Metaglobs (2008)

Nature or man-made

So far humanity and most of its societies have created standardized structures for most aspects of our daily lives: square houses, doors and windows; cupboards, drawers and shelves that fill the geometric layout of our homes to store our increasingly standardized geometric belongings, literally making us fit within a box.

Up until now experiments into more natural designs have resulted in more or less crude imitations of the real thing, nature. Products that have been designed on computers and drawing boards, manufactured by all kinds of machines have so far been easily identifiable as man-made parts of our lives.

Man-made or nature

A serendipitous collaboration between Ross Stevens (industrial designer) and Michael Groufsky (generative artist) in 2008 created objects that had pushed and broken down design and manufacturing boundaries. The design experiments yielded man-made products that mimick nature not through a conscious-replicating design but through the evolution-like process of generative coding, utilizing the latest state-of-the-art 3D printers available at that time.

The industrial designer had to abandon the traditional CAD design process involving a previsualized shape with specific and exact dimensions, while concentrating on the development of aesthetic qualities within broad parameters.

The generative artist had to create code and scripts that created boundaries within which the objects could develop and create an “evolutionary” path of development for them to take shape on the screen.

Neither had any expectations of what would come out of these experiments.

Coming to Life

As with many baking recipes, the cake at the end proves whether it’s good or not. So, as the objects started to come alive on the computer screen, Ross wanted to see what they were like in real life. And realized a major flaw: part of the 3D printing process involved destroying their dynamic quality by “freezing” them in a particular moment of their development and clearly not showing them in their whole life-like existence.

Nonetheless, they looked intriguingly different to anything else that Ross had created before, in fact they appeared so out of context relative to products typically derived from industrial processes that he decided to place them in a natural pristine environment where they looked perfectly at home!

Ross realized that a less restrictive design process combining design experiments into generative code can result in naturally looking, evolved objects.

All photography and video work done by Szilard Ozorak.