Copyright V’s 3D printing.

Welcome to Design Daily’s first ever blog post. I hope that it will be the first of many times that you visit the blog and that you will find it either informative or inspirational, and on occasions, both.

I first came across Diederik Schneemann’s work when he was included in a Milan report I did for Inside Out magazine in 2011. At the time Schneeman was presenting furniture made from recycled rubber thongs, reclaimed from the beaches of the world where millions of them wash up each year. While the furniture and lighting had a colourful layer-cake feel to it, I must confess that I wasn’t totally convinced that the future of furniture lay in floating footwear. But the message was clear – there are mountains of this stuff clogging up the oceans and destroying marine life – we need to recycle and do something with it, otherwise it will be with us for a very, very long time.

When I received a press release from Schneemann early in 2013, talking about his new project that would be shown at Ventura Lambrata, I was immediately caught by the heading……

I Steal,
And Print

It seemed that Schneemann was confessing to a litany of copyright breaches yet proudly showing the wonderful result - a 3D printed chair in the form of a mash up of four 20th century classics and one interloper from the 21st century.

The sugar bowls combines the base of a Bialetti espresso maker by Luigi de Ponti from 1933 with the Coco Chanel perfume NO 5 bottle and the whistling bird from Michael Graves kettle for Alessi.

I was secretly delighted that he had chosen the Norman Cherner chair from 1958 along with the more obvious Arne Jacobsen ‘Grand Prix’ and Eames ‘LCW’ chairs - examples of which I own and love - don’t get me wrong. Added to these flexible plywood archetypes were the rigid legs of the ‘Red & Blue’ chair by early twentieth century Dutch designer, Gerrit Rietveld. The final chair could only be seen from the back, where a small part of Ross Lovegrove’s mid 2000 design, the ‘Orbit’ chair bulged conspiratorially.

But of course I was missing the point. The purpose of Schneemann’s work wasn’t for all of us classic design enthusiasts to consider the strengths and weakness of the various designs but to think about the massive copyright can of worms that was being opened by 3D printer technology.

Schneemann confessed when I spoke to him a few months later, that the cost of making the chair was colossal and no-one in their right mind would actually attempt to produce it for sale - but that was mainly because of the size of the chair. For smaller items the cost would be far more affordable and the theory still applied. According to Schneemann one of the biggest trends in 3D printing is reproducing designs from databases on the Internet. These designs are downloadable free of charge and bypass the rightful copyright owner completely.

“Are we moving towards the Napster of Design?” says Schneemann. “My Mash-up Collection is a tribute to a few of my favorite designers. By using parts of their work I pose questions that hopefully lead to discussions about important issues. In doing so I hope to contribute in preventing the next copyright war.”

For a great summary of these points (and some fun music mash ups) check out Schneemann's video below. Or for a more serious insight that challenges the notion of home 3D printing read this article on gizmodo

3D printed Mash-Up collection by designer Diederik Schneemann.
Raising questions about copyright abuse in the fast growing 3D Printing industry.