For his bachelor’s thesis at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Andrey Grishko didn’t just come up with a new furniture collection, he devised the manufacturing process to create it. His weaving machine wraps thread, coated in pigmented glue, around a mould. The mould gives the object its shape, so that when it’s removed, the piece – whether a lamp or a stool – constitutes its negative. This video shows the contraption at work.
We chatted with Grishko, who has gone on to form the studio AndreyandShay with Shay Nifusi, about why designers are now endeavouring to control the production techniques behind their furnishings.
AZURE: Why build your own machine?
Andrey Grishko: The woven furniture project was the final project for my bachelor’s degree in industrial design at the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design. The working process started with the creation of handmade objects. I wound cotton thread around a few pipes and hardened it with glue.
My next step was to make the project relevant for today’s world. So I thought carefully about the producing method, since the right producing method can bring products to life. I found digital manufacturing the best method for this project due to its flexibility. The digital manufacturing allows us to duplicate the products on the one hand, and make small but meaningful changes that will make any product unique on the other hand.
AZ: How did you learn how to program it?
AG: During the woven furniture project, I learned mechanics from YouTube tutorials and 3-D printing blogs, and as a result I was able to build the winding machine by myself. I used an existing CNC program that needed just a few changes to wind around the objects. These changes were actually made by my dad, who is a computer science expert.
AZ: What were some of the bigger ideas behind making your own production process, in terms of your goals as a designer?
AG: As time passes, design disciplines are melting into each other and the lines between them are disappearing. Other disciplines, like engineering and computer science, are joining them too. This is why we can see more and more projects that include engineering elements that support the design and the concept. I think this phenomenon is becoming common because all these supporting tools are available to us today more than ever.
AZ: Was it also inspired by the economic recession, and the necessity to own the means of production?
AG: Today’s designers often want to take control over products they design, and one of the ways to do so is to be a maker. I tried to create a one-of-a-kind making process because a unique producing process generates unique design objects, while existing conventional processes usually generate predictable results.
Another reason for building a small producing machine is the financial aspect; during an economic crisis designers are searching for cheaper ways to produce their own designs. And an open-source platform is a democratic way of producing that small businesses can use to make a range of products.
AZ: I understand that this project was created for your thesis, but are you still evolving it?
AG: As a first pilot, we developed daily objects, such as a stool and a lamp. The next step is to make a few improvements on the machine in order to increase producing time and then start production for sale. I haven’t decided yet about the distribution method, but probably the right way is online selling because it has worldwide exposure.
Today I’m working with my colleague Shay Nifusi as a design studio named AndreyAndShay. Shay and I met during our studies at Shenkar College and have been working together since then. The diversity of materials we use in our designs ranges from natural materials, such as wood and leather, to artificial fibres and plastic.
Andrey Grishko is also featured in our October 2013 story ”We Made It” (page 94), the precursor to our five-part online interview series. Follow the conversation – and let us know what you’re doing differently to get your stuff out there – on Twitter and Facebook using #AZasks.