Joris Laarman Lab shows the future of digital design


According to Joris Laarman,

We are living in fascinating times. An ordinary person has access to more information today than any world leader or Nobel laureate in the past. We are the children of a period of transition: one foot in the industrial age and the other in the digital age … Will robots resume all our work within ten years? Or will developments in digital manufacturing ensure that craftsmanship and a love for the way things are made will be at the heart of society again? In any case, we are on the verge of big changes.

The Joris Laarman Lab uses the latest and most powerful technologies to craft beautiful objects, many of which are on display at the Cooper Hewitt in New York.

The physical world is unruly and beautiful for the unpredictability and limitations that make it necessary to experiment in order to gain control over something over time. But rather than something nostalgic, craftsmanship should be seen as something in constant evolution and which, with the help of high-tech tools, should be at the heart of society.


credit: Lloyd Alter / Armchair

This chair, made in 2007 when 3D printing was just starting to grab people’s attention, is a great example of how they think and work. The technology was relatively primitive, but they designed the chair and 3D printed a very expensive mold with 91 parts. They then mixed resin with white Carrara marble powder and filled the mold. “None of us had any experience with such a thing and we didn’t know if it would work.” He did, and it is a thing of extraordinary beauty, now in the permanent collection of the High Museum in Atlanta. Watch how it’s done:

Making of Arm Chair by anita star on Vimeo.

End caps and parts

credit: Lloyd Alter

But most people don’t have access to the kind of computers and printers the lab has, so they also designed chairs that anyone can make with any additive 3D printer. It is the first chair “made by the crowd”. If you have a small machine, you can download blueprints for this chair from, print all the small parts, and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle. I wonder what Charles Eames would have thought of that.

Bits & Parts of anita star on Vimeo.

credit: Lloyd Alter

Here are more models from the Maker chair series, all made up of 3D printed parts that fit together like a puzzle, making digital design and production accessible to a wider audience using many types of machines.

We believe that in a few years every major city will have professional production workshops as well as collective manufacturing centers for DIY makers. In the tradition of the early modernists, who often created textbooks of their designs so that people could reproduce their work at low cost, the blueprints of the 3D printable versions of the Makerchairs were made available on the Internet under a Creative Commons license to them. people. to download, modify and manufacture themselves.

Makerchair Voronoi from anita star on Vimeo.

credit: Lloyd Alter / Digital Matter

Not all of their work is 3D printed; it’s like an 8-bit version of a rococo table, built from small cubes of metal by robots. They were created for the High Museum in order to demonstrate “a future design direction based on the technology to come”.

We don’t see the resulting objects as the end goal, but as frozen moments in continuous development. Projects like this tell us a lot about what robots can and cannot do. In a way, this facility contributes to our aspiration to develop a very practical, versatile and low cost robotic manufacturing unit that can operate anywhere in the world. We believe that a hybrid form of digital manufacturing and local craftsmanship is the future of a more democratic design world, and with the help of new technologies, we hope that in a few years everyone will be able to enjoy themselves. offer good locally made design.

Installation of digital material from anita star on Vimeo.

Gradient screen

credit: Lloyd Alter / Degraded screen

Here, the Lab works with heavy metal. “For each new form, a specific strategy language is developed, resulting in a large library of strategies that will become self-taught in the near future.” And, in fact, they are using this technology to make a bridge that will be installed over a canal in Amsterdam.

Gradient Screen Making Of (2017) by anita star on Vimeo.

credit: Lloyd Alter

So why is it on TreeHugger? About a decade ago, we started looking at the implications of what we called downloadable design, envisioning a time when “we’ll download design on demand.” , without the waste of a physical middleman. “We watched the development of home 3D printers and shared the hype. In the end, it was mostly hype; design is difficult. But the Joris Laarman Lab shows that in the hands of true artists, these technologies are changing design, changing the way things are done and creating wonderful opportunities. Last word to Joris Laarman:

When people see a robot, they see a solution to a problem or even the problem itself. I see an instrument for creating intelligent beauty.


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