In his 1957 novel The Door into Summer, Robert Heinlein imagined a vector plotting robot named Drafting Dan. By the 60s CAD (Computer Assisted Design) had been fully adopted into the auto, aircraft, and ship building industries. (The technology was born as early as the 40s).
More recently, CAD-bots have encroached into more traditional handmade industries like fashion, jewelry, furniture, and — heaven forbid — art. Of course, it was inevitable that CAD would evolve beyond its role as a mere tool and have a profound influence in actual design.
That fact that just about every architect alive also designs furniture probably has something to say of the seduction of furniture's intimate scale. We are consumed by architecture; Furniture, like other things we love, we cozy up to.
Daniel Libeskind designed the Spirit House Chair, above, for The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. In a collaboration with Nienkämper, the chair is constructed from a snuggly 14 gauge stainless steel.
Below, a Libeskind designed tea set in sterling silver for Sawaya & Moroni.
Below, more tea sets, more silver, and more geometry: This time from the mind of Zaha Hadid.
Think Buckminster Fuller in a dumpster dive: The Bravais arm chair by Liam Hopkins. The triangular columns were inspired by forms found in wasp nests and crystals. The chair is made from 200 cardboard components assembled by hand. See more here.
The honey comb Radiolarian sofa was a collaboration between Hopkins and artist Richard Sweeney at Lazerian studio, Manchester.
The form of this Diamond Chair by Tokoyo-based Nendo is owed to the molecular structure of diamonds. The chair was produced in two pieces in a 3D printer process called selective laser sintering (SLS). (Sintering takes a powdered material and fuses it into a mass with a high powered laser and scans it into cross sections, following a 3D CAD model.)
The process of Rapid Prototyping allows complex shapes to be rendered in one unit.
Below, one from the Crystallization collection designed in collaboration with Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, architect Daniel Wedrig, and 3D printer MGX. For this piece a form is created in a series of shapes and then repeated and scaled over and over to create a single volume.
Below, a digital bowl designed by Kathryn Hinton.
Chairs by Danish designer Mathias Bengtsson: Below, the Cellular chair. Made of lightweight epoxy resin its design simulates the structure of regenerating bone.
Bengtsson took a more traditional approach with the Slice chair. Though its final manufacture includes laser cutting into 3mm layers, the design was first drawn and then modeled in clay before going into the computer.
The Slice as manufactured in wood above, aluminum below.