Cocoon: A Brilliant Example of how Generative Technologies Impact the Fixture Design Process
Created back in 2011, ‘Cocoon’ is a multi-purpose design lamp that was designed to demonstrate what can be realized using 3D printing. While looking for fresh 3D printed lighting inspiration, I frequently faced this unique Voxel Studio creature. It finally motivated me to dedicate this new blogpost to this intriguing project. Maybe because it’s just one of the few printed lighting concepts where the designers were quite open about their approach and the process they went through, and explained how they moved on from there towards prototyping.
Since 2011 the German designer Patrick Günther has been working in the design cooperation ‘Voxel Studio’. Voxel was a collective of designers who got their inspiration from natural shapes. They continuously motivated each other to challenge the boundaries of what’s possible in today’s design, especially related to the use of 3D printing technologies. Most of their work evolved from hand-made sketches, modelled in a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program and finally fabricated using additive manufacturing technology.
Digital Design and Production of a Design Lighting Fixture
While searching for innovative production technologies able to address his specific needs, Günther crossed the topic of “fast prototyping”, particularly by means of 3D printing. It finally became the foundation for his subject “generative techniques and their impact on design processes.”
The main goal of the trial was to design and manufacture an end product in a complete digital way. In the end, the “Cocoon” lamp was the impressive outcome of his study. By the use of 3D modeling programs the product was designed, the light distribution calculated and ray-traced and the records engineered.
Inspired by Natural Shapes
The Cocoon idea itself derives from the parallelism between Objet PolyJetting technology at the one hand, an excellent technique for the production of particularly complex shapes, and the behavior of insects in its natural habitat at the other hand.
The Cocoon as a modern design piece perfectly illustrates how art, an outer structure with clean design, and an organic form that highlights and the metamorphosis of insects fluently merge together in the final design.
“3D Printing Technology Brings
Light Design to Life”
The functionality and application of the Cocoon lamp is multi-purpose: it can be turned, laid down or be used as a pendant in different positions. The visual aspect can be set by the user to his specific preferences: the optical appearance or the desired light effect can be tuned manually.
Starting from Scratch
The project was realized in Cinema 4D software. Looking to the different materials to be used in the printing process, the reference object had to be very precisely constructed: Meshes should to be watertight and free of overlapping surfaces. The CAD model was finally exported in six separate meshes: each with the same null point.
With the comprehensive modeling tools in Cinema 4D, it is possible to create this object to the exact specs as required by the 3D printer. Taking into consideration the capabilities of the 3D printer is very important in product design to make sure the part can finally be turned into a printed solution, without losses in surface quality and shape or costly post-processing commitments.
Challenged by Print File Sizes
Once the design process was completed, the CAD model had a size of 2.30 GB. The Cocoon designers were faced with the fact that the printer could only work with a file size of up to a maximum of 250 MB. The challenge was therefore to optimize the model and reduce its geometry to reduce file size and make the Cocoon Lamp printable.
Today, restrictions to CAD file sizes might still be challenging for designers, but, at the same time, it forces them to think in a different way when designing their products. This differing ‘mindset’ will certainly lead to new designs and solutions as never seen before!
Cocoon Lamp: A Proven Success Story
Creating the Cocoon seems to be quite a complex project. However, the Cocoon Lamp is not only an unorthodox project or a proof of evidence, it’s also a proven success story: Not only the design was finally awarded by the ‘Visualization Prize’ of the German ‘Detmold University for Architecture & Interior Design’, this extraordinary design lamp also caught the attention of several world leading design magazines and inspired and motived many other designers to discover the renewed possibilities with 3D printing.
We’re thrilled to see more and more 3D printed lighting solutions coming, and can’t wait to see what’s next!
Pictures, concept and ideation are property of the Voxel Studio: www.voxel-studio.de