>>Getting to know…<< is the place where ShapeDiver introduces game-changers in the field of Parametric Design. During our blog series, we’ll let great brands do the talking and present their projects, so sit back and enjoy!
Have you ever been looking for furniture, and could not find your “just right” item? Wished it were that little bit different, in size, color, or shape. That is what Shapelamp strives to solve within the lighting industry.
Shapelamp.com is a Malta-based start-up that uses a custom-built advanced online design tool, coupled with innovative rapid manufacturing methods and traditional manual fabrication processes, to give the opportunity to anyone, of any age or background, to design their very own light unit.
Shapelamp was founded by two lifelong friends, Sean and Matt, By merging their respective expertise, one in engineering, lighting, and sustainability, and the others in architecture, design, and rapid manufacturing. These concepts are at the core of Shapelamp and influence all the processes; from the design stage to the packaging and shipping stage. The day-to-day operations are currently overviewed by Nick, a full-time Engineer, who shares the same passion as the founders.
How is Shapelamp different from other interior design companies?
Shapelamp, works on the concept of democratization of the design process, making the product created a unique and personal one. The concept of putting together one’s own furniture is not new and Shapelamp is not very different in this regard. What the Shapelamp concept differs in, is the ability to offer mass customization options to the global market, using a unique custom design tool and the power of the internet!
Launching with the first design family - LUKT, one that steals its aesthetic from the timeless lanterns predominant in the far east, Shapelamp intends to expand the design families in the coming months whilst maintaining a sensitive balance between technological precision and the artisan finish.
What are some of the challenges you guys faced in setting up this kind of operation?
The main challenge has been to create an efficient platform that streamlines the process of converting a concept, to an editable 3D model to a CNC cutting file which is optimised and suitable for our needs. Luckily, Grasshopper together with Shapediver allows this process to be very efficient. It is important to note that the design stages of the Grasshopper script was far from simple, yet this has created the beauty in the Shapelamp algorithm. The minimalist interface is backed by a very intricate system which was built over several years and is constantly evolving. Finding the right people and tools was not easy but the end result has been worth all the effort put into the operation.
Tell us about your manufacturing process, how did it influence what you could or couldn’t do design-wise?
Currently, Shapelamp has a single family of products LUKT. This family relies on laser cutting 2D shapes which are then formed into a final 3D object, a final Shapelamp. Laser cutting is very versatile but has its limitations since it is a subtractive process.
Complex geometries are hard to manufacture without the right design processes and even a simple press-fit needs to be extensively tested and is dependent on the machine tolerance. The machines used, quality checking and the design built by the algorithm must all compensate for such precision.
What are your favorite design features of your lamps?
Shapelamps come in a multitude of design variables. The team’s favorite feature would probably be the shadows that a Shapelamp casts. They are subtle but without them the Shapelamps would lack spirit. The team also loves how easy it is to manipulate slightly a design and achieve a completely different lamp!
What obstacles, if any, were there in the design process?
The main hurdle in designing the algorithm was related to how to display the models online easily and efficiently and how to achieve a simple CNC cutting file efficiently without using excessive computing power. Through innovative processes, some effective mathematics, and the unique help from the Shapediver team, we managed to solve most of such obstacles.
Is Distributed Manufacturing in your roadmap?
Shapelamp aims to disseminate its vision of democratization of lighting design through collaborations with entities who share similar values. By constantly investing a lot in reaching out to people different communities, Shapelamp ensures that as many people as possible can experience and embrace the concept. Distributed Manufacturing fits within this plan, yet a number of aspects are to be tackled first, to ensure the brand and product reach the end customer at the best quality possible.
Why a company like Shapelamp was not possible say 5 or 10 years ago?
This is a simple answer, Shapelamp could have been possible 5 to 10 years ago, but the result would have been much more difficult to get to.
Grasshopper was not what it is now, and online customization tools were not as powerful and efficient as today. Furthermore, browser and internet efficiency would have been a critical constraint. 10 years ago Shapelamp would have been based off dropdown menus and pre-rendered images changing based on users’ inputs. Now it is dynamic.
That’s it for our second edition of >>Getting to know..<< Don’t forget to follow our friends from Shapelamp directly at their Facebook Page and Instagram Page!
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