x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Trendspotting: Hi-tech tools create new angles on design

Scientific developments are allowing designers to create new sculptural, faceted and fractured surfaces.

Phil Cuttance's Faceture vases are handmade from manipulatable moulds, meaning that no two castings are the same.
Phil Cuttance's Faceture vases are handmade from manipulatable moulds, meaning that no two castings are the same.

The past season has been marked by collaborations among scientists, designers, architects and technologists. This is part of our desire to adjust our actions to ensure a greener, cleaner, more sustainable future.

Developments in smart architecture, climate engineering and integrating technology with the human body have inspired and influenced designers. The result is a new wave of products, forms and finishes: sculptural, 3D, networked, faceted and fractured. And these are qualities that we will continue to see over the next couple of years.

My favourite examples of this trend include the exquisite Triangulation series by the Chinese designer Zhang Zhoujie. Zhang's Digital Lab explores how digital creation methods can integrate computer technology with Wu Wei (a Taoism principle meaning "actionless", or lack of intervention). Zhang's goal is to use these new digital workflows to turn the virtual into the real.

His Triangulation series looks at the relationships and interactions between faceted triangular surfaces. Zhanguses a specially developed measuring device to take a client's key measurements, then incorporates elements to create a bespoke chair. Hundreds of sensors import the details into a digital model, which when generated "grows" to meet the required shape without intervention or input - thus creating an almost "actionless" object.

At the recent Surface Design Show in London, the Austrian design duo Patrycja Domanska and Tanja Lightfoot presented their 3D room shaping tiles, Edgy. A series of asymmetrical surfaces fold onto one plane to form a hexagonal base. This allows the tiles to be positioned in any number of ways. With their concave and convex surfaces, the tiles are striking and would create the perfect feature wall in almost any room.

Phil Cuttance's Faceture series consists of handmade faceted vessels, light shades and a table. Each object is made when a water-based resin is cast into a simple mould, which is manipulated by hand to create the form. As Phil explains, "The mould's final shape and strength is dictated by which triangular facets I pop in and out. I do this each time I ready the mould for the next object, meaning that no two castings are the same. The casting takes shape complete with sharp accurate lines and a digital quality to its aesthetic, a visual surprise considering the 'lo-fi', handmade process involved."

Available in a fabulously on-trend palette of blush, grey, teal, spearmint and highlighter yellow, the surfaces reflect the light to create a very pleasing aesthetic.

Shelley Pond is the creative director of Scarlet Opus. For more information visit www.trendsblog.co.uk or twitter.com/scarletopus