There are multiple objects to see during Milan Design Week for fans of the late Zaha Hadid: her architectural office collaborated for example with Lasvit designing two hand-blown glass chandeliers - Duna and Eve - inspired by dune formations, presented in the main fair spaces at the Salone del Mobile.
But if you're looking for innovative shapes and materials that could be reinvented in a fashion environment, you should check out the "Thallus" structure. On display as part of "White in the City" at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera (until 9th April; the project features works inspired by this neutral shade and made by famous architects and designers), this piece is named after the plant-like vegetative body (think of algae, fungi, or mosses...) that doesn't have any differentiation into distinct parts (stem, leaves, and roots) like vascular plants and does not grow from an apical point.
The form and pattern of the structure are generated by advanced manufacturing and computational methods. The piece was indeed created by automated additive manufacture and hot-wire cutting technology as an investigation into robotic assisted design undertaken by Zaha Hadid Architects' Computational Design (ZHA CoDe) research group. The latter focuses on generating innovative geometries and shapes through computation.
The piece was designed by Zaha Hadid Design and Patrik Schumacher; the ZHA Code team included Shajay Bhooshan, Henry David Louth and Marko Margeta, while further contributors comprised Ai Build (Robotic Additive Manufacturing), Odico Formwork Robotics (Robotic Formworks) and Armadillo Engineering (metal works).
The "Thallus" structure is made with a continuous 7 km-long premium polyactide plastic (PLA) extruded structural strip made with six-axis robotic 3D printing technology.
The line loops and folds on a ruled surface, a class of surfaces generated by the movement of a straight line in space around an axis.
The shape of "Thallus" is tailored to a trimmed cylinder that enables a hot-wire cutting process to create the mould of the base on which the continuous structural strip has been robotically 3D printed.
The decorative swirls obtained are slightly reminiscent of the quilling process and the effects you obtain when you roll strips of papers into coils, but the piece is much more complex as the main purpose of the design is exploring differential growth methods through expansion and diffusion arising from a single continuous seed curve guided iteratively via simulation parameters while constrained to a reference surface.
Density gradation and direction of growth have been defined by parameters such as proximity to boundaries, angled direction of rulings, as well as structural requirements.
Rather than having a mere decorative purpose, the piece is made to demonstrate what can now be achieved in terms of mechanisation and customisation in the architecture, construction and engineering industries.
But there may be more opportunities for the technique behind the "Thallus": people interested in materials should maybe study the piece a bit more as this structure and the technique employed to make it could lead to further experiments in fashion.
When you see the projections of the PLA strip on the walls of the Accademia di Brera, you realise the piece forms a sort of intricate lace-like effect that suggest further applications: by thinning the thread, repeating the same process, and applying it to a smaller piece, it would be (easily?) possible to create a cut out bag, an intricate piece of jewellery or a rigid yet wearable showpiece like a dress or a skirt.
You can therefore bet we will see this technique resurfacing in future in other pieces designed by Zaha Hadid's office maybe in collaboration with a fashion house.
Image credits for this post
All images by Luke Hayes