Hybrid Design – exploring digital fabrication and traditional craft, for emotional value and product longevity.

Supervisor: Rina Bernabei

Digital fabrication technologies are changing the face of disciplines (Gershenfeld 2008). It is now the norm for a product designer to undertake almost the entire design process, from creation to fabrication, using digital means. Yet, at the same time, traditional crafts are experiencing a resurgence, with hand-crafted artifacts highly valued in a world of cheap mass production (Levine 2008). There is now an increasing number of design practitioners and researchers, investigating how to merge traditional craft forms and qualities, with those of digital fabrication. This is crafting a new design story and practice paradigm.

Computational digital design allows for new explorations of forms and materials, without the constraints of traditional mass manufacturing. Manufacturing methods of digital fabrication such as 3D scanning, printing and digital CNC and robotics has changed the practice of designers, architects and artists. This new palette of tools has opened the door to the possibilities of new forms and differing levels of engagement for the practitioner. To aid in defining the new values of these technologies we can look towards craft which offers emotional connections between the designer, materials and the product.

Through the immediate and intricate design process of digital fabrication, and the emotionally laden values of traditional crafts and making techniques, I ask students to examine how new and old forms, modes of making and visual languages may be explored to create ‘hybrid’ forms and languages, applications and emotional value.

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