Every few decades or centuries, a new set of skills and intellectual activities become crucial; these often simplify tasks and skills which were previously only accessible to experts. In line with this, our practice agrees that digital fabrication is a new and major chapter in this process of bringing together powerful ideas and expressive tools across diversified industries. This range of accepted disciplinary knowledge has expanded to include not only programming, but now also includes engineering, design and manufacturing.
We decided to further last week’s conversation from digital design to digital manufacturing with a field trip to Maker’s Asylum, a community space in South Bombay with a mission “to inculcate the Maker culture of hands-on learning and creative thinking, a creative platform for creative entrepreneurs to prototype their ideas.” The brain child of Vaibhav Chhabra and Anool Mahidharia, the space offers an array of 3D printers, electronics lab and prototyping tools for woodworking, robotics, bicycle building and repair, rapid prototyping, open source computer-aided design.
A quick walk through the space exposed us to limitless possibilities of these tools which we could seamlessly apply to the design and fabrication of our in-progress product/ furniture line. We discussed the applications of laser cutter and CNC milling machines only to realise that as much as it facilitates the process of design, each manufacturing tool has its own limitations. For instance, we were debating over the intricate designs of coasters in birch ply that we have been prototyping and concluded that the laser cutter allows us to cut some fine and delicate patterns. However, the finer the pattern, the longer the process and the greater the intensity of the laser – all these attribute to a burnt, smoked finish. CNC milling machines will however, give a cleaner finish but the intricacy of the design is compromised owing to the diameter of the smallest bit of the router.
All in all, as much as technology facilitates in saving time while innovating, there is always going to be a moment where human intervention will be required - in this case we will have to accept the burnt edges as a characteristic that is a result of the process. To tone down the smoky burntness we will process the new characteristic as a planned characteristic. This shall be done by exploring ways of washing or staining the ply organically with organic colours or vegetable dyes. And yes, there is always a learning curve to align the lateral thinking required to foster creativity and inventiveness.
Muse MATTERS is a series of dialogues that as a studio we shall engage in– the purpose of the dialogues is for the studio to discuss matters, ask questions, share lessons learnt and may be in the process we can make a difference. Topics discussed shall not be restricted to the field of architecture and design necessarily; they could be about an experience, a journey, a comic strip and anything in between or beyond. We will use this space to share our thoughts and blurbs.