Tessa’s Designer Pick – Nendo and 3D Printing


Tessa Blokland  

Un-printed Material. Photo by Akihiro Yoshida

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Japanese design studio Nendo. I have been following Nendo from the beginning. In 2002 I saw them at Tokyo Designers’ Block presenting a small box attached to a lamppost. Since then every year they have been growing and presenting the most incredible products and projects. We have featured Nendo in several posts but I think they deserve to be November’s Designer Pick! I like Nendo because they know how to work with materials and how to shape them; 3D printing is just one of the techniques they use to shape their ideas. Here are a few examples.

I  have seen the following with my own eyes, otherwise, I would not have believed this was 3D printed. Un-printed material, as the exhibition was called, is a homage to paper, which graphic designers use as a medium to express their ideas. Instead of presenting paper itself, Nendo 3D printed A1 sized outline of posters and A5 sized postcards. The 3D printed objects look very fragile (and I guess they are), capturing the essence of paper as a material – the result looks amazing.

The 3D printed Diamond chair is an attempt to show the furniture industry how a chair can be manufactured and distributed in a more disruptive manner: it only takes 5 to 6 days to produce the chair (so no stock is needed). A manufacturer would not have to worry about keeping it in stock, and overseas orders could be filled by sending data for production instead of the product itself, drastically cutting shipping time and cost. The construction of the chair comes from a diamond’s atomic structure, adding thickness where users need support, and carving away the material into a thinner, more flexible and responsive thickness in places where users want comfort.

In 2010, Nendo presented Chair Garden at Galleria Jannone during the Milan Design Week, consisting of many tiny plant pots with chairs growing out of the pots. Although I could not find the manufacturing technique, I am almost positive all the objects are 3D printed. Some chairs have grown in such odd shapes which only can be created using 3D printing.

For Kenzoki, Nendo created an installation that captured and expressed the concepts behind the brand, a skincare line that pleases all five senses by taking full advantage of the natural elements found in plants. Nendo translated one of the used fragrances, the white lotus, into a 3D printed structure of leaf veins. The fragrance would be released by moving the 3D printed shape gently in the air. It is only because of this technique that Nendo was able to make such a fragile yet strong enough structure.

The last project also combines fragrance with 3D printing. The bottle cap is 3D printed, allowing small-batch manufacturing, which in turn enables changing the design with the seasons and creating a porous structure that releases fragrance efficiently and effectively.

LEO Lane_Designer Pick_Nendo and 3D Printing

Each of Tessa’s designer pick is a curated group of 3D printed designs or projects from one designer or design studio. If you would like to offer a designer or design studio for Tessa, or if you have your own 3D printed designs or projects you would like to see featured, please let us know by commenting below. Subscribe to the newsletter to get the latest picks every week in your mailbox.

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