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A Virtual-Looking Chair In Real Life

Designer Zhang Zhoujie generates furniture pieces that look like shiny robot spiders.
April 17, 2012, 5:54pm

Well here’s an example of the New Aesthetic if we ever saw one. Chinese designer Zhang Zhoujie's "Triangulation" series gives us unreal looking chairs that are all prismatic and mirrored and definitely computer-generated. Could they possibly look any more out of place set against these rural backdrops? The visual disparity is so jarring they practically look photoshopped into these photos.

With a fine arts background from the China Academy of Arts, Zhang later studied industrial design in the acclaimed Central Saint Martin school in London, where he developed a fascination with parametric design and began experimenting with the latest technological trends in design and manufacturing.

Zhang is a follower of the Chinese Taoist principle called Wu Wei, which means he believes in “natural action” and knowing when to act and when not to act, which translates into a design practice that tries to impose minimal interventions. For Zhang, this idea proves the fact that every object comes from an ancestry source—even the development of furniture and objects is traceable through some vast family tree. This lead him into the intricate labyrinths of Mathematics, which become the basis of his generative objects.

In the "Triangulation" series, objects are custom-made according to measurements provided by clients. Zhang inputs the sources into a computer system and a model is generated by the key factors and characteristics—and so the final design is, in a way, a collaboration between man and machine. At his newly founded eponymous studio in Shanghai, Zhang focuses on this and other explorations of new digital creation methods, producing virtual objects for the physical world.

Zhang believes that “process is more important than outcome, the story is more important than style and potential is more important than practice.” In the video below, we get a glimpse into the creative process behind the first Digital Chair.