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Robots, bones and fireflies: Dutch designer Joris Laarman in Chelsea gallery

March 25, 2010

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Heat Wave Radiator

This month Dutch Designer Joris Laarman unveils his latest work in Friedman Benda, a design gallery in my old neighborhood of Chelsea, Manhattan. The exhibit titled Joris Laarman Lab shows some of Laarman’s cutting edge experiments in which design and science meet.

Joris Laarman was born in the Dutch countryside in 1979 and graduated cum laude from the Eindhoven Design Academy in 2003. He soon made a name for himself when his graduation project Heat Wave was picked up by Droog, the internationally renowned conceptual Dutch design company. Heat Wave is a radiator made from rococo swirls of concrete. The product combines style and aesthetics with the functionality of the material – concrete conducts heat more efficiently than metal.

Bone Chair

In 2004 Laarman started Amsterdam based Joris Laarman Lab, an ‘experimental playground’ in which the designer collaborates with scientists, engineers and craftsmen on projects at the intersection of design and science. Laarman’s Bone Chairs – made with 3D optimization software that simulates bone growth – were featured at the 2008 blockbuster MoMa show Design and the Elastic mind.

The current Joris Laarman Lab show in Chelsea includes a baby robot that is programmed to fold a slender sheet of steel into complex shapes, applying precisely the right amount of pressure to make a piece of furniture.

On exhibit as well is a bio-luminescent lamp for which Laarman collaborated with tissue generating specialists from the Technical University of Twente in the Netherlands. Infusing cells of a hamster with a firefly’s luciferase gene should make the lamp glow.

Laarman’s idea behind these and other scientific experiments is that the small-scale pieces it generates will eventually translate into industrial design production. Along those lines Laarman has developed Unbridaled, a crystal garland for Swarovski. Currently he is adapting his 3D bone growth simulating software for a mass manufactured chair for Vitra and a light for Flos. Both projects are scheduled for completion in 2011.

Joris Laarman Lab in Chelsea’s Friedman Benda Gallery opened on March 4th and will run until April 10th.

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