Designers working with 3D printers have been trying to make modular furniture catch on for years now, and so far nothing has really seemed to work. For the most part, the problem lies in the lack of practicality. 3D printed furnishings are limited to the size of the 3D printer, the quality of the materials being used, and of course the ability to safely assemble it once all of the parts have been printed. Not to mention the time required to print the parts needed to build furniture. While the idea of home furnishings that you can create yourself sounds wonderful, the technology just isn’t there to make it feasible on a large scale.
However lately I’ve started to notice a new movement in the design scene that focuses less on 3D printed furniture and more on how 3D printing can help them streamline the process of constructing practical and usable furnishings from more traditional materials. Wood is still probably the most cost effective and environmentally friendly material to make furniture from, but that doesn’t mean that 3D printing can’t improve on how our wood furniture is put together.
The concept behind Happenstance Workshop’s SACK line of modular home furnishings is pretty simple: ease of construction, customizability and sustainability. The kits include a series of pieces of wood and several 3D printed connectors and fasteners that allow the user to alter the basic design to fit in their lives. But it also encourages users to become more connected to their new furnishings, understand how it is made, and promote the idea of reusing it in new configurations as their needs change rather than simply throwing it away and purchasing something new.
“The design for SACK came about from an anger around the current design scene in Britain, specifically with interior furniture. Most products are heavily aesthetic driven, designers seem to only care for what looked good rather than making advancements in ethics and sustainability. As a result from this mentality we have a culture of buying without thinking, consumers are purchasing objects without knowing where they were made or whether the object has been made correctly and in a sustainable manner,” explained Happenstance Workshop co-founder Jordan Watson.
Jordan and his business partner Bob Watson (no relation) discovered a shared passion for designing products that are intended to last using sustainable and easy to acquire materials after meeting each other in art college. Their partnership continued after they graduated when they founded the Happenstance Workshop, where they strive to combine modern design and fabrication techniques with materials that they can create in-house on a small scale. Their SACK furnishings are designed specifically to encourage modification and expansion by the individual user.
“So SACK needed to fit broad topics, it needed to be reusable, made in-house, and emotionally engage the user. SACK does all those things by having a self-assembly modular system, the user can appropriate their objects when they become unneeded, the stool can be combined into the shelving and make most of the coffee table, the dining table combined with a stool can make a bench. We hope that by having the user create their own objects that they build some kind of bond and feel ownership over the object as they are involved in the making, that also helps stop the item from being thrown away,” Jordan continued.
You can see how SACK furniture can be taken apart and reassembled in new configurations on this video:
The 3D printable connectors used in SACK furniture are all printed to order in the Happenstance Workshop on their Ultimaker 2. A full set of brackets and connectors takes most of the day to 3D print, giving the pair just enough time to fabricate the wooden parts. Jordan explained that as orders increase they can simply add a second 3D printer to their workshop and double their output. Each wood part is run through a router to give it its standard shape, cut down to size and will have several screw holes drilled into them so they can be used in several different configurations.
The SACK line of furniture currently offers a variety of standard kits including wall shelving, several coffee table designs and even a dining table. The connectors are also available in several different colors, so users can personalize their new furniture to their specifications. You can find all of the SACK options on the Happenstance Workshop website, and make sure that you let us know what you think of this new product over on our SACK 3D printed Sustainable Modular Furniture forum thread at 3DPB.com.