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."
FROM THIS EPISODE
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."
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
Mallery Roberts Morgan, Design writer and curator
Roman Alonso, Partner, Commune (@communedesign)
Steven Johanknecht, Partner, Commune (@communedesign)
Ramin Shamshiri, Partner, Commune (@communedesign)
Pamela Shamshiri, Partner, Commune (@communedesign)
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
More From Design and Architecture
Silicon Valley disrupts cities, Stacy Michelson Apple has rebranded its stores as "town squares;" a vending machine startup called Bodega caused outrage; cities are lining up to woo Amazon's HQ2. DnA looks at tech's impact on cities. Plus, artist Stacy Michelson (creator of KCRW's Good Food tote bag and picnic blanket) tells us how Japanese snack food packaging inspired her goofy illustrations.
Stormy connections, Amazon seeks city, 'Found in Translation' As Apple marks the iPhone's ten year anniversary with the launch of the iPhone X, thousands of people in hurricane-struck areas cannot make a phone call. And Amazon seeks a bride: North American cities are a-courting to house the tech behemoth's HQ2. Plus, LACMA's Found In Translation explores decades of cross-pollination in art and design between California and Mexico.
The crosswalks of Bunker Hill are alive with color Four crosswalks in front of the Broad in downtown Los Angeles got a colorful paint job this weekend. Local high school students helped paint intersecting diagonal stripes in a design created by 94-year-old Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez. The Broad invited him to re-imagine the crosswalks as part of the city-wide Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
Berggruen Institute, 'Condemned to Be Modern' Nicolas Berggruen, the billionaire investor and philanthropist, has likened his planned research center in the Santa Monica Mountains to a secular monastery. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron is designing it. What is the Berggruen Institute, and will the building please the neighbors? And we visit Condemned to Be Modern at LA Municipal Art Gallery, in which Cuban, Brazilian and Mexican artists examine the rhetoric and legacy of modernism.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
5 design things to do this week This week, you can: join a conversation at the intersection of surfing, writing and art; see how Michigan made its mark on Modernism; go to a dinner party at a Mid-century gem in the Hollywood Hills or a Masquerade Ball to mark Culver City’s 100th birthday; also, view the “POPcalyptic” art of D*Face, an exhibition that transcends borders and one that explores colors that you can taste and smell. Read More
Meet Stacy Michelson, the artist behind the Good Food blanket Listeners of KCRW are going to be hearing the name Stacy Michelson quite a lot over this coming week, because she is the artist behind the Good Food tote bag,… Read More