We’re doing several fun events in the upcoming month, and we wanted to tell you about them.
3D Printing Night @Room 68 — April 4, 6-9pm
68 South St, Jamaica Plain, MA
Tomorrow night (April 4th) we’ll be at Room 68 from 6:00-9:00pm. Stores and galleries in Jamaica Plain stay open late on the first Thursday of each month, and our friends at Room 68 invited us to be involved. We love working with the Room 68 team, and we’re excited to be showing off a brand new cellular coffee table designed with our Radiolaria web app. You can also buy Nervous System lamps or jewelry and see a MakerBot 3D printer in action. Maybe we’ll make a 3D-printed cat for you!
Science Crawl @Xylem — April 18, 5-8pm
287 Third St, Cambridge, MA
On Thursday, April 18th, we’ll be hosting one of the stops on the Science Crawl, a Cambridge Science Festival event. We’re thankful to our friends at Xylem for letting us use their store. We hope you’ll come by and see the exhibition: we’re going to transform Xylem into a space where you can explore everything Nervous System. We’ll have all our new stuff on display, including tables, superhard jigsaw puzzles, and neon-colored jewelry. We’re also going to invite visitors to experiment with our interactive design tools, and Jesse and Jessica will be there to explain the math and science behind their designs. Ask them anything!
Somerville Open Studios @Nervous System — May 4-5, 12-6pm
561 Windsor St, Suite A206, Somerville, MA
In May, we’re going to be involved with Somerville Open Studios, a great event where artists all over Somerville invite people to see the spaces where they create. First, Nervous System will be featured at the Somerville Open Studios fashion show on May 1st. The fashion show starts at 7:30pm in the Center for Arts at the Armory. Then, on May 4th and 5th, the Nervous System studio will be open from noon til 6:00pm, and we’d love for you to come visit. We’ll be featuring our interactive design tools, and we plan to show some new experiments as well.
Our business started by accident back in 2007 when people mistook scraps from a laser cut architectural model I was building for bracelets. Intrigued and in need of cash to help cover my burdensome Harvard tuition, I listed some of them on Etsy and to my surprise, they sold…. they sold fast. Since then, we’ve found better manufacturing techniques for most of our work, like photochemical etching, waterjet cutting and 3d-printing. But we’ve never forgotten how easy and fun it was to be able to come up with an idea and prototype it immediately. No waiting weeks for parts to arrive, no excuses to not try something out as soon as it pops into your head. So ever since we stopped being students, we wanted a laser cutter of our own to play and tinker (and to produce some products in house as well!).
original accidental jewelry design, laser cut in the basement of the Harvard Design School
I’m happy to announce that we finally made the jump and purchased one. After we did our taxes, we spent about a month debating which model to get, from what company and what wattage laser. We decided on an Epilog Helix 60 watt machine with an 18″ x 24″ inch bed size. We spent about $20,000 on the machine and some more to build an exhaust system which goes out a window in our studio. We also considered the Mercury II (has a slide through bed!) from GCC Laserpro but in the end we decided on the Epilog because the 2 year warranty covers the optics in addition and the machine would be ready in half the time since they are a USA based company.
With 60 watts we can cut through thick plywood, plastics, rubber, paper, fabric, cork, etc. And it can etch coated metals like anodized aluminum. It also has a lot of useful features that the laser cutters I used in school didn’t have, like auto-focus and a vacuum table for holding down thin materials. We have switched production of our few laser cut products to be completely in house. That means when you order a Radial necklace or an Orchid necklace; we cut it in our studio on demand. We are also looking forward to launching some new applets later in the year that will allow you to customize several laser cut housewares and jewelry products. Unlike our other applets which have a turn around of 2-3 weeks for customized designs, we will be able to ship these products in the same time frame as our off the shelf items, 2-3 days!
To celebrate our new laser cutter, we decided at the last minute to create a new display to show our jewelry at ICFF. We spent one day designing it. The next day laser cutting it. And the last day assembling it. Despite our careful numbering, assembling it was VERY hard. Luckily, our friend Alec was there to help. Thanks Alec!
The design was a riff on our unimplemented designs for the New York Gift Fair from earlier in the year (read about that here). It is sort of a bunch of ellipsoids stitched together into a set of “caves” for hanging necklaces and convex regions for holding earrings and bracelets. But the part we really spent time designing was how each piece would fit together and how each shell would be discretized into panels. The panels are created using a tangent planes method to develop a non-triangular surface discretization. We worked to create a pattern spiraling six-sided panels with a somewhat elongated plant cell type shape.
Jesse wrote a Processing program to create all the connectors, place the holes in the panels and label all the pieces for “easy” construction. The connectors and panels were laser cut from baltic birch plywood and snap together for a tight fit. To cut down on assembly time we only used one connector per edge, but some of the larger panels could have definitely used a second connector.
We will be exhibiting at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair at the Javits Center in New York City from May 14 to 17, 2011. We will be showing our 3d-printed lighting designs in booth 1451 thanks to Shapeways. The Shapeways booth will also feature designs by John Briscella and Chris Hardy. The designs we show will include new pieces from our Reaction and Hyphae collections, all 3d-printed in polyamide plastic or in ceramic material with eco-friendly LED light fixtures.
We will also be exhibiting in the Designboom mart, booth 1266 where you can buy our jewelry and other souvenirs from independent designers.
So please come see our designs in booths 1451 (lighting) and 1266 (jewelry+lamps)!
As some of our long term readers may know, we have a home-made CNC router that lives in our garage. Prior to our reaction exhibit we gave the router a bit of a tune-up and added a dust collection system with the help of our friends from Sprout. Previously, we have only used the router for 2d cutting….mostly due to inaccuracies in the z-axis and lack of time to figure out how to do more complicated code to run the machine….but this time we had a couple extra days to get things going. I designed a shelf using one of our reaction-diffusion programs that had specific spaces where the porcelain prototypes of our new dinnerware line could rest. I think it came out well! The wood is cheap pine bought at our local hardware store.
Below are some in process shots. After routing the surface out with a rough pass we did a finishing pass with a small stepover and some hand sanding as well.
For our Reaction show at Rare Device, we recreated two of our design algorithms as interactive ipad applications that allow visitors in the gallery to engage in our process and try their hand at generative design. The two applications are Cell Cycle, which creates cellular bracelets and rings for 3dprinting, and Xylem which simulates leaf vein formation. The apps were made with the help of the Cinder library.
The Cell Cycle app uses a physics simulation to sculpt a mesh for 3dprinting. Visitors can use multitouch controls to stretch, twist, and scale the basic form. Using the control panel on the left they can change the basic mesh parameters and define boundary curves along the edges of the piece. Most significantly, they can also touch anywhere on the model to subdivide cells and introduce additional springs to the system.
The Xylem app allows people to paint on and erase horomone sources that will effect the venation structure’s growth. Watch the video below to get a sense of what that means.
If you are in the San Francisco area, you can play with these apps in the gallery at Rare Device, 1845 Market St.
Our exhibit at Rare Device in San Francisco starts tomorrow at 7pm. Here are some quick snap shots from the setup. It should be pretty exciting, so please come by if you are in the area. It is located at 1845 Market St.
We have packed the show with lots of new work. There are four types of 3D printing represented including a new ceramic material currently being developed by Viridis3D. We also have traditionally produced ceramic prototypes. There will be two iPad apps and videos to enable people to participate in the exhibition. In addition every piece is accompanied by explanations of the science behind the pieces, the manufacturing techniques, and our design process. For even more information, come to the opening and talk to us.
Nervous System will hold its first gallery exhibition at Rare Device in San Francisco from September 2 to October 10. The exhibition will feature new work, Reaction, in ceramics and showcase their computational designs in jewelry and housewares. The work spans art, products, and interactive media – mixing gallery, store, and playground.
Nervous System’s newest work is Reaction, a line of porcelain pieces based on a chemical patterning system called reaction diffusion which describes a hypothesized mechanism for the synthesis of the diverse patterns seen on animals, from zebra stripes and giraffe spots to the complex coloring of butterflies and tropical fish. The line features slip-cast porcelain housewares as well as ceramic pieces that are 3D printed with a novel technique. These works will be accompanied by video and interactive applications where participants can play with these systems and even create their own designs.
More than simply a display of their end product, this exhibition is about the design process – from conception to program to design to production, showcasing Nervous System’s unique blend of art, science, and craft.
Nervous System was commissioned by Disseny Hub Barcelona to create one of a kind jewelry pieces for Laboratory of Fabrication, an exhibition highlighting the possibilities of rapid prototyping. Using computational design tools we wrote for our cell cycle line, designers at DHUB created 14 unique bracelets and rings. This unprecedented form of collaboration demonstrates some of the new potential afforded by computational design and digital fabrication. The pieces were printed by Shapeways using SLS nylon. The pieces and software will be on exhibit at DHUB in Barcelona from June 15, 2010 until February 27, 2011. Images of the pieces and a video of the applet below.
During spring break I was asked to help with a project thought up by Harvard GSD Professor Ingeborg Rocker and her 1st year students. One of the 1st studio projects involved developing an aggregation, they wanted to take one of their aggregations and build it full scale using the 6-axis ABB Robot the school recently purchased. I had already been fairly successful in developing some code for the robot for an assignment for Martin Bechtold’s Construction Automation class, so I was pretty excited to give a full scale project a go.
The finished piece is two 7 foot high walls, 20 feet long with a central room/space in between. Jesse and I developed the software that allowed this to happen. We created a Rhinoscript that generates the RAPID code needed to run the machine directly from Rhino geometry. RAPID code describes the position and orientation of a series of targets and the path the robot must take between the targets as well as the configuration of the robots joints at each position and when to open and close the gripper, etc.
The whole project took the cooperation of many people. All of the bricks were cut from 2×4′s and sanded down. The wall was divided into segments that could be constructed by the robot and brought up from the basement into the Pit/lobby space where they were assembled. The whole thing is held together with wood glue and screws were used to hold the robot assembled chunks together.
I spent a lot of time coordinating day to day with the leading team (Jeff, Misa, Ben, and Teresa) and it was a lot of fun, congrats guys!
Jeff LaBoskey, Misato Odanaka, Benjamin Franceschi, Teresa McWalters
Jessica Rosenkrantz, Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Christian J. Lange, Rocker-Lange Architects
Matthew Swaidan, Tory Wolcott, Ricardo Munoz, Natalya Egon
Elizabeth Farley, Carl Koepcke, Jeongyon Kim, Eva Leung, Masana Amamiya, Matthew Fiely, Tessa Kelly, Alicia Taylor, Cara Liberatore, Lindsay Chandler-Alexander, Julian Bushman-Copp, Jessica Knobloch, Yuhka Miura, Ben Brady, Sen Ando, Theodore Diehl, Chelsea Garunay, Ka Yip, Lesley McTague, Jessica Vaughn, Jason Phipps, Paul Merrill, Annie Kountz, Jeremy Jih, Brian Militana, Brad Crane, Matt Waxman
Stephen Hickey, Martin Bechthold
Junior Faculty Grand, and Preston Scott Cohen
Since returning to school this semester at the Harvard Design School I’ve been too busy to update this blog. But we do have some exciting news. We have dramatically increased our number of retailers following our participation in A+ the Young Designers platform at the NY International Gift show in January. Two of the most exciting are the Cooper Hewitt and ICA.