Jan 7, 2016 | By Kira
Stelios Mousarris is a Greece-based designer and 3D modeling artist whose aesthetic intention is to surprise his audience, combining dramatically different elements into visually simple yet powerful pieces of furniture. His most recent work, the Wave City Coffee Table, utilized 3D printing technology to merge natural with unnatural materials, organic and manmade shapes, creating a mind-bending wooden table that looks like something straight out of the movie Inception.
The Wave City Coffee Table has been making the Internet rounds this week, re-dubbed by many as the “Inception Table,” as it does indeed resemble a particularly physics-defying scene from the blockbuster hit, in which a city street actually folds up and over itself. Indeed, the table, which was constructed from a blend of wood, steel, and 3D printed parts, depicts a richly detailed cityscape that curves up and then over, until it is completely upside down.
However, after speaking with Mousarris today, I learned that despite all of the hype, Inception wasn’t part of his design inspiration at all. “Everyone keeps saying it was, but it wasn’t! I think it will be a surprise for everyone,” he said. “What [the inspiration] really was, was waves. I wanted to merge two completely different things together: the ocean, something very organic and beautiful, with buildings, something very manmade.” It wasn’t until after he had recreated his vision in real-life that a few friends pointed out how much it looked like the film, and rather than fight it, the artist decided to roll with the comparison.
In addition to combining two aesthetically opposed elements--organic waves with manmade buildings--Mousarris also combined natural with manmade materials and advanced technologies to give the table its final shape.
After designing the table using 3D modeling programs Rhino and Cinema4D—a process that the gifted young artist says took only one week—Mousarris bent an extremely thin steel frame into the desired, wave-like shape, and then covered it with a 2mm layer of veneer plywood. Next, he turned to a local 3D printing manufacturer to 3D print the dozens of finely detailed buildings that make up the cityscape.
Mousarris earned his Bachelor Degree in Modelmaking at a university in Bournemouth, UK, after which he worked in London on a project-basis at Foster+Parnter, and then as an assistant designer at Duffylondon. It was at this last position that he first began 3D modeling and 3D printing, and came to appreciate the many advantages of the technology. It was also there that he experimented with 3D printing with wood-based filament on an Ultimaker 2 3D printer.
Through his local 3D printing bureau, he was able to achieve excellent results using a very high quality wood filament. In the end, so many buildings were 3D printed, he lost count of the exact number, but all in all the 3D printing process took about one month to complete. Each 3D printed building was then glued onto the steel/wood base (he added that the city he created is completely fictional).
The finished, functional table is currently being sold for €5,000 (US$5,400), and along with the veneer plywood version, Mousarris has made a second finish using veneer oak, and he plans to create a third steel version of the City Wave table. For that model, the buildings will be 3D printed out of plastic and then finished with a steel-colored paint.
As Mousarris explained, the single biggest advantage of using 3D printing technology was that it saved him time—which translated directly into saving money. “When I say money, I mean not boosting the price for consumers beyond what it has to be,” he explained. Having studied modelmaking, he knew very well that he could create each building individually by hand, but the sheer amount of time that would take would mean charging considerably more for the finished product. Instead, using 3D printing technology to speed up the process—without comprising on detail, craftsmanship or quality—he could maintain a more reasonable price for his artwork.
As for the biggest challenge? Given the table’s unique shape, it turned out to be balance. “In order for the table to be balanced correctly, there is a lot of steel underneath of the base, because you don’t want it to be tipping over and breaking,” he explained.
After a year of work in London, Mousarris returned to his hometown of Cyprus and recently opened his own self-titled design shop, where he sells a collection of avant-garde furniture whose mere construction is sure to make you look twice. For example, the Carpet Sofa, which thanks to a curved 6mm steel frame concealed under beautiful Persian rugs, gives the illusion of a floating carpet.
“I like combining two things, a very minimal shape with a very busy design. You get these Persian carpets that are very busy but very beautiful, and combine them with a very modern line…when I design, what I want to do is surprise the viewer, I want to make them look at it for more than five seconds.”
For the moment, the City Wave Coffee Table is Mousarris’ only 3D printed piece of furniture, however he is already working on an exciting new coffee table design that will also involve a lot of 3D printed parts. For the moment, he could only tell me that it was inspired by “rockets, water and thrust”—a tantalizing description that I can’t wait to see once it’s complete.
Mousarris also said that he has been completely taken off guard by the amount of exposure he’s received thanks to his 3D printed City Wave Coffee Table. “I’m not used to this kind of attention, I’ve never had it before!” he said. “It just kind of exploded, it’s crazy.” Based on his stunning and ambitious designs and upcoming 3D printed work, however, he just might have to get used to the attention after all.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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