ÉCAL students have set up a pop-up factory during Milan design week, where they are 3D printing a range of design objects on demand.
Called ÉCAL Digital Market, the exhibition was set up by students from the Swiss university’s Master Product Design course to explore the changing nature of the manufacturing process.
The “printing farm” is located inside Spazio Orso 16, a 17th-century palazzo in design district Brera.
Throughout the design week, it will be producing bespoke products designed by students, as well as new creations from designers including Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Thomas Kral, Sebastian Wrong and Big-Game.
According to Christophe Guberan, the project curator, the aim was to look at how mass production on demand could disrupt the design industry.
“The intention was to work with 3D printers in the scale of mass production,” he told Dezeen.
“I think that 3D printing has been democratised a lot – but what we wanted was to work on was rapid production,” he explained. “We wanted to focus on having something as large scale as possible, a printing farm to get away from this fascination of 3D technology.”
Guberan asked the designers to create objects that could be manufactured on a large scale, with everyday applications.
The result is a series of 41 objects, which include a comb, a shoe horn, a coat hook and a pair of scissors. There is also a tape dispenser, designed by Industrial Facility, a pen by Tomás Alonso and a vase by Chris Kabel.
Some of these feature complex details that would be largely impossible to create using traditional manufacturing techniques.
“We asked students and ÉCAL-related designers to propose pieces that could be produced and sold in this space,” said Guberan.
“We wanted to avoid it being a 3D printing performance exhibition, where you have crazy shapes and objects,” he added. “We didn’t want to focus on being amazed by the production technique but instead on the usability of the objects.”
To prepare for the project, students travelled to Boston to visit the printer manufacturer Formlabs, where they were given the opportunity to experiment with the technology. This informed the design of their objects.
“You’re not working on a traditional production technique,” said Guberan. “It’s not plastic insertion or moulding or casting, it’s something that has huge freedom.”
The ÉCAL Digital Market is on show at Spazio Orso 16, on Via dell’Orso, from 17 to 22 April as part of Milan design week.
All of the objects on show were printed on-site at the exhibition in black plastic. Digital files can also be purchased online, so anyone not visiting Milan can print their own copies of the objects.
Other projects on show for the design week include an installation of spinning lamps by Raw Edges and a wall of mirrors by American artist Phillip K Smith III for COS.