This week designer spotlight highlights Virginia San Fratello for Emerging Objects. Emerging Objects is a pioneering design and research company that specializes in designing and 3D printing objects for the built environment. The shop is full of lovely designs from rings to vases.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I am a principal in the design studio Rael San Fratello, a creative partner in the 3D printing start up company Emerging Objects and a professor of design at San Jose State University. I’m located in Oakland CA.
What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Emerging Objects started as a company that develops materials for 3D printing. We started by 3D printing with materials such as sand, cement, wood, clay, chocolate and salt. Since then we’ve moved into designing for the built environment, we have focused on printing geometrically complex, functional tiles and objects using some of the materials we have developed: ceramics, cement, salt, rubber and various kinds of wood. We also design 3D printed body and tabletop accessories – many of which can be purchased on Shapeways! We have 3D printed an entire room out of salt from the San Francisco Bay – it’s called the Saltygloo. Our designs are usually inspired by forms in nature such as barnacles, flowers, vertebrae and cellular structures. Often times the jewelry pieces we design are study models or prototypes for larger pieces. For example, the picoroco rings are studies for the picoroco wall and the involute necklace is a study for a sound attenuation screen made of doubly curved surfaces. The Tubey ring is a study model for a light fixture.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
We found Shapeways several years ago and have found it to be of great service. We mostly print with metal and nylon on Shapeways since those are materials that we don’t typically print in-house.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I learned how to design in 3D as part of my architectural education.
How do you promote your work?
We display our work at shows such as the 3D Printer World Expo, we’ve also taken examples of our work to Makerfaire in San Mateo several times. Our work is frequently published in magazines such as Metropolis, Wired and Architect and more recently we are starting to show our work at museums and galleries around the country including the Cooper Hewitt and the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design. It’s really exciting to have venues such as online magazines where you can reach a large audience but to also have opportunities for people to more closely examine the material qualities and designs physically and not just digitally. Material and texture are so important to design.
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I’m inspired by designers and thinkers like Bernard Rudolfsky and his books “The Unfashionable Human Body”. Frederick Kiesler was an inspiration for me as an architecture student and he continues to be influential in the forms that we make. I admire the work of contemporary architects such as Herzog and DeMeuron, Peter Zumthor and Jeanne Gang. Artists whose work I like include Tara Donavan, Anthony Gormley, Rachel Whiteread, Do-Ho Suh, Olafur Elliason, Maya Lin – I’m just barely scratching the surface here there are so many artists and designers whose work I find influential.
In the Shapeways community I have found Nervous Systems to be particularly inspiring because of the algorithms they have developed for users to create such beautiful and functional forms. I also particularly enjoy the wearable and bicycle planters by Colleen Jordan and I think the way Summerized uses materials with such frugality to make such elegant designs is so smart.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
Our goal is to 3D print a building – maybe a museum, a temple or a house!
WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT THIS SHOP:
- Really fun designs
- Great photography
- Great variety of materials
- Fun variety of products from rings to home goods