New Zealand designer’s synthetic 3D-printed Venus flytrap even creepier than the real thing
Wellington designer creates ‘Chromatose’ saying technology allows us to write DNA and mutate it
By Jamie Morton
As if Venus flytraps weren’t strange enough, a Wellington designer has used 3D printing and other innovative approaches to create his own biomimetic version of the famous subtropical plant.
Chromatose, as Mark Wilson has called it, is a synthetic organism that responds to touch, opening and closing its buds just like its carnivorous inspiration.
“Due to recent advances in digital fabrication technologies, with code and algorithms, we have the ability to write or script a digital DNA of anything and everything,” Wilson said.
“This can then be modified and mutated as if it were actual DNA, dictating the organism’s qualities and characteristics.
“These opportunities offer us the unprecedented ability to fully exercise and implement biomimetics, with which we are able to simulate, reproduce, and even enhance organisms found in nature.’‘
In this case, Wilson fabricated the elements with an Objet350 Connex3 3D printer, which produces at 16-micron layer resolution.
“Each flower is able to be opened pneumatically with small channels embedded inside, and with just a light touch they quickly snap back into their concave position.”
Wilson, who co-runs a design firm, said he was interested in how design could intersect with other disciplines.
“I currently work in alongside a mechatronics engineer, an architectural graduate, a creative coder, other industrial designers, and other various professionals such as a photographer, lawyer, and a plastic surgeon.
“We’re a team called MASS Design, working towards our personal passion projects, while helping each other reach theirs.
“We’ve found that cross-pollinating ideas and skillsets, we have the capability to innovate far beyond what typical industries can offer.
“Although this isn’t strictly relevant to my project, I still think our ideologies align with that of what motivated me to produce a project like Chromatose.”
The design is a finalist in the Concept Product category of the annual Best Design Awards, organised by the Designers Institute of New Zealand.
There was a record-breaking amount of entries this year - 1178 - submitted from a broad set of disciplines including graphic, interactive, moving image, spatial and product design.
According to an industry report released last month, the total contribution of design to the New Zealand economy was approximately N$10.1 billion (US$7.33 billion) in the year to March 2016, which equated to 4.2 per cent of GDP.
“Kiwis businesses are recognising that good design is good business,’‘ institute chief executive Cathy Veninga said.
“Innovation that uses design drives the economy forward. Design can also play an important role for social good.
“This year’s finalists show that there is confidence in our design community and that clients are using design to positive effect.”
The award winners will be announced at a high-profile event on October 6.