In need of transformation

Augmenting materiality through craft/automation hybrid processes

In need of transformation is a design experiment I worked on for Studio INI investigating the grey area between digital automation and the intuition in craftsmanship to form matter that can transform itself and the space it inhabits. This project is part of the studio’s ongoing exploration of materiality, and it was exhibited at the V&A during the London Design Festival 2017. You can find more information here.

Augmented Materiality

Augmented materiality is defined by continuously transformable structures that 'form' and 'deform' themselves and the space they inhabit. Glass, in its capacity to refract and template its environment through light, has an inherently flexible capacity to transform the space it inhabits, therefore making it an ideal vector for our experiments.

The glass blown pieces were made through a hybrid process fusing of traditional craftsmanship and digital automation, using an algorithm-based system that correlates direct handling of the glass, with automated cycles of air pressure and suction. This process enhances the typical human limitations in crafts, while retaining the importance of intuition and sensoriality.

Throughout the process, the glass forms, deforms and reforms, and eventually freezes at different points across its structure, allowing us to create a visual record of the process of cyclical deformation: a form of embedded logic.

Handling the glass with live sensor-based pneumatic control.
Visual record of cyclical deformations.

Hybrid process

We are not seeking to make practical tools. Instead we are seeking to explore alternative processes in forming glass that combine the material driven fabrication of the craft to the rule based precision of automation. We used the positioning of the hand in order to provide an intuitive bridge controlling both approaches. The new process then became a cognitive game between rules and intuition.

This hybrid process pushes the boundaries and explores the fringes of designed materiality by creating with manufacturing process dictating form rather than having process dictated as a function of form.

Project in collaboration with Nassia Inglessis, Edward Brial, Luke Walker and Ageliki Yiotis for Stuio INI.
2017 | V&A, London Design Festival