Stephanie Benoit April 18, 2016

Antwerp-based design studio Unfold is constantly pushing the boundaries of how design intersects with modern digital manufacturing. For Milan Design Week 2016, they participated in the Belgian Matters exhibition, curated by Siegrid Demyttenaere for DAMN° magazine, along with 13 other Belgian designers each paired up with a Belgian company.

The exhibition is part of a larger framework titled “A Matter of Perception: Tradition & Technology” in the prestigious Palazzo Litta in Milan, Italy. The aim of the exhibition was to showcase how modern technology could be used to enhance and transform traditional furniture design, and together with Unfold, Materialise helped to make their project Skafaldo a reality.

Bowl and side table by Unfold
Bowl and side table by Unfold


Although Dries Verbruggen and Claire Warnier of Unfold have already worked extensively with 3D Printing, it was the first time they approached Materialise for the job. The duo originally wanted to 3D print intricate metal structures, and blow glass inside these prints. After a creative process stimulated by both parties, the project slowly shifted its focus onto the support structures used in 3D Printing.

Support structures are the black sheep of 3D Printing. While necessary to support complex objects with overhangs and shallow angles, they are hardly meant to look beautiful, let alone become a work of art in their own right.

But Dries and Claire became intrigued by their almost gothic appearance, reminiscent of a cathedral or the hyper functionality of industrial architecture apparent in the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. They were also fascinated by the seeming randomness and unpredictability of the support structure generated by Materialise e-Stage, and ended up making almost 100 different designs to trigger the different structures generated by the program.

When speaking about their experience with Materialise, Dries and Claire said “It was interesting for us to ‘design’ with the e-Stage software, which tunes into our fascination for processes where you ride on the edge of control.”

Once they had settled on a support structure they liked, Unfold had the resin prints cast in bronze by Factum Arte, and used traditional manufacturing to create the wooden tabletop and glass bowl. From the 22nd of April onwards, the Skafaldo table and bowl will also be visible in Belgium, as Unfold is hosting a solo exhibition in the Valerie Traan Gallery in Antwerp called Unfold/Recollected.

Interested in finding out more about 3D printed art and design? Read about our artistic collaborations here.

All images are courtesy of Unfold.