Cool Reptilian Chair Combines Computational Design with Craftsmanship

© Michael Villardi

The minimal, clean lines of the modern aesthetic -- of course facilitated by factory modes of mass production -- can get a little ubiquitously bland after a while. That's why we appreciate seeing designs that make use of new technologies that allow for forms of complexity and customization like CNC machining and 3D printing (like mind-blowing stairs and futuristic greenhouses). Inspired by the functionally rough but beautiful skins of reptiles, this incredible chair by computational designer Guillermo Bernal is another example of how digital fabrication is making an impact on the evolution of design.

© Michael Villardi
© Michael Villardi

Fascinated by the play of "function [versus] rough beauty" in the textures of reptilian skins, avocados and cantaloupes, Bernal, a graduate of Pratt Institute, decided to create a human-scaled chair called "Exocarp" that dealt with the same elements. Using an algorithm to generate the texture, he describes the creative process:

I began to look at surface studies and ways to implement them in a specific topological condition. The design of Exocarp came about by separating the areas where the body would touch the chair and areas where an extrinsic agent might try to approach the chair. Thus, the areas that the user touches the chair became smooth and comfortable whereas the areas approached by an extrinsic agent became texturized using a script that uses a perlin noise algorithm to generate the irregular texture, where the script to generate the irregular texture increases in amplitude proportionate to the surface area.

© Michael Villardi
© Michael Villardi

According to Design Milk, the chair was created using three sheets of birch plywood which was cut and shaped on a 3-axis CNC machine. The variable grain of the birch substrate materialized as an unexpected visual element thanks to the CNC production process, adding another layer of subtle beauty to the piece.

© Michael Villardi
© Michael Villardi

So while some may argue that these technologically-bent methods of making may spell the end of handcrafted material culture, Bernal muses paradoxically that there is still place for traditional spirit of craftsmanship in these new frontiers:

This type of investigation starts to give more of an understanding of material and craftsmanship, as opposed to simply generating an output from a file; by layering the material and paying close attention to detail, a more personal product can be achieved through digital means, as opposed to a generic and utilitarian form.

© Michael Villardi

See more at Guillermo Bernal's website.

Tags: Dematerialization | Downloadable Design | Furniture

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