Olivier van Herpt (Helmond, 1989) works at the interface of traditional craftsmanship and contemporary industrial design. He focuses on the technology separating these two domains, i.e., the machine. Van Herpt graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2015 with a collection of remarkable ceramic dishes, bowls, and vases, produced using an advanced and self-designed 3D printer two years in the making.
Unhappy with the limitations of existing 3D printers, both in scale and degree of achievable detail, Van Herpt—with endless patience and curiosity—designed a machine capable of printing forms many times bigger, more complex, and more delicate that anything possible thus far. When executing a new design, Van Herpt first investigates the best type and composition of the clay to be used and then makes a digital 3D drawing. His machine, with a print head controlled by three robot arms, then continuously extrudes layer upon layer of malleable clay. His accomplishment is not merely technical, but also aesthetic. Using his 3D printer, he has developed a new visual language, creating attractive forms and textures that evoke science fiction, origami designs, traditional weaving, cacti, or ancient weathered rock.
Van Herpt is currently working on a new 3D printer capable of making bigger organic forms. However in a few years’ time we will likely see him apply the same dedication to experimenting with different techniques and materials. Whatever happens, Van Herpt wants the technologies he develops, now and in the future, to be available to everyone. He hopes this will make production more democratic, reduce the distance between designer and user, and maybe even have them coalesce.
Olivier van Herpt is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.