Interactive Organism – Chromatose (2016)

Interactive Organism – Chromatose (2016)

Inspired by nature

Nature’s colourful display of sizes, shapes and colours astounds and inspires our creators’ minds. Particularly fascinating are some animals and plants that interact with their environment in a unique way: through touch they can change their shape or colour. Unfortunately our desire to experience this at home is at odds with their demise as they get cut and transplanted into a vase.

Mark Wilson resolved this dichotomy by using the latest 3D multi- material and multi-colour printer Connex3 by Stratasys to develop a set of responsive designs. Under supervision of Tim Miller, Mark created a family of objects which display obvious ‘family traits’ and at the same time present individual characteristics. Splicing the mechanics of a Venus flytrap with the intricate details and exuberant colours of a Fuchsia or Cephalopods Mark’s Chromatose project evokes a range of emotions and reactions. As the micro-pneumatic mechanism opens the blossoms to reveal their colourful inside parts, a gentle touch will close them shut again.

Materials and Processes – close-up


Rhino5 + Grasshopper plug-in, KeyShot


Mark was able to utilize the latest range of rubber-like materials (Tango and polymer Vero) with the Objet350 Connex3. The material range had been extended to not only offer a larger range of elastomer characteristics, but also an expanded colour palette.

Project level

Post-graduate, Course name: Creative Digital Manufacturing INDN 441, course coordinator: Tim Miller.

Protective technology

For this project Mark designed leaflets made from Tango, a rubber-like material, and Vero which were printed in a concave shape. Each leaflet has small channels embedded within them, which allows them to be opened pneumatically and change from a concave to a convex shape. With just a light touch, they snap back into their concave position. Chromatose demonstrates how current 3D printing technology enables our admiration of a natural process using elasticity, turgor and growth to be translated into a design for our human and digital environment enriching our lives without endangering nature.

Mark Wilson

Mark wanted to study something that would enable him to help people and improve their lives on multiple levels. The Design Innovation stream/course at VUW not only teaches traditional design methods and applications, but exposed Mark also to a different and forward-thinking approach to design: exploring and pushing not just the current technology, but the latest in digital technologies and finding innovative applications for them to resolve social, medical or cultural issues.