Sentient Skin (2014)

Sentient Skin (2014)

Tahi Rewiri-Chrastecky

Sentience: 3D Printed Living Products(2014)

What does the future have in store for us? A future owning us or owned by us? New technologies open up possibilities for future applications and they encourage thinking about what kind of future we will be designing for. A significant part of owning our future is owning the emotions objects can evoke. In his thesis Tahi Rewiri–Chrastecky discusses the possibilities of creating products that can interact with their environment. He believes living products could generate new ways of understanding product interaction and functionality.

Creating connections

As information processing power increases manifold in our daily lives and creates products that can predict our actions, the mechanical and artificial appearances create a dichotomy within us. The close and intimate knowledge displayed usually by family, friends and pets seems incongruous coming from an inanimate and unresponsive object like our increasingly smarter smart phones. In contrast, creating products that have an extended range of personalized expressions will make connections that ultimately can improve our quality of life.

Tahi Rewiri–Chrastecky

Coming to Victoria University in Wellington (New Zealand) Tahi was able to able to explore a range of applications for his passions for drawing and making things. At VUW he had the full range of traditional and emerging technologies of the INDN department/school? at his disposal, as well as the world renowned knowledge base and teaching staff guiding him to explore and discover his own potential.  The encouragement to dream rather than follow a prescribed course of learning gave him the freedom to expand his horizons, which culminated in his Master of Design Innovation thesis (Sentience, 2014) discussing under supervision of Ross Stevens the potential of 3D printed living products.


As a case study he chose the iPhone 5s with its latest sensory interactive display and created a back and side cover that complemented this aspect. Current sensory technology protects access through fingerprint identification. Tahi took this idea further by creating a cover that would react more like a sentient being to the touch of a known owner or unknown entity. Following an exhaustive material and design exploration, he created a cover that was able to communicate a range of feelings/reactions through reactive behaviour. The material would move in a soothing and affirming pattern at the stroke of the owner or present an aggressive and protective posture at the hands of a stranger. Similar to the behaviour of a dog, wagging its tail at the beloved owner, but barking ferociously at a threatening stranger.

Materials and processes – close up


This project was designed and rendered in Solidworks.


Printing was done on the in-house Stratasys Connex 2 printer with Vero White and Tango Clear materials.

Project level

Master of Design Innovation Research Portfolio submission, MDI, supervisor Ross Stevens.