Neri Oxman’, Architect, Designer and Professor of Media, Arts and Science at MIT, this week debuts ‘Gemini’, a two-part chaise lounge produced, in part, using 3D printing. Gemini has been conceived and produced by Ms Oxman, a 3D printing favourite thanks to her vision and extraordinary output, in collaboration with Professor W. Craig Carter, Department of Materials Science and Engineering of MIT and using Stratasys’ new Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer.
The duality of the Gemini concept is key, it is intended to convey the relationship of twins in the womb through material properties and their spatial arrangement. As such Gemini combines both traditional and innovative manufacturing processes and will be unveiled tomorrow at the “Vocal Vibrations” exhibition at La Laboratoire in Paris, France.
The two piece cocoon-like structure combines subtractive and additive manufacturing and continues Oxman’s exploration of the Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printing technology which enables a variety of material properties and colour combinations to be printed in a single build.
“The twin chaise spans multiple scales of the human existence extending from the warmth of the womb to the stretches of the Gemini zodiac in deep space. It recapitulates a human cosmos, our body, like the constellation, drifting in quiet space. Here the duality of nature is expressed through the combination of traditional materials and state of the art 3D printing,” says Ms Oxman. “Stratasys new multi- material colour 3D printing capability has allowed me to create a rich dialog between sound and light, rigid and flexible, natural and man-made materials and high and low spatial frequencies in ways that were impossible until now.”
This work draws together some common themes that can be traced through Oxman’s work: obviously there is her draw to 3D printing, and specifically the work she does with Stratasys’ Objet technology, but there is also mythology which influences her strongly and her obvious delight in chaise longues!
This design commission brings these themes together and intends to explore how materials interact with the human body — the twin chaise features an enclosure that cushions the body within a coloured, multi-material 3D printed cocoon, replicating the tranquillity of the womb. A solid wood shell house provides the protective exterior. Lining Gemini from the inside are 44 composite PolyJet digital materials, including colour.The 3D printed ‘skin’ uses Stratasys’ unique triple jetting technology and combines three base materials: Stratasys’ rubber-like TangoPlus, rigid VeroYellow and VeroMagenta, forming varying shades of transparent and opaque yellows and oranges, in different rigidities. The materials, shapes and surfaces of the 3D printed skin enable a unique vibrational acoustic effect for a quiet calming environment.
“Gemini is fundamentally about the complex and contradictory relationship between twins, which is mirrored in the geometrical forms of the two-part chaise and the dualities that drive their formation, such as the combination of natural and synthetic materials,” explains Professor Oxman. “The Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer and technology enabled us to print 44 material combinations that not only target specific pressure points on the body to form a sensorial landscape, but also act as a soundproof anechoic chamber, an architecture for quieting the mind.”
Gemini features separate, independent parts that together form an enclosure: Gemini Alpha and Gemini Beta. They are inspired by the mythical relationship between the Dioskouri twins, Castor, born of man (named Gemini Beta after the star in the Northern constellation of Gemini) and Pollux born divine (named Gemini Alpha after the second brightest star in the constellation of Gemini).
In keeping with Greek mythology, the first piece, Gemini Alpha recapitulates the form of a swan, as it is believed that Leda, the twins’ mother, became pregnant with Pollux after being seduced by Zeus in the disguise of a swan. Inspired by the lingual root of the word ‘swan’, “sound” or “to sing,” Gemini Alpha includes a sound enclosure featuring a range of Stratasys 3D printed PolyJet digital materials with varying elastic and acoustical properties. Surface features that are more curved than others are assigned more elastic properties thereby increasing sound absorption around local chambers.
“I wanted to reproduce the calming and still ambience of the fetus’ prenatal experience,” explains Professor Oxman. “The 3D printed sound-proof skin brings the whole concept to life, transporting the visitor once seated within the chaise to ultimate serenity.”
Gemini Alpha will be on display at Le Laboratoire Paris from tomorrow, March 28th 2014.
Gemini Beta, to be unveiled at the Laboratoire Cambridge exhibition in October 2014, is designed to complete its twin, creating a full enclosure, however it can also function as an independent chaise when positioned upside down.
You can hear more of Professor Oxman’s thoughts in this exclusive video interview she did for Stratasys: