Parametric Dreams [Ep. 3] – Modifile: An Italian CNC Startup!

June 18, 2018 by ShapeDiver

Parametric Dreams is a new space we've opened specifically for early entrepreneurs and students to share their stories and projects involving Parametric Design.  Every world-renowned designer was once a student and we believe every student dream deserves to be heard!

Modifile is a Digital Files provider for CNC machines. They are an Italian startup, based in Venice and founded by Alessia Rosada and Carlos Travaini.

- What's your background and where did you learn about design in general?

Alessia: We both started learning about design by just observing. That being said, our past studies and experiences allowed us to mix in this project our academic education, focused on the visual arts and design, with a technical background applied on digital graphic design.

This combination gave us the possibility to work in many different areas of design, always searching for an original point of view about the future of industrial products and goods, with a strong attention on making them useful, democratic and desirable.

- How did you end up doing this project?

Carlos: The Modifile project was born as a second phase of a previous project: CNC Factory, an online shop where we sell more digital products.

We realized that the most frequent request from our customers was the possibility to adaptthe plans to their needs or to the material features.

For example, the plywood's thicknesses available in Europe are not the same as those in the USA. This was a very big problem since our products work with joints! 

Parametric Design was ideal to solve this problem. It allowed us not only to change the thickness of the material, but also to modify the measurements, change the diameter, activate dog-bone options, show assembly instructions, you name it.

You could say that Rhino + Grasshopper + ShapeDiver became the perfect trinomial for us.

- That's great to hear! Who's part of your team?

A/C: The team is made up of two of us, but we count with many other external collaborators. This project is strongly connected with Digital Fabrication and the FabLabs are the perfect places for this development. In our case, when we are testing something we use FabLab Venezia as our HQs.

- How do you manufacture your product?

A/C: First of all, there's a planning phase where we create the design object using Rhino and Grasshopper; then comes the interactive phase where ShapeDiver comes into play. The user has an online configuration tool where our designs can be modified and ordered; finally there's the fabrication phase where produce whatever the customer designed and ordered.

The most interesting aspect is that CNC machines can be programmed in a reliable way, so every physical objects can start as a digital template. This means that a Modifile design can be downloaded, edited and resold locally, on demand, all around the world! All while being sustainable and affordable.

- What comes to your mind when you think about Parametric Design?

Carlos: Parametric Design is a big revolution for the design world. It is a fundamental tool for any 3D designer. When you can control any geometry with parameters it means your projects are more flexible and coherent; moreover, Parametric Design doesn't affect the basis of design, instead it enriches the technique.

If I had to compare Parametric Design with something, I'd do it with a musical score: nothing that is written resembles the final result.

Alessia: When I think about Parametric Design I link it immediately with a series of huge advantages: design simplification, time and cost reductions, management flexibility, use comfort, improved quality of work.

Parametric Design is the essential tool to respond to the market's ever-changing needs. For me it's like having a wardrobe from which every day you can take our your ideal dress!

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- Who's your greatest inspiration?

Carlos: Nomadic Furniture vol. 1/2 by Victor Papanek and James Hennessey, 1973

Alessia: I don't know if it's the greatest inspiration, but I share Jasper Morrison's creative analysis and observation method (in addition to his irony!).

- Do you have future projects coming up?

A/C: As future project, we have thought to enrich Modifile's website by including the possibility for designers to incorporate their design, giving diversity of styles and ideas to our catalogue of furniture. Another project is to offer our customers, together with the product plans, a customizable, parametric packaging to further promote the sellers during the marketing phase.

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- Wow, this sounds ambitious! We wish you the best of luck and thank you for sharing your time with us!

A/C: You're more than welcome! And please don't forget to visit our website:


That's it for our third episode of Parametric Dreams!  Would you like to be featured in this space? Make sure to contact us! Just send an email to and tell us about your work!

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