Mar 13, 2016 | By Kira

A 400-square-foot, 7-foot-tall installation in the form of an immersive, multicolored, luminescent web, has been unveiled at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York. The PolyThread Knitted Textile Pavilion, created by Jenny Sabin Studio, consists of photo-luminescent and solar-active threads that absorb and release light in beautiful, mesmerizing patterns, and was created with the help of parametric modeling and 3D printing technology.

Jenny Sabin Studio is an experimental architectural design studio based in Philadelphia. Sabin herself is a pioneering figure at the intersection of art, architecture, and science, applying theories from biology and mathematics to design unique material structures. She is currently a professor of Design and Emerging Technologies in the Department of Architecture and Cornell University, Director of the Sabin Design Lab at Cornell AAP, and has worked with clients such as Nike, the National Science Foundation, and the American Philosophical Society Museum.

The PolyThread Knitted pavilion, designed specifically to fit the exhibition space in New York, draws on a 2012 collaboration between Sabin and Nike. For the myThread Pavilion, commissioned by Nike Flyknit Collective, Sabin transformed patterns of biologically-inspired data into 3D modeled geometry, resulting in complex interwoven structures that appear to have been 'digitally knitted', much like the surface of Nike’s performance-enhancing shoe.

A similar approach seems to have been taken for the larger-scale PolyThread Knitted pavilion, which is currently the largest work in the current Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial exhibition, and was designed specifically to fit the exhibition space. Sabin began by parametrically designing the 3D model, relying on both math and art to generate an organic, skeletal structure defined by minimal surfaces. A scale model was then 3D printed in durable nylon material to ensure she had acheived a lightweight, structurally sound architecture. As for the actual 400-square-foot textile pavilion, it was entirely assembled from twill tape, aluminum tubing, and both photo-luminsecent and light-activated yarns--nearly 100 pounds of fabric in total.

These ‘digitally 3D knitted’ yarns are the secret to bringing the PolyThread Pavilion to life, as they absorb sunlight and emit it back in rhythmic, multicolored patterns. The exhibition experience is further enhanced by a simulated day/night cycle that runs on a 15 minute loop. Though large, the structure is extremely lightweight and portable, meaning future prototypes could be built as permanent outdoor installations, providing natural and sustainable light where electricity is lacking.

The PolyThread 3D pavilion is currently on display as part of the fifth installment of the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, whose theme this year is Beauty. The contemporary design exhibition, encompassing more than 250 works by 63 international designers, is organized into seven categories: extravagant, intricate, ethereal, transgressive, emergent, elemental, and transformative. While Sabin’s immersive installation could perhaps be described by all of the above, it belongs to the ‘Emergent’ sector, where emerging technologies and digital systems have been used to generate unexpected architectures and forms.

In addition to the PolyThread Knitted Textile Pavilion, another of Jenny Sabin Studio’s 3D printed creations will be on display: PolyBricks, a 3D printed architectural system for building large-scale structures. PolyBricks consists of interlocking 3D printed bricks made from low-cost materials and customized digital tools, and, like so much of Sabin’s work, it opens the door to new ways of thinking about structures, bodies, and technology.

Beauty, the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial is currently on, and will run until August 21st, 2016. Joining Jenny Sabin Studio in the ‘Emergent’ category are two other innovative 3D printing artists: Olivier Van Herpt, who 3D prints ceramic structures out of sounds, and Israeli designer and 3D architect, Neri Oxman.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Gerd Schwaderer wrote at 4/20/2016 3:36:22 PM:

Whow. That was a lot of prints and a lot of money :-)

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive