chairgenics – the future of furniture: 3D printing the perfect chair with DNA
all images courtesy formnation
‘chairgenics’ by formnation
MAD museum, new york city
october 14, 2013 – july 6 2014
in a quest to produce the ultimate chair, designer jan habraken and his team at formnation developed chairgenics as a matter of scientific inquiry: if the chair had DNA, what might its descendants look like; and in a race for survival of the fittest, which combination of elements approaches genetic perfection? could modern technology breed the perfect chair? in setting up parameters for the technical hypothesis, formnation considered the genetic makeup of chairs in terms of ergonomics, durability, construction, costs and aesthetics; assigning a 1-10 value for each piece of furniture. habraken based aesthetic values on internet search popularity on google and yahoo with minimal bias on the design.
collaborating with uformia, a small californian-norwegian start-up which specialized in volumetric 3D modeling and morphing specialist mathieu sanchez, formnation developed a personal plug-in for chairgenics in rhino, resulting in better-automated breeding towards the ultimate chair. first generation chairgenics employed coordinates-based modeling and required laborious hand-selection of movable triangles and points – they further tweaked the software to mimic the genetic world. ‘for example when breeding a chicken, you don’t end up with 50% chicken and 50% hen, but instead swap different traits unequally,’ says jan habraken. ‘the software now can control every percentage of every element of the chair. we saw shapes and designs that we would have never been able to dream up ourselves.’
the team also encountered breeding difficulties in early morphs and established that not all chairs make good mates, for example, the backrest of some chairs disappeared while the stool remained. the team also encountered the tendencies toward obesity in reproduction. later generations of chairs were dramatically improved by adding anatomical boundaries within the SYMVOL software, allowing formnation to control the growth in each ‘bodypart’ and avoid inbreeding.
with the rise of 3D printing, many manufacturers and designers are beginning to ask themselves how far technology can assist in perfecting design and optimizing production. are we on the right path to the ultimate chair? judge for yourself at the MAD museum in new york city, where the first 3D-printed full scale chairgenics models will be on display in ‘out of hand’ materializing the postdigital from october 14, 2013 – july 6 2014.
3D printed scale models
3D printed scale models