What Will We Do with 3D Printers?
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The 3D printer comes into the home. Will Makerbot make us all industrial designers? Or is it an expensive means to make inferior products? With Raymond Roker, Jeff Mayberry, Andy Ogden and Carolyn, Summer and Tom. Also, the story behind LA design company Commune, with Roman Alonso, Steven Johanknecht, Pamela Shamshiri, Ramin Shamshiri and Mallery Roberts Morgan. And photographer Iwan Baan on flying high to capture "The City and The Storm."
MakerBots and the Future of Industrial Design ()
For the first time in the history of the South by Southwest Interactive Conference, the buzz on the street wasn't about an app like Twitter or Foursquare but about a product—one that’s been building momentum and seems to have reached fever pitch. But does 3D printing technology promise us all the ability to become industrial designers, or it an expensive way to produce inferior products? A recent episode of The Big Bang Theory seemed to encapsulate most people's skepticism:
To find out more about this brave new world of consumer 3D printing, Frances and her daughter Summer went to the West LA home of financier Jeff Mayberry and his two children, Carolyn and Tom.
There on the kitchen sat a covered object. Jeff gathered the children around and like a magician about to reveal the rabbit, swept off the cover, and there it was: A a black box-like object, about the size and shape of a large microwave, made of metal and open on three sides and the top. Inside was a small blue platform and hanging over that a movable arm from which hung a small contraption with a fine nozzle. A spool of plastic thread attached to the back of the object fed into the nozzle, like a bobbin of thread feeding into a needle on a sewing machine. This is the MakerBot Replicator 2, it retails for around two thousand dollars and it is one of the new 3D printers meant for home use. Jeff’s first project for the kids is to print out a gold chain link bracelet already designed by Makerbot.
This is a something designers have been seeing on the horizon for over a decade, says Andy Odgen, chair of Graduate Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design. Up until now product designers and architects have used 3D printers to test ideas and make prototypes. On a recent show, Charles Renfro of Diller Scofidio + Renfro talked about about how they have used a highly sophisticated version of the technology—called rapid prototyping—to test every single unit of the complex concrete wall of the Broad Museum, currently under construction on Grand Avenue. Next, he says, will come printers that build an actual building. And it’s been floated that in the not too distant future we’ll be able not only to design our own products on home-based printers, but also copy other people’s designs. But how real is this—and should designers and manufacturers be worried?
One of the biggest 3D printing stories of last year was focused on Michael Guslick's claim that he 3D printed a gun. You can hear our interview with him as part of our show "Lethal Weapons."
Designer Spotlight: Commune ()
DnA is expanding and we are going to shine a weekly spotlight on designers and makers in Los Angeles. First up, Commune, designers of numerous projects including Heath Ceramics, Ammo, Farmshop, Mattison and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Mallery Roberts Morgan covers LA design for the Hollywood Reporter and French Architectural Digest and has followed the company for many years. Roman Alonso and Stephen Johanknecht came to LA after working in “creative services” during the 1990's glory days of Barneys New York; Ramin Shamshiri and Pamela Shamshiri previously worked in production design. So all four see projects in terms of storytelling, for example the Ace Hotel has not necessarily a look but a narrative. A dominant feature of Commune’s work is a return to the handmade, and fine craftsmanship is a resource in no short supply in Southern California.
Heath Ceramics store designed by Commune in Los Angeles, photo by Corey Walter
Commune's office space
Fireplace by Stan Bitters in a Los Feliz residence, photo by Corey Walter
Top image: Commune portrait by Amy Neusinger
Iwan Baan Captures Cities from the Sky ()
The Highland Corridor that runs between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard here in LA has seen a huge transformation in the last few years. The trend was started by furniture dealers Blackman Cruz and Joel Chen, then art heavyweights like Shaun Regen of Regen Projects and New York transplant Perry Rubenstein moved in.
Rubenstein's latest show features Iwan Baan, a Dutch photographer who launched his career with gritty and beautiful photographs of iconic buildings, including Michael Maltzan’s Inner City Arts in LA. He’s become known for photographing cities from the sky to better capture the social and economic story of a place. And he seems to know helicopter pilots wherever he goes. This lead to him capturing perhaps his most career-changing photograph—of Manhattan, split into dark and light. He tells the story, which includes arriving in New York one day before Hurricane Sandy, on a commission for Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. The series is called "The City and the Storm," and it is on show along with other works by Iwan Baan at Perry Rubenstein at 1215 N. Highland Avenue.
- Iwan Baan: Photographer
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