by Hermann August Weizenegger for Digital Courture
Digital Couture is the name given to a group of works on which Hermann August Weizenegger worked together with traditionally trained craftsmen and programmers aided by data-based procedures. All objects in the work group are based on a design principle of layering and turning. Using a variety of materials he created a number of objects such as the Erosio chair, the Muse design sculpture, the Cloud lamp and a dress designed with numerous individual lamella-like components. The aesthetic concept behind the work group lies somewhere between functional design product and autonomous object.
The entire exhibition is a cohesive exploration of layering techniques to make 3D objects of radically varying forms, weight and function. To pull together what are otherwise disparate objects into such beautifully resolved and realized designs is quite impressive.
The Erosio chair (top picture) emerged from a 3D design and acquires its shape from the layering and turning of material, in this case, layers of paper. As with the other designs, the designer started with the basics of the design sculpture Muse (pictured below).
The compact arrangement of 900 sheets of paper lends the chair its solid state. A sintered component in the middle of the chair forms the core of a connecting system, to which four circular metal rods are fixed. These constitute the inner structure of the chair. The layers calculated on the computer which form the outer shape of the chair are threaded onto the round rods in an additive process. The individual paper layers are not all fixed to the chair’s legs so that the shape of the chair within the framework of its fixed inner construction can be lightly modified.
The aesthetic appeal of the chair’s finish is determined by sensual characteristics created by the electronic production process, but which in one way is similar to manual production. The precise laser technique with which the cardboard is cut leaves minimal burn marks, spots and fine fraying on the edges barely visible to the eye. As a result of these sutures, which are occasioned by the material and fully intended by the designer the chair assumes a material presence all of its own that is reminiscent of a natural material such as wood or sediment stone. In functional morphology, tectonic and geological layering like this can be found in connection with erosion discordance. The designer is consciously playing here with the demarcation line between nature and artifact.
The design sculpture ‘Muse’ shown above possesses the hybrid character of a design object and a sculpture. The manual skills of the couturier feature in this work just as much as the data-based calculation of layering such as is undertaken with geological and tectonic phenomena. The measuring of the figure, which in the classic process is adjusted to shape by modeling the dress form with muslin, was replaced in this case by a laser procedure which reads and models the contours of a dress on the computer. The feet and head of the form, on the other hand, are traditionally handcrafted by a Berlin turnery. The manner in which the components were then combined together is reminiscent of the laborious craftsmanship of master tailors – as they have been displaying with figurines and models in Paris ateliers since time immemorial.