Milan 2017 – Digital technology merges with craftsmanship. Carlo Ratti has teamed with Cassina to develop SWISH, a kinetic wooden stool-prototype. An Italian craftsman made use of a Carlo Ratti Associati patented system based on the concept of implicit programming – a.k.a. using digital fabrication to create objects that are pre-programmed to take different shapes.
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Produced with Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machinery, SWISH is a lightweight seat made of 27 thin, rounded wooden elements. The components are interlocked through a system of individually designed junctions and hinges, each different from the other.
SWISH parametric design would not be possible with traditional fabrication methods. Thanks to a system of hinges, SWISH can be swiftly folded and hung to a wall, shifting in just a few seconds. Once closed, the seat reveals a surprisingly slender, comb-like shape.
“How can we use mathematically controlled geometry to ‘teach’ a given material how to behave?” Says Carlo Ratti, Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and a founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati.
An initial version of SWISH emerged from a competition organized by the Milan-based workshop Miocugino in spring 2016. The initiative brought together both renowned designers and a group of young ‘Makers’ from all over the world, all tasked with a common goal: designing a hardware-free stool by using wood elements coming from a unique wood sheet. Carlo Ratti Associati won the prize, and an early version of the seat was released in open source.
The prototype of SWISH was presented at Milan Design Week 2017 in the framework of Cassina 9.0 – an exhibition curated by Patricia Urquiola to celebrate the company’s 90th anniversary.
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All photos: courtesy of Carlo Ratti Associati.