By Neri Oxman
2014, Stratasys Connex Technology, CNC milling
Paris, France

In collaboration with Prof. W. Craig Carter (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, MIT)
Created for "Vocal Vibrations" (Tod Machover and Neri Oxman)
March 28, 2014 - September 29, 2014
Le Laboratoire, Paris 
Sponsors: Le Laboratoire (David Edwards, Founder) and Stratasys
3D Printing: Stratasys with Objet500 Connex3 Color, Multi-material 3D Printer
Photography: Michel Figuet


Gemini - an acoustical “twin chaise" - spans multiple scales of the human existence extending from the warmth of the womb to the stretches of the Gemini zodiac in deep space. It recapitulates a human cosmos: our body - like the Gemini constellation - drifting in space. In this project we explore interactions between pairs: sonic and solar environments, natural and synthetic materials, hard and soft sensations, as well as subtractive and additive fabrication. The design is rooted in the mythical relationship between twins; one is mortal - born of man, the other divine. Made of two material elements, a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts, like the sun and the moon, like Adam and Eve, the chaise forms a semi-enclosed space surrounding the human with a stimulation-free environment, recapitulating the ultimate quiet of the womb as it echoes our most inner voices. This is achieved through the combination of a solid wood milled shell housing and an intricate cellular skin made of sound absorbing material. It is the first design to implement Stratasys' Connex3 technology using 44 materials with different pre-set mechanical combinations varying in rigidity, opacity and color as a function of geometrical, structural and acoustical constraints. This calming and still experience of being inside the chaise invokes the prenatal experience of the fetus surrounded by amniotic serenity, an antidote to the stimuli rich world we live in.

The design includes a number of length scales ranging from structure to material composition that affect its sound absorbing properties: (1) On the meter scale, the chaise forms a semi-closed anechoic-like chamber with curved surfaces that tend to reflect sound inward. The surface structure scatters the sound and absorbs it and, in the absence of large planar surfaces, reduces the amount of sound that would otherwise bounce back to the source; (2) On the centimetre scale - a scale that corresponds to the wavelength of sound - the 3D printed inner “skin” is designed as 3-dimentional doubly curved cells that scatter and absorb sound effectively given their geometry (i.e. the sound tends to bounce from one “cell” unit to another till it gets absorbed) and high surface area to volume ratios. The features of the chaise are on the order of the wavelength of sound and they therefore interact strongly with sound and get absorbed effectively; (3) On the nano-scale, the properties of the Digital Materials also contribute to the absorption of sound. These materials are elastic in nature, varying in durometer (and sound absorption) as a function of curvature. Surface areas that are more curved than others are also assigned more elastic properties, thereby increasing absorption around local chambers.

Watch the video here.

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