american design duo nervous system (jessica rosenkrantz and jesse louis-rosenberg) has a new collection of lamps and porcelain pieces entitled ‘reaction’, which combine nature, science and technology, through new 3D printing materials and interactive media.

‘reaction’ is based on a chemical patterning system called ‘reaction-diffusion’ which describes a hypothesized mechanism for the synthesis of the diverse patterning seen on animals ranging from zebra stripes and giraffe spots to the complex coloring of tropical fish. reaction-diffusion models substances that are diffusing , or spreading; these substances also react with each other to create new substances. the collection of pieces employs a computer simulation of this process to generate forms which were at once abstract and organic, reminding us of the patterns we see throughout the natural world. the ‘reaction’ line features slip-cast ceramic housewares and 3D printed lamps.

‘seed #1 lamp’

the ‘seed #1’ lamp plays with the reaction-diffusion process at varying scales, producing an organic effect. the surface is a result of layering reaction patterns at a micro and macro scale. the larger scale pattern creates the overall topography of the lamp, while the smaller scale modulates the surface thickness to reveal a cellular texture when lit. the patterns of ‘seed #1’ at both scales, are cellular, however the surface is punctured only according to the disposition of the smaller scale. for this particular finish, nervous system was influenced by microscopic images of seeds where both the overall shape of the seed and the cells of which it is composed are still visible.

nervous system: reaction ‘seed #1 lamp’ detail

nervous system: reaction ‘seed #2 lamp’

in this version of the ‘seed’ lamp, the macro and micro scale patterns each have a distinct character, interacting to create a pattern of perforations limited to the valleys of its luminous landscape.

nervous system: reaction ‘seed #2 lamp’ detail

nervous system: reaction ‘seed #2 lamp’ detail

to produce the forms of the seed lamps, nervous system created the simulations and designs in processing an open source programming environment:

Formation of Seed Lamps #1 and #2 from Nervous System on Vimeo.

nervous system: reaction ‘spiral lamp’

the ‘spiral lamp’ is a 7″ pendant lamp covered by ridges and valleys that transmit different amounts of light when illuminated. they furnish a distinct pattern whether the lamp is on or off. the light’s form is created through a simulation process in which two chemicals diffuse across a surface and react with one another to form stable patterns. this process can be used to explain the intricate patterns found on the skin of many types of animals from the spots of leopards to the radiating stripes of angelfish. growing a pattern with different parameters can dramatically produce different results. nervous system orchestrated a pattern that twists towards the base of the lamp where it terminates into a gentle spiral. lines diverge and converge along the contours of the sphere, blanketing the surface in many deep grooves, recalling the forms of sand dunes and hard corals.

nervous system: reaction top view of ‘spiral lamp’

nervous system: reaction

nervous system: reaction lamp concept drawings and renderings

reaction-diffusion is one of the most canonical examples of complex, emergent behavior from a simple set of rules. it models a set of substances that are diffusing or spreading. these substances react with one another, creating new substances. the process has been suggested as a model for a diverse set of biological phenomena.

reactions from Nervous System on Vimeo.

nervous system is also currently working in collaboration with viridis3d, a company developing a new ceramic material for 3D printing. thus far they have created a vase design and prototype pieces of porcelain dinnerware experimenting with this technology.

nervous system: reaction

the dinnerware series features surface designs of intricate embossed reaction patterns.

nervous system: reaction

the videos below display the algorithmic generation which was used to produce the tableware designs:

reaction plate from Nervous System on Vimeo.

Reaction – cup from Nervous System on Vimeo.

nervous system: reaction vase design

nervous system: reaction

pieces of the ‘reaction collection’ are currently on show at rare device in san francisco until october 10th, 2010.