Glistening like colossal sea anemones, two new chair designs by Zaha Hadid Architects reveal the sculptural possibilities behind 3D printing. Created as part of a new project by Spanish design group Nagami entitled “Brave New World: Rethinking Design in the New Age of Technology,” the chairs are set to debut at this year’s Milan Design Week, which itself will run from April 17th to 22nd. Both chairs were printed using a pellet extruder with plastic PLA particles sourced from renewable materials like cornstarch.
Officially named “Bow” and “Rise,” the two chairs continue Hadid’s legacy of organic, nature-inspired forms two years after her death. Patrick Schumacher and Sebastian Anda, both designers with Zaha Hadid Architects, envision the chairs as a way to redefine “the spatial relationship between furniture and its setting.” They’re part of the firm’s ongoing research into 3D printing and experimentation with new materials, exploring the ways advanced fabrication technology can be used to dramatically change the shapes we typically associate with certain objects and structures.
When designing the chairs, the team took inspiration from cellular structures found in life forms like plants and coral. Each chair boasts a textural surface and an ergonomic cup-like shape designed to cradle the curves of the body.
Why be limited by the archetypal shape of a chair when you could nestle into something as beautiful as this? Reminiscent of blown glass sculptures, the chairs look like the sort of hand-crafted objects that would typically require many hours of artisan work. But 3D printing makes it easy to take even the most complex shapes and turn them into functional objects — often using recycled materials, to boot. Imagine where such capabilties could take the design of everyday objects in the near future.
Hadid’s firm is well known for taking risks with 3D printing, producing everything from avant garde shoe designs to experimental sculptures that could eventually be scaled up into architectural expressions like pavilions. “Bow” and “Rise” are not the firm’s first forays into chair design, but they are perhaps the most advanced. A previous design called “STRATASYS” took on a more literal and conventional shape.
Rounding out Nagami’s collection are “Peeler,” a black chair with an almost calligraphic form by designer Daniel Widrig, and “Robotica TM,” a silver stool printed from a spiral of silicone by Ross Lovegrove. Lovegrove’s stool is based on “rotational geometry,” which means it’s accessible from all angles and can also be used as a table or plinth. Printing each of these chairs takes just a few hours and wastes less material than conventional furniture manufacturing.
Nagami specializes in digital fabrication, constantly coming up with new ways to design everyday products. They explain: “We bring 3D printing and robotic manufacturing to large-scale products and objects with a wide range of customization possibilities. Research and innovation are at the core of our products, developed in collaboration with internationally renowned designers who can challenge our technology to create groundbreaking products. We craft every detail, from the early conception of a product to the software that allows it to come to life, exploring new ways of creating furniture and environments which push the limits of imagination to unseen territories.”