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What is Old Can be New Again

Jun 02, 2017

Brittanywhitmore Hs2 Edit By Brittany Whitmore

Very recently, I had the fortune of announcing Annalisa Capurro as an official member of the Print The Future advisory board. Ms. Capurro is a noted interior designer and design educator based in Sydney, Australia.

Ms. Capurro is passionate about the protection and preservation of mid-century architecture and the owner of what I learned is the famous “Jack House” in Sydney. The house was designed in 1956 and has been recognized by some of the most prestigious design awards.

According to Ms. Capurro, the house encapsulates modernist design principles such as modesty of scale, connection to site and nature, honesty of materiality, perfect orientation, and a strong indoor and outdoor connection. 

When I learned that Ms. Capurro may be designing a collection of furniture with these modernist design principles and have it produced by Print The Future, I was struck by a new idea - that Print The Future... can print the past!

3D-printing eliminates the need for specialized construction and materials, and even eliminates the time typically required for highly specialized and intricate work.

Certainly, it is true that the appropriate schematics, materials and design files for the printer are needed, but when one considers the sheer variety of items that can be produced with this particular skill set, it is clear rather quickly that this could be considered a more powerful skill than learning a particular type of traditional furniture construction. One specialized skill set, rather than an infinite number of possible skill sets related to woodworking, metalworking and more. A vast toolkit is unnecessary, and the ability to scale mass-customized pieces is realized.

With this, we are now empowered to recreate merchandise from any era we choose. So rather than searching for that perfect end table with a “modernist twist” you can simply include those characteristics in the design file and a 3D-printer can follow the directions perfectly.

Unique and special pieces can be selected or created by anyone - a retail experience such as Print The Future enables people to come in with an idea and 3D-print it on demand. And this includes ideas inspired by any time period in history.

Never before has so much information been so plentiful and accessible, a few quick searches online and I can easily learn key design elements from nearly any point of time in history. This means that historically inspired ideation can be well-informed and pieces can be imagined and printed with authentic features.

Trends come and go, colours, shapes and textures often find their homes at particular points in history or geography, and can be difficult to come by otherwise. This means that for traditionally produced furniture, access to specific designs could typically be costly, time-consuming and occasionally completely fruitless.

The ability to not only mass-produce, but mass-customize makes me wonder, when 3D-printed furniture becomes the norm based on its simplicity, economic viability and environmental benefits, will there remain a selection of people who choose to collect furniture made the traditional way? In the same way that people collect vinyl record albums? I see a strong parallel: it was much more costly and difficult to produce music 50 years ago, I will never forget what I learned while watching a Pink Floyd documentary that when a musician wanted to create a “loop” - a sound that repeats, they would physically record the sound and attach the tape together at the ends with scotch tape to form a circle, a physical loop that could be played and recorded. Nowadays, we push a button.

We now see thousands of independent musicians producing and distributing original music online. Print The Future can have the same impact for design, anyone can have their creations printed within mere hours or days.

This is similar to the way that YouTube has democratized video and content distribution. A great example that demonstrates the contrast of past and present is Speakers’ Corner. When this program was launched, CityTV the television station was certainly ahead of its time conceptually, developing a strategy for user generated content that included installing cameras on the side of the studio and allowing the public to record short videos and submit them to be played on television once a week. While at the time, this was an exciting and revolutionary concept - today it seems ridiculous to install camera and audio equipment on the side of a building, because anyone with access to a smartphone and the internet can easily and quickly film, edit and upload videos to YouTube. 

Innovation for creatives of all kinds, from musician to cinematographers to designers will contribute to a more diverse and beautiful world, where we all can learn to understand each other better with art.

Whether the goal is to re-live a lost era, or simple acquire something completely original, Print The Future is equipped to empower anyone to print the beautiful designs of the past and the future - today.