3D Printing and a Trip Around the World of Design
Severe, yet elegant geometric style carried out with great economy of means distinguishes everyday objects, lamps, vases or candleholders, created by UAU project, a small design studio based in Warsaw, Poland. “Think German Bauhaus, Scandinavian minimalism, think Japanese aesthetic principles; simplicity, naturalness, tranquility and subtly profound grace. Take a close look at what we do and you’ll find all of those things in there”, say Justyna Fałdzińska and Miłosz Dąbrowski, industrial design graduates from Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw who co-founded UAU back in 2011.To get rid of distinction between form and function, to merge the craft tradition with modern technology, and to reconcile mass production with the individual artistic spirit were the fundamental ideas of Bauhaus. UAU stays true to them all and for Fałdzińska and Dąbrowski it takes courage, ingenuity, and our Zortrax M200. Here’s how they do it.
“At the academy we figured our ideas resonated well with each other. This was also the place where we encountered 3D printing for the first time”, they say. Most of the equipment available at their school was outdated, though, and objects coming out of the printers needed lots of elaborate post-processing. “3D printing was unbelievably hyped nonetheless. We got this impression of touching the future”, recollects Dąbrowski. The young designers were hooked right in. Two years after their graduation, they got themselves their first 3D printer. Then came the learning, weeks of research and mastering the new technology. “Funny thing is in design you’re always limited by tools, by materials, and you get used to it. Limitations narrow down your scope of ideas and force you into particular choices. Then snap! You have a 3D pinter in front of you and you know you can do almost everything, but your mind suddenly goes blank”, says Fałdzińska. But they overcame this too and slowly their style began to take shape and evolve into what it is now. Once it’s evolved, they made an informed decision. They bought the M200.
UAU is about ecology as much as it is about designing beautiful objects. They made it a point to print with PLA only, because the material is biodegradable. Ecology matters, so with the addition of Z-PLA Pro to our selection of printing materials we provided the best solution for eco-friendly designs. To go even greener, there is the idea of upcycling, also known as creative reuse. Want your own miniature greenhouse? Take a standard wide mouth Mason jar, download and 3D print a GROWW project from UAU website, fill the inner pot with soil, seeds and water, screw the jar on top of it and you’re done. You can get the VASE1, another of UAU designs, pretty much the same way, only the jar serves as a water container. “Texture is one of our distinctive features”, says Dąbrowski. “We use it to refine the plastic, but it is also there to disperse light in a way that makes the object look warm”, adds Fałdzińska. The choice of color, simple geometric forms that merge and, once merged, transition into something entirely new hints at the Memphis style, a set of aesthetic ideas developed by Ettore Sottsass in Milan, Italy, back in the 1980s. “So, we had all of this thought out thoroughly and we wanted to show our work to the world”, says Dąbrowski. UAU chose the best possible place to do it.
On they went to Paris, which three weeks ago hosted Paris Design Week with 250 brands from all over the world in its most iconic districts. UAU showed up with a selection of their works and three of our 3D printers- two M200s, and one M300. “The French were familiar with our style. They knew it and they liked it. We got lots of attention. But what really blew them away, was the technology itself”, says Fałdzińska. People simply thought this whole affair must have been very expensive and were surprised to find out it was not the case at all. “Expensive when compared to what? To outsourcing the manufacturing to China? To using other techniques? Those become viable when you mass-produce stuff, and we don’t want to mass-produce anything. We want to keep our things customizable and personal”, says Dąbrowski. It turned out 3D printing was actually the most affordable technology available to UAU given their business model. Wonderful design aside, Fałdzińska and Dąbrowski found themselves with yet another advantage over their fellow designers- they were extremely price-competitive.
Business from the Future
“But there’s more to 3D printing than just prototyping and manufacturing”, says Dąbrowski. Along with Fałdzińska he got sold on the powerful vision preached by Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku and other giants of futurism- the vision of people having their own general-purpose miniature factories at homes, devices able to manufacture anything they want on demand when fed with a right design. “Yes it will work like iTunes one day. We will be sitting in front of our screens, shopping around for downloadable physical objects the way we shop around for songs today”, says Dąbrowski. No shipping, no mass-produced, one size-fits-all stuff, no need to go anywhere or wait for delivery to have something you fancy. Just download, 3D print, and there you go. In a way, that’s the business model UAU studio is trying out today. “It’s just the beginning, but that’s the future we’re looking forward to and getting ready for”, they claim. Strap in.
You can read more about using a 3D printer to create artfully designed, yet useful everyday objects in a story on Loïc Notaroberto and Simon Boldrini. To find more about wearable 3D printed accessories, go to a blogpost about Nemesis Collection, and if you are into fashion, get to know works of Cristina Franceschini.