"Nature or Nurture: a 3D Printed Space" was an exhibition which won the 2017 SOFA CONNECT student competition at Navy Pier in Chicago. The goal of the piece was to construct an inviting space combining found materials with new and innovative technologies in order to spark discussion about how new and old can come together in the modern world to create something beautiful and functional. A team of undergraduate and graduate industrial design students from Purdue University worked together over the course of three months to design, build, test, and execute this project.
External Structure: McKayla Barber, Zach Hellman, Hannah Ferrill, Marshall Ma, David Marchese, and Andrew Hu
Furniture: Sam Bucciferro, Evan Brown, Alison Burkett, Gabrielle Bennett, and Brennan Hunt
Lighting: Max Cao, Keith Williams, and Daniel Madrinan Chiquito
Faculty Advisors: Steve Visser, TJ Kim, and Laura Drake
Mockup of Concept
Applying Sho Sugi Ban
Testing Bench Joints
Final Bench Design
Testing the Concept
Inspired by the intersection of nature and technology, this project combines Indiana native wood and 3D printed joints with the goal of creating a space that is both surprising and comfortable. Our aim was to bring the essence of nature into an artificial space in order to create an inviting environment for the attendees of the SOFA exhibition, in a way that would inspire people to think and discuss. The interactive part of the space is a four-piece bench. The sections intertwine and zig-zag across the space, encouraging people to interact with friends and strangers alike. A sixteen-foot curved wall with protruding cantilevered branches framed the space and created an excellent talking point for attendees, while two free-standing floor lamps gave the space a warm, intimate feeling. These elements were created by three separate teams of students who collaborated in order to achieve a cohesive aesthetic.
The branches are made from several Indiana native wood species, which were harvested from a local forest and recycled. They were treated using the Japanese wood burning treatment, Sho Sugi Ban, which involves removing the bark, burning the wood, and finally sealing it with oil. Incorporating a bit of our home state's heritage along with ancient wood-processing techniques helped convey the traditional, natural side of our exhibition.
In stark contrast, we used a new material for all of the joints in the exhibit: 3D printed plastic. We optimized the structure of the joints and their printing process in order to fully utilize the strength of the material. This was done to show how tiny pieces of modern innovation can support and control massive natural structures.
This project was designed for and won the 2017 SOFA CONNECT competition at Navy Pier in Chicago.
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