Stephanie Benoit February 28, 2018

Every year, a Belgian designer is nominated as the Designer of the Year by the Biënnale Interieur, Knack Weekend and the Design Museum in Gent. This year’s winner was none other than Unfold, a design duo composed of Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen. We’ve had the privilege of collaborating together with Unfold on a number of their pieces, which are now on display at the Design Museum of Gent as part of a solo exhibition in honor of the Designer of the Year award. A parallel exhibition called “Hello Robot” is also being held at the same time and builds on the themes of design exploration at the intersection of man and machine.

Skafaldo desk light by Unfold

For the last 10 years, 3D Printing has been central to the designs created by Unfold. It isn’t just a production technique for them, but also an important talking point which they explore in their designs. Previous projects include glass vases blown inside a 3D-printed ceramic foot, as well as a virtual potter’s wheel which can be used to sculpt digital ceramic vases. For them, 3D Printing is the perfect combination between artisanal, customized creation and high-tech production methods.

Support structure for the Skafaldo side table printed by Materialise

Two of their most recent creations include the Skafaldo table and bowl, which were created using Materialise e-Stage software. Dries and Claire originally wanted to 3D print complex metal structures and then blow glass inside them, but through a fruitful collaboration process, they shifted their focus onto support structure. Materialise e-Stage is a software program that automatically generates support structure for Stereolithography prints, and these can take hundreds of different forms calculated by the computer. When Dries and Claire found a support structure they liked, we printed it out and Factum Arte then cast the print in bronze.

Especially for the two exhibitions in Design Museum Gent, Unfold created the Skafaldo Desk Lamp #1 and #2, which also use support structure in a similar way. As Marie Pok, Director of the CID Grand-Hornu and part of the Designer of the Year jury, says about Unfold:

“How do you introduce the human aspect in technology? How do you marry man and machine? What are the boundaries of authorship and intellectual property in a world full of copies? These are some of the critical questions Unfold aims to integrate in their work. They break with traditional design methods and often engage in ambitious collaborations.”

Katrien Laporte, Director of the Design Museum Gent says, “Unfold challenges the classical roles of the designer, author, producer and consumer. They succeed in interweaving craft knowledge and new technologies in a pragmatic and critical way.”

Skafaldo bowl by Skafaldo
Skafaldo side table by Unfold

Discover Unfold’s thought-provoking designs in person at Design Museum Gent, until March 4, 2018. You can also catch a glimpse of their work at Collectible in Brussels from March 8-11, 2018.

Are you also an artist or designer looking to use 3D Printing in your projects? Learn about how we can help you on our website.

Images courtesy of Unfold.