Bioart, minimalist architecture, haptic digits, 3D-printed new materials… winners in review of the 6th edition of the YouFab international competition for digital fabrication.
Tokyo, from our correspondent
Each year, the number of projects competing for the prestigious YouFab Awards organized by Fabcafe Tokyo increases. Among these, a couple dozen are selected as finalists and, once the winners have been announced, exhibited in Tokyo. For YouFab 2017, 20 projects were shortlisted from 227 works and prototypes submitted from 26 countries. The winners and finalists will be exhibited at Good Design Marunouchi gallery from February 9-23, 2018.
This year, among the five prizewinners, two artworks were conceived in the United States, two prototypes were developed in the United Kingdom, and the student prize was awarded to an experimental Japanese project. As if to confirm that the success of a prototype is intimately linked to the material, logistical and media resources behind it. Meanwhile, the awards never fail to attract a fair number of homegrown Japanese projects.
YouFab awards in review
The grand prize was awarded to Regenerative Reliquary by American bioartist Amy Karle, created during a residency at Autodesk’s Pier 9 in San Francisco. The piece is both an artwork of refined esthetics and an illustration of technological developments in cell culture and 3D-printing living matter. Inspired by the human skeleton, the centerpiece is a hand-shaped scaffold, printed in biodegradable Pegda (Polyethylene glycol Diacrylate) hydrogel, to support a culture of Mesenchymal stem cells… A very sci-fi installation for growing human tissue inside a transparent bioreactor-incubator. Beyond the esthetics of a luminous hand submerged in nurturing fluid, the concept could also be applied to personalized medical prosthetics, grown from the patient’s own body cells. As a bonus, the artist shared her entire process on Instructables.
Amy Karle, “Bringing Bones to Life”, presentation:
First prize went to Minima | Maxima, a pavilion designed for Expo 2017 in Astana, Kazakhstan, by the architect Marc Fornes and his New York-based studio TheVeryMany. The sculpture is the culmination of his research in “structural stripes”—ultrathin, ultralight strips of aluminum that form the self-supporting curvatures of its algorithmic mesh architecture. The high-tech, eco-conscious pavilion is now a permanent public structure of this rapidly developing city.
Marc Fornes, “The Stripes Effect”, presentation:
The general award went to London-based Oluwaseyi Sosanya’s 3D Weaver, a CNC loom that weaves patterns in yarn reinforced with liquid silicon. The resulting textile could be used for flexible, more comfortable suits of armor in combat, or for springy sneaker soles on rugged terrains. This 2014 project is reminiscent of the first 3D printers specialized in printing new materials… and is still awaiting its killer app.
“3D Weaver”, Oluwaseyi Sosanya, presentation:
In collaboration with the Haptic Design organization, the haptic prize was awarded to The Third Thumb, a playful prototype by the UK-based New Zealand designer Dani Clode in the form of a thumb… controlled by your feet.
“The Third Thumb Project”, Dani Clode, presentation:
Exploring another haptic angle, the student award spotlighted the experimental project Spring-Pen, a stylus with a flexible tip that can be printed and customized to suit individual writing and painting preferences. The members of the team behind the prototype, part of the ever-prolific Digital Nature Group at the University of Tsukuba, promise to share their recipe.
Makery’s honorable mentions
Difficult to compare projects when all categories are combined and contestants range from MIT researchers to the lone maker, but here are a couple of our favorites.
Nicolas Kisic Aguirre’s Modular Rhythm Machine is a pure product of DIY maker music. The modular drum can be assembled into various installations that (de)construct mechanical and visual rhythms, using servomotors attached to wooden elements. This musical instrument was developed by the Peruvian architect during Fab Academy in Providence, USA, in 2016.
“Modular Rhythm Machine”, Nicolas Kisic Aguirre, presentation:
More hacked and constantly evolving, Sarah Petkus’s Noodlefeet is an offbeat robotics project by a true maker at heart. Sarah is an American blogger, maker, illustrator, YouTuber… who develops her Noodlefeet robot child as would an artist, questioning our (and his) notion of humanity. During a Hackaday talk entitled “Tasting Feet” that she gave in California last November, a fellow maker asked her what Noodlefeet really tasted. This led her to undertake a series of food tests, before transforming one of his legs into a bean dispenser… Because she intends to let her robot “grow and evolve like a human or an organism that matures with age”.
Noodle in the European Space Agency’s Mars-simulating sandbox, August 2017: