Future Systems Fruit Bowl, 2005
As of 2011, rapid prototyping is still a relatively new technology, most often employed to produce medical devices or industrial items such as car parts. Since 2004, however, the Belgian manufacturer Materialise NV has been inviting architects and designers to utilize rapid prototyping and manufacturing techniques to create furniture, lighting, and other functional objects for the domestic landscape. The digital technology allows designers (and, eventually, consumers) the freedom to create a variety of forms that can be customized and produced as limited editions or unique works; it also presents an alternative to traditional mass production methods that rely on standardization to achieve ease of manufacture and low cost to the consumer.
The Future Systems fruit bowl was produced via selective laser sintering (SLS), a process by which a computer controls a laser that heats and solidifies a polyamide powder upon contact, building up a form, minuscule layer by minuscule layer, into a single complete piece. The asymmetrically-shaped bowl is a study in complex geometry and severe curves, seemingly made up of multiple, pierced, and layered surfaces, curving in several directions at once. By using the SLS manufacturing method, the object is built up as a single piece, interstices and all, rather than made from concentric layers of material wrapped one over the other.
Amanda Levete, a British architect and architectural writer, partnered with Czech architect, Jan Kaplický, in the firm Future Systems from 1989 to 2009. Levete created the Future Systems fruit bowl as part of Materialise NV’s 2005 product series, the purpose of which was to explore Louis Sullivan’s famous phrase, “form follows function,” and to illustrate “that design today is moving its focus from analogue to digital . . . The designers, by using 3D and animation software instead of traditional manufacturing methods and tools, not only manipulated and modified shapes through mathematical formulas in the software packages, but even created their own tools by composing algorithms."
Rapid prototyping is continuously evolving with advances in digital technology and materials. This piece would help to expand the museum’s holdings of digitally-produced objects to show the range of techniques, materials, and object types that are possible.
 Materialise Group, .MGX by Materialise: Materialise your dreams (Leuven: Materialise, 2008), 9.
It is credited
Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.
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Its dimensions are
H x W x D: 6.4 x 30.5 x 62.2 cm (2 1/2 x 12 x 24 1/2 in.)
Cite this object as
Future Systems Fruit Bowl, 2005; Belgium; laser-sintered polyamide (nylon); H x W x D: 6.4 x 30.5 x 62.2 cm (2 1/2 x 12 x 24 1/2 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2011-2-1
This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Making Design.