3D Printers

From drum and bass to tables and chairs

A former DJ in Dundee has swapped the decks for art and design with his own line of furniture that will take pride of place at the University of Dundee Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show.

Jon Christie has adopted 3D printing as part of his design process in a bid to reduce the overall cost of expensive parts that take a large amount of intricate woodworking. More than 100 industry professionals have kept a close eye on this final year university project, which is almost unheard of in the design industry.

“I didn’t know anything about 3D printing,” he said. “But through a lot of trial, error, sweat and tears I like to think I’ve become something of an expert and have now mastered the substitution of tricky woodworked parts with 3D printed joints.

“This means fewer complicated wooden components will be needed for the construction process in both large and small-scale manufacturing.”

DJ goes to Denmark

Christie was a well-known face on the Dundee club scene and he also owned Pressure Records, a popular shop in the city. Then a trip to his new wife’s home country of Denmark had a profound impact on his life.

20 years ago, furniture in Great Britain really wasn’t the style statement it is today. Christie was inspired by the elegant furniture he encountered in people’s homes in Denmark. He was also taken with the Danish attitude to quality construction that has moulded his own approach to high-end furniture.

It marked a turning point in his life, although there it would be a long and winding road to get to his final destination. The Scot dove into research about Scandinavian furniture when he returned home, which led him to eBay and the start of a career as a trader.

“When I took my first trip to Denmark with my wife I couldn’t believe the furniture I was seeing in people’s houses,” he said. “This didn’t look like any furniture I had ever seen before and I had never seen people take such pride in it either. I instantly fell in love with these beautiful, elegant, timeless designs.”

Jon Christie reveals his new Danish-inspired furniture

The light goes on

On eBay, he spotted a pendant that he recognised as a Navy pendant light by designer Jorn Utzon. The Dane designed the Sydney Opera House and won the Pritzker Architecture Prize during a long and lauded career.

Christie sold the piece on for a handsome profit and decided that was his future. He worked with a number of leading auction houses and traded valuable furniture from around the world.

“I came back and learned everything I could about the wonders I had seen and developed a real passion for furniture and lighting, especially mid-20th century or Modernist design,” he said. “Before I came back into education I made my living from it, but it got to the point four years ago when I felt I had to give it a go as a designer.”

Design was calling

He enrolled on an Interior Environmental Design course at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

His collection, which centres on a table and chairs, employs everything he has learned from the traditional Danish masters, modern design and even 3D printing techniques to produce modern furniture with a timeless look.

3D printing is just a part

He concluded: “The furniture I admire most has a high degree of craftsmanship, features beautiful natural materials and has proved timeless. My final year at university has been about creating furniture to be proud of. My project has looked at how 3D printed parts can be used to assist the maker by removing expensive, wasteful and time-consuming elements from the construction process.

“I made the rest of the furniture using traditional crafts skills. Every single component has a function and that’s where the design brings the traditional skills and technology together. It is important to me that 3D printing isn’t seen as a replacement for these traditional skills. It is another tool for the maker to use to complement them.

“The potential of 3D printing is immense. It could potentially bring a boom for local manufacturing because parts don’t need to be mass-produced in different parts of the world. It is also much more efficient than other forms of manufacturing. With 90 per cent of materials used we can cut down on waste considerably.”

The 300 graduates will all show their wares at the Degree Show 2016 that launches with a preview evening on Friday May 20th and continues until Sunday May 29th.

Whatever happens to the rest of them, we’re sure we have not seen the last of Jon Christie.