Archived: ‘Materializing’ Explores Digital Modeling and Fabrication

The explosion of  interest in digital modeling and fabrication technologies like 3D printing, robotic and laser cutting has resulted in a number of interesting projects, from printed Valentine’s Day chocolates to models of yourself. The revolutionary potential of fabrication has been much talked about, and now an exhibition hosted by Tokyo University of the Arts has gathered a group of well known creators who are using these technologies to explore the possibilities of digital design in architecture, design and art.

Titled ‘Materializing’, the exhibition is centred on the idea of ‘not just information, and not just materials’, and showcases an emerging form of creativity that is broadly concerned with exploring how programmability can be materially presented, whether this is in the form of imagessoundsarchitectural models or animations. Supported by the developments in small scale digital modeling and fabrication technologies, these types of approaches allow for a quick means of prototyping and exploring a greater number of various design and artistic possibilities.

We visited the exhibition to check out the projects on display for ourselves.

studio_01 + yakul

‘Epoch I’

studio_01 is a Tokyo and Toyama-based partnership between designers Alex Knezo and Akinori Hamada that works on projects ranging from architecture to lighting, furniture, and branding. Their designs typically use Japanese elements of design alongside digitally designed elements.

‘Epoch I’ is an installation project done in collaboration with installation design studio yakul. A small-scale environment of the exhibition space was replicated in a glass box which was connected to a computer and bags of sand.

The project placed a number of tracking cameras around the exhibition, and a program was created to visually model and map how visitors moved throughout the space. This mapping was used to gradually fill the glass box with layers upon layers of sand that accumulated in areas where the presence of visitors was greatest. Ultimately, an installation that physically  and temporally records how a large group of people moved and affected the space throughout the exhibition’s history was created.

N&R Foldings + Heavy Back Pack 


N&R Foldings is a London/Tokyo based design studio that was co-founded by Rodrigo Solorzano and Naoki Kawamoto. The studio is particularly interested in digital generation and fabrication techniques, and draws inspiration from Origami.

‘Ori-con’ is the name of a software devised by the studio that automatically calculates and converts data to create customised wrappings that can be used to transport goods and gifts. Dubbed “Orishiki”, a portmanteau of the words “Ori” from Origami and “Shiki” from Furoshiki, these customised wrappings take the form of a single 2D structure made up of triangular segments that can be folded up and wrapped around objects.

Users 3D scan an object that they wish to wrap and carry, and the Ori-con software creates a mapping of an Orishiki for that object which can be designed instantly based on the data from the scan. A white control panel allows users to control a number of parameter values, such as the number of polygons or the thickness and width of each section, allowing them to easily adjust the design of the Orishiki. This design can then be exported to 3D printers, CNC and the like.

noiz architects

Located in the same office space as Mandalah, noiz architects is an architecture, design, and planning studio based in both Tokyo and Taiwan. Founded in 2007, the studio takes its name from the tendency to call new, innovative forms of music as ‘noise’, and this part of music history serves as an everyday reminder of the firm’s commitment to creative design solutions.

noiz architects’ project used 3D modeling and fabrication tools to structurally explore the Voronoi diagram, a way of recording information about the distances between sets of points in any dimensional space, which has typically been used in two-dimensional spaces.

000Lab based in Keio Shonan Fujisawa Campus’s display , ‘TPG Kit’ (Topological Grid).

Shio Imai’s ‘Trepak – The Nutcracker’ is a set of two sculptures created using motion capture technology that allowed for movement in real time to be captured and represented digitally. The trajectory of a composer’s hand was taken as data and printed using 3D printing technology.

Utilising plaster, cement, gravel and water, [gh/e]‘s project titled ‘she’ presented a way of joining one object to another.

While ans Studio’s ‘Neuro-Fabrics’ project highlighted the possibilities of the tree/wood in an era dominated by steel and glass as a material in computational design.

Tachi Tomohiro’s “free-form origami”, made from a folded 1,100mm x 1,300mm stainless steel sheet.

‘Materializing’ is one of the first exhibitions in Japan that has brought together such a diverse group of architects, designers and artists interested in exploring the burgeoning developments between information and fabrication. It will definitely be interesting to see how different groups continue to push the boundaries of what can be done with digital fabrication and modeling as the technology develops.



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