In his 2015 book “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” Jeremy Rifkin includes 3D printing in a list of technologies that have the potential of transforming the economy beyond the “Industry 4.0” revolution. This transformation aims to create a system of distributed value creation based on our ability to create sustaiunable networks that reduce marginal cost to a minimum. These networks can emerge from the synergy that clean energy, common economics, and 3D Printing have today and therefore, it is exciting to meet organizations, projects, and people who work in the verge of this transformation. One of these projects is the Distributed Design Academy. A project led by the Eurpean Distributed Design Platform that seeks to exchange knowledge around distributed manufacturing. In this 2020 edition, we were invited to join other 15 european projects through their Danish partners: Foreningen Maker and the Danish Design Center.
Through the Distributed Design Academy sessions we have been able to work with very interesting projects that also work with 3D printing. This is the case of Laetitia Bou Acar, partner at Warren & Laetitia. A french design studio based in Paris that explores design for additive manufacturing in a distributed scale. Together we collaborate in a project for the academy called “The Turtleclub”, a company that designs 3D printed devices to solve small functional needs at home with recycled plastic. This week we had a brief chat with Laetitia where we had a chance to ask how does it look to design for additive manufacturing in small scales, and how the materiality of recycled inputs nurtures design.
- How did you got involved with the design and production of 3D printed products?
I started working with 3D printing quite by accident. When we started my design studio with a friend, Warren, we quickly realized that as young designers prototyping and producing things can get really expensive. Warren already had a 3D printer when we started to create projects together, we were just doing prototypes at first and then gradually it became our way of production.
- What do you think is the main affordance that 3Dprinting gives you as a designer?
3D printing as a mode of production has various advantages, in particular it allows us to work with very little stock and to have our own machines. Today, we work with four printers which allows us to respond to our orders fairly quickly, especially as we think about our objects taking into account their manufacturing time to optimize our production as much as possible.
- The 2.20 candleholder is very interesting because it seems to exploit the shape and transparency of your plastic, where do you start when designing products like these with 3D printing?
It was when we started producing our objects with 3D printing that we realized that the combination of a colored element and a transparent element worked very well to show buyers the different parts of a fully 3D printed product. For the 2.20 candlesticks we find this principle with the transparent, decorative part on the outside and the colored, functional part on the inside.
- Looking at the mimo vase, what kind of complementary relationships do you find between 3Dprinted plastic and other materials?
I find the idea of combining everyday objects that can be found at home, or that had to go in the trash with 3D printed objects to enhance them, interesting. With the mimo vase, we reuse supermarket food jars to create a vase. By adding the 3D printed piece, the look of the object changes from waste to decorative element.
- What have you learnt during the turtle club project that could inform your design process?
During the turtle club project I learned that creating an idea doesn’t have to start with a shape. I found it very interesting to create this project around an idea, several desires without having a precise idea of the shape of the final object. This allowed us to be free on our intentions and at the same time allowed us to put constraints on our future object.
It is very exciting to see how this transformation from current manufacturing practices to new distributed and sustainable ones is playing around the world. Working with Laetitia has been very interesting. Please have a look at Warren & Laetitia’s shop and follow the Distributed Design Platform.