyes on the fair not only as a demonstration of the products of design, but as a mechanism for pushing the boundaries of creativity and take no small amount of pride in the event:

“Only in Milan can designers and planners find a mixture of creativity and the industrial capacity to interpret and represent it. That is why the annual appointment with the Salone is paramount for all those seeking inspiration while also showcasing their creativity…We can no longer think in terms of the Salone as just a trade fair, although it clearly needs to retain its commercial function, but the market is asking us and obliging us to keep our sights firmly fixed on creating experiential events that muster emotions and help people dream, leaving the memory of a moment, an object, a meeting, or even a business indelibly etched on their minds.”

One location that is reaching for the dream is in the Workspace 3.0 area of the fair, which is entering its 18th year as part of the event. This space is dedicated to showcasing the most innovative concepts in the design of workspaces. This year it will be the stage for the work of Shapemode, a leading Milanese 3D design and 3D printing studio in conjunction with ten invited pioneers in Italian design. Together their work promises to explore the future of making with digital tools. Specifically, the concept with which they will be working is ‘ReMesh’ a play on the digital meshes used in modeling and the bringing together of the Classic and the Future in terms of designed objects.

Within the Workplace 3.0, which will occupy approximately 10,000 meters of exhibition space and play host to over 100 companies, Shapemode and its partners in design will explore dominant trends in technology will use high-resolution Creaform 3D scanners to pull physical objects into the digital world so that they can be further manipulated. In this way, they hope to continue the search for optimal forms by exploring parametric modifications to digital models.

Parametric design has been a buzzword in the digital design field for some years now. When I worked with designer Jonathon Anderson, he taught my then two-year-old daughter to say the word, and that was seven years ago. The concept itself is not new and, in fact, is in danger of wearing out its welcome simply due to overuse. The idea behind it is that algorithms can be created which will make a determination of next steps in generation based on the way the data input is to be manipulated (the set of parameters assigned) at each decision making opportunity: if X then Y. In this way, it can work a bit like magic as the end result of any particular set parametric operations, if they are sufficiently complex, being very difficult to predict from the beginning point. A bit like chaos theory, these types of explorations have produced some stunningly beautiful and complex forms that otherwise would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to plan and create.

Like so much in mathematics, the answers are only as good as the questions that are asked and successful use of parametric design as a manner of generating form is determined by the capacity of the designer to understand and intentionally manipulate the parameters. To this end, Shapemode assembled a team of eleven designers to undertake the ReMesh and over the next five days, the world of design will await their explorations and what they are calling its /sim·bi·ò·sys/Discuss in the Salon del Mobile forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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