But while 3D printing is allowing us to produce more precise, sustainable and cost effective methods of manufacture, it seems to lack that magic ingredient... the human hand.
A quick google search for “3D printed furniture” reveals a number of plastic based, space-age designs with webbed and cellular details, which may be intricate but lack the learned skills and humble nature of hand tooling.
Where 3D printing alone seems to have missed the aesthetics boat, subtractive methods of fabricating like laser cutting or carving with CNC machines are producing more aesthetically sensitive results, thanks to the materials they allow for, as well as their dual maker and machine relationship.
In a collaboration with the late great Zaha Hadid, UK based designer Gareth Neal’s collection of Vesels reveals rigorous and intricate carving work produced both by a CNC machine as well as Neal’s own hand tooling. “Since wood is a natural material with a grain and irregularities, it still requires skill to work with it digitally. You still need the tactile knowledge of the material, the knowledge of a craftsman, to work out the best way to cut the wood and to understand how it will flex and move,” he explains. Ultimately the great leaps we’ve made in the digital fabrication sector have left us wanting more of the human element.