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How digital technology is influencing the world of design

Updated 21st September 2017
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How digital technology is influencing the world of design
It takes a feat of design skills and technological know-how to make a ceramic vase appear as though it has been blown away by the wind and stuck in that position.
You may have only thought this possible on a CGI program on a computer screen, but this "blown away vase" is the real 3D deal: you can even fill it up with water and put flowers in it.
This particular design was made by the four-woman team at Front Design, in collaboration with Dutch furniture and interior specialists Moooi.
It's an imitation of a Dutch classic, the tin-glazed Royal Delft vase. But this version wasn't created in a traditional way. Instead it has been digitized with parameters added to the material in a 3D software suite and then exposed to a simulated gust of wind to create this unimaginable effect.

Melting table

If you were blown away by Front's extroverted Danish crockery, then perhaps their table that melts will grab your attention also.
Overtime the seemingly robust ice cream-colored table will disfigure in shape, leaving its owner with nothing but a mangled, melted heap of table on the floor. This is achieved through a precise and oddly placed weight distribution, causing the table to slowly (but surely) collapse.
Over time this table will disfigure in shape. Because of it's oddly placed weight the "Melting Table" and will eventually collapse. Credit: Courtesy Anna Lönnerstam
The Swedish studio founded by Sofia Lagerkvist and Anna Lindgren has been inventing, experimenting and breaking the rules in design since its debut in 2003.
They have worked with infamous designer Tom Dixon on a lamp that looks as though it has "melted," made using the complicated process of vacuum metallization, and have had works represented at the MoMA in New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Designing the unexpected

When we catch up with Lagerkvist, she explains why, when it comes to designing the unexpected, it's the combination of new technologies and materials together that is key.
"It's interesting to combine different areas of technology that perhaps they haven't met before, and you can see how it can be a collaboration between the ideas of the designer and different types of technology.
"It could be a new material that has been developed that you have found somewhere, and together with an electronic that has never seen that material before and never been tried with anything in that area."
When it comes to designing with technology, the world is Front's oyster. "Technology can open the door for making something that has never been done before," said Lagerkvist.

The art of collaboration

While technology plays an important role in the workings of Front's designs, the art of collaboration is where they are truly innovative.
Based on a traditional Zulu craft whereby glass beads are threaded onto wire, these vases feature written testimonials of five South African women. Credit: Courtesy FRONT Design
Recently in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, the designers incorporated an ancient Zulu craft into their designs -- a series of vases made from wire with beads threaded on them.
However, on closer inspection, all wasn't what it seemed. "Women told us their very personal stories that became part of the project and objects," says Largerkvist of the five African women's testimonials that were written in the beaded wire and woven into the vases, a collaboration that to this day is still ongoing.
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For now, the team continues to work with experimental materials and technologies. They say they have quite a lot of projects they can't say anything about yet, but the promise of works featuring in both the Galerie Kreo and the famous Friedman Benda gallery are enough to make a design buff's mouth water.
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