3D Printed Furniture: 12 Designs That Explore Digital Craftsmanship
Can you imagine being able to prototype a piece of furniture at the touch of a button and testing it in just a few hours? This might become a common practice sooner than we may think. Fueled by material innovation, automation and cutting-edge technology, a new era in home decor is emerging; one where 3D printing opens up a world of creative possibilities that transcend the bounds of traditional design. Yes, furniture is still mass-produced using conventional methods –molding, cutting, bending–, but 3D printing continues to disrupt the industry. As the revolutionary technology evolves and becomes more accessible, it has unleashed an unparalleled level of creative expression and efficiency. The concept is simple: a digital design is created using 3D modeling software and then printed, layer by layer, in the form of a physical object, bringing complex geometries to life. It’s a whole new kind of digital craftsmanship.
3D printing streamlines, simplifies and reduces the cost of designing furniture. Quickly and with great precision, it is possible to test multiple prototypes and develop customized pieces that are not restrained by conventional taste. Architects and designers have the freedom to experiment with new forms and styles, often resulting in intricate designs that are impossible to produce with traditional molds. At the same time, additive manufacturing methods open the door for more sustainable production processes: they can use upcycled materials; furniture parts can be produced in small quantities or on-demand, which reduces waste; and the ability to create digital files remotely and manufacture locally can reduce carbon emissions by cutting long haul transport.
To inspire architects, designers and homeowners delving into the world of 3D printed furniture, below we present a selection of skillfully crafted designs. Exploring different materials, aesthetics and creative processes, these provide a glimpse into the vast potential of 3D printing technology in contemporary architecture.
The Gradient Furniture Collection showcases a series of functional objects inspired by the beauty of mathematical aesthetics and color gradients. The collection features benches, chairs and vases developed using an advanced 3D concrete printing process, which involves adding dye to the material as it passes through the nozzle. This translates into a mesmerizing graduated color scheme that could not have been achieved through traditional dyeing methods.
Including two large sofas, two chairs and a 7.3-meter-long bench, this series is an extensive commission of custom-made furniture for a private client. The standalone pieces are made out of 3D printed concrete based on white cement for a permanent outdoor environment. Because concrete often requires reinforcement, Aduatz developed a customized, semi-automatic strategy using a combination of glass-fiber rods and carbon textile materials that were integrated seamlessly into the design and proved to be effective and high-performing.
Evoking the floral world and the circularity of the seasons, the fluid aesthetic of these sculptural coffee tables is the result of a new material technology. Organic and sinuous shapes “are combined with a geometric regularity to symbolize the regeneration of natural cycles, recalling the sustainable material used for the tables,” says NYXO Studio. Skillfully crafted from 3D printed lightweight foaming bioplastic (PLA), each piece’s patterns evolve with height, becoming more complex –and colorful– from the base to the top.
For the Desert Collection, designers were inspired by the fossil dunes of Abu Dhabi’s desert. The layering of 3D printing creates the table in the same way that the layering of sand over time creates fossils, replicating the texture of desert sand. Printed with foaming PLA –derived from renewable, organic sources such as corn starch or sugar cane–, the bold geometry becomes a testament to the creative possibilities offered by additive manufacturing methods.
The Second Furniture Series is modeled after the shapes and textures of marine life and digitally crafted from upcycled marine plastic. Giving a second life to ghost nets dumped in the ocean, the 3D printed designs –including vases, benches and chairs– are 100% circular and come in a variety of designs and colors. The goal is to promote sustainability and connect users to a major environmental problem, using technological and cultural innovation to re-imagine an ecosystem where marine plastic is the new raw material for a new economy.
Following a zero-waste approach, the monolithic seat of the Ermis Chair is characterized by simple and ergonomic lines. It is robotically crafted with a single spiral plastic thread that follows the geometry and creates a unique graphic texture on its surface while using minimum materials. The 3D printed chairs are made from The New Raw’s own waste materials, turning them into durable, high-quality and one-of-a-kind objects that can be reused time and time again until they reach their end-of-life.
Along with the Rise Chair, the Bow Chair is the latest example of ZHA’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of 3D printing and material experimentation. The chair takes inspiration from structures typically found in nature and solidifies them in PLA. With its intricate spatial patterns and color gradients, the Bow Chair transcends the typical definition of furniture, demonstrating how imaginative design can take furniture to new heights.
Acting as a high stool, table, stand-alone sculpture or whatever the user needs it to be, the Robotica TM chair takes form at the convergence of two fields: botany and robotics. The robotic, polymer dispensing arm allows for a vertical layup, stepping outward or inward to create gradual form deposition. This way, the design combines the natural programming in nature with robotic programming to create a multifunctional product made of PLA.
Mawj –the Arabic word for “wave, undulate, crisp or ripple”– is a name that reflects the concept behind this design. Using minimal materials, the Mawj Chair investigates the possibilities of robotic 3D printing for producing bespoke furniture. The shape is based on a continuous form, printed on its side with a thickness of just 6 mm, using advanced plastic polymers. Reminiscent of the Arabian sea, the undulating patterns of the aquamarine green surface aid in the structural stiffness of the chair, as well as ensuring practicality, comfort and an eye-catching aesthetic.
In an effort to prevent them from ending up in the ocean, Interesting Times Gang has upcycled fishing nets into an innovative material used for the 3D printed Kelp Chair –named after the disappearing Kelp forests affected by marine pollution. With a geometry inspired by the lines and silhouettes found in ocean vegetation, the circular design combines recycled fishing nets with wood fiber, introducing a new vision of what can be achieved with large-scale 3D printed furniture made of recycled waste.
The CORAIL Dining Table boasts a 3D printed concrete base with flowing walls that supports a tempered glass top. Although the undulating form is reminiscent of fungi found in trees, coral reef colonies or giant shells, its shape and texture are fully customizable. Roche Bobois has developed innovative software that customers can use at home or with an in-store advisor to help craft the object. The resulting “code” feeds the 3D printer, creating completely unique designs that suit users’ specific needs.
Conveying an innovative yet organic expression, the Reform Lounge Chair transmits the beauty of nature. The sculptural and bold design is entirely made from a wood-based biocomposite crafted with 3D technology, making it sustainable to produce, use and recycle. Art and technology merge into high-quality pieces that are comfortable, durable and suitable for indoor and outdoor use –all while paving the road toward circular, sustainable furniture production.