Digital Fabrication

Experimentation is a pretty standard part of the creative process, but it usually ends with an “a-ha” moment; once you know what you want to make, the trial and error part of the equation is dunzo. For architect Andrew Kudless, however, R&D is never over; he often pushes his sculptural work so far it accidentally ends up in a ten-foot wide puddle of plaster on his studio floor. Kudless’s work is a kind of geometric adventurism, exploring the functional limits of the materials he works with, making them clamp, slot, bolt, or hinge together in new ways.

The “Seed” project, for example, is a huge, bulbous, 3D-printed concrete ball inspired by the shape of redwood seeds, snapped together and built up from modular components like patterns in a spherical textile.

The “Chrysalis (III)” lamp, is a big, weird, coiling coral form of glowing geometric cells made from paper-backed wood veneers, and the eruption of each individual cell—its size, its placement, its angle—could never have been guessed in advance. It’s like living math, emitting light.

Material waste is a massive problem in the architecture and design industry—offcuts and seemingly useless scrap are byproducts that often get tossed in the pursuit of a final product. Here, Kudless wanted to show the creative potential inherent in starting a project by instead considering a specific material’s dimensions. These sheets of wood were CNC-milled in a variety of curvy shapes, then joined together to form a swervy, one-of-a-kind screen. Look ma, no waste!

P-Wall is the latest evolution in Kudless’s P-series. He used digital simulation models to approximate what the work would look like, made rubber molds of the finished plaster casts, then fabricated the thin shell panels in concrete at Concreteworks.

Called “SEAcraft Eggs,” and produced by his students at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, these show what can happen when expected materials are rigorously and systematically swapped out in new and unexpected formal combinations.