Designer Spotlight: Karl Sims

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Karl Sims,
an artist and software developer based in Massachusetts. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I’m a digital media artist and visual effects software developer in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What’s the story behind your designs?
I’ve been developing software to explore interactive effects, visualize mathematics, and experiment with image processing. I recently modified this to also allow the generation of 3D shapes, so I can enter a mathematical description or a short program and it will output an object file which can then be 3D printed.  (Arbitrary density and color functions of xyz coordinates are converted into a mesh of polygons.)  This is an unusual way of designing 3D models because no CAD modeling system is involved, just software and equations, but it has been very efficient for creating certain new types of models.

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by biological and mathematical patterns and processes. I enjoy creating things that have an organic feel to them, even though they’re made by digital simulation. In the “Mosaic Egg” series I explored icosahedral symmetry and spherical cellular patterns. The bracelets incorporated various sinusoid, helix, and Voronoi shapes. I’ve also been experimenting with fractals and reaction-diffusion systems.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Shapeways makes experimenting easy because I don’t need to deal with owning or managing my own printers, and it makes distribution easy because I don’t need to deal with orders or shipping.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I’d have to say Bathsheba because she’s done a great job making models with mathematical beauty, some of which even have a practical use.  The Strandbeests also seem like good fun.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Giant sculptures, play structures, and even houses!

Check out all of the awesome products by Karl in his Shapeways Shop or his website. If you’d like to be featured, email aimee@shapeways.com.

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