So far, digitization has brought us two revolutions, which both led to enormous leaps in efficiency: one in communication and one in computation. Many argue that we are in the middle of a third and potentially even more influential digital revolution: that of fabrication. What happens when this streak of digitization enters the physical world of materials?
‘When Digital Gets Physical’ is an ongoing research project exploring applications of reconfigurable digital materials at different scales. The laws of digital building* offer huge potential for material efficiency and re-use, and this project is looking into the deployment of these benefits in present-day contexts.
This chair, as its first outcome, is meant to visualize the concept of digital material and translate its core principles to a physical shape. It is assembled from aluminium tetrahedrons and spheres, which – when tightened by the inner cables – form a lightweight octet truss lattice, inspired by the way atoms are oriented in crystalline structures. When the tension is released, the shape disappears and the ‘material’ returns to its initial state, ready to be reconfigured. The chair was developed in collaboration with After-Form.
*Neil Gershenfeld and his research group at the Centre for Bits and Atoms at MIT are working towards this poetic future of digital materials. Their work was the main inspiration for this project. See: www.whendigitalgetsphysical.com.