One of the prettiest 3D print creations we’ve seen this week is this Cellular Lamp (left) from Nervous System. It may not be the first cellular light casing but it is one of the most intricate, with its designers’ usual mixture of clear functionality and organic complexity.
At 148mm tall and containing a jigsaw of overhangs, printing it will require more equipment than an average desktop device. Like all of Nervous System’s designs, however, the minimal use of filament makes it a very affordable file to fire off.
If you haven’t heard of it before, Nervous System is a design team that makes 3D printed art, jewellery and furniture based on natural forms and the processes that create them. Most interestingly of all, however, is its commitment to democratising 3D printing creativity with a series of user-friendly online applets.
These approachable, open-source tools allow customers to re-design items and create their own pieces. If you are interested in learning more about how 3D objects are manipulated and made, this is an important place to look.
“The intersection of science, art and technology”
Nervous System is the brainchild of Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, who co-founded the company in 2007. Their vision was to combine cutting-edge science, art and technology and take them into new areas of interactivity and openness. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Nervous System’s team of seven creative minds use algorithms and geometric concepts to produce truly one-of-a-kind pieces. At once, the items appear both man-made and natural, both mechanically manufactured and random.
Yet Nervous System does not wish to create a ‘specific form’. As it puts it on its uncompromisingly brainy website:
We craft a system whose result is a myriad of distinct creations. These systems are interactive, responding both to changes in specific variables and to physical inputs. There is no definitive, final product, instead the many designs created allow for mass customization.
It’s also an ethical company, with a focus upon open sourced systems and affordable technology. The site is well-worth checking out, to both browse the hypnotic products and to play with the design apps. Of the latter, there are three highly recommended tools on offer, all of which can be run in your browser.
One is Cell Cycle, which allows you to twist, turn, reduce, enlarge, reshape and manipulate a mesh of cells to create complex patterns that would be impossible to make by subtractive manufacturing processes. The real key to this applet, however, is simplicity. It is one of the clearest 3D printing design tools online, with an intuitive, logically laid-out interface.
Determinedly boundary-pushing and steadfast in its commitment to the democratization of the technology, Nervous System’s concepts and prints show best what additive manufacturing offers: precise customization, extreme complexity and an open-ended creativity, upon which others can build. Anybody interested in the art of 3D printing should pay attention to this maverick team.