The technology of direct precious metal 3D printing allows for realization of design typologies and products at a groundbreaking level of complexity and customization. The applied system-based design approach allows for developing processes independent of scale, materiality and function during the developmental phase of a project. This independence though does not mean that these factors can be neglected. They are essential in setting up the project’s constraints and frame. Throughout, the developed design typologies are inspired by natural growth strategies, driven by functional requirements equally as by machine potentials. Similar to processes in nature, the designs follow strict mathematical rules; yet the outcomes, emerging from one design setup, have an organic and unique appearance. There are two main aspects that have been of special interest for the developed designs and that became feasible economically and technically only by deeply understanding and applying generative methods – the creation of series of unique pieces and the variation through hierarchy within one single design system. The scalability of natural systems and their abstraction to an architectural scale and function has been dominating these processes – is it possible to scale natural strategies? To which extent is it possible? How can performative aspects, such as structural ability be implemented rather than purely abstracting the visual appearance? The principles of the chosen geometrical structure are then abstracted and translated into a three-dimensional model.
The developed intricate computational model inherits design, detailing, and fabrication information. These are combined within one single process, allowing for eager interaction through testing, evaluating and optimizing. Starting from a strictly system-based and mathematical design approach, the potentials of randomness and mistakes in the system are investigated, looking into natural artifacts. Natural artifacts are intriguingly beautiful and fascinating, yet never perfectly shaped in a mathematical sense. They are based on very strict mathematical rules that define their base geometry; the final outcome though is endlessly variable and differentiated. The designed process is independent of scale, materiality and function – these are considered when defining constraints and parameters. The aim is to explore how variability changes the design and thinking process, merging formerly separated disciplines. How can technology be exploited to optimize designs in order to fit in our consumer-good based society while giving back desired individuality and uniqueness? In an initial state, a geometrical system is chosen accordingly to its potential of fulfilling the functionality and material integrity of the given design problem. In a first step it can be observed on a purely mathematical level. Looking precisely into how the system’s geometry influences its performance allows for constituting similarities to the actual design requirements. Characteristics that could be relevant for the final design are filtered; these can include structural aspects, porosity, agility or simply aesthetics. The system finally is chosen accordingly to its potential of fulfilling the functionality and material integrity of the given design problem.