Angel Hair Bowl

Story

The Angel Hair Bowl emerged from a simple intuition: that, with enough twists and turns, a single line can fill a space of any shape.

There were so many tantalizing possibilities. In particular, I wondered about the potential for gradients: of wiggliness, of line thickness, of line density. Each would have a radically different character.

Lines have so much expressive power. An artist could build an entire career around exploring their possibilities.

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Sol Lewitt devoted the better part of his career to exploring lines, yet barely scraped the surface.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art   |   © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I explored some of these more exotic directions, but in the end decided that they would be too much.

When designing home goods, one of my chief rules is to limit complexity to one dimension. So, if my surface will have a complex tiling pattern, the base object must be simple. If the surface finish is simple, the object's form can be complex. 

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My rendition of Dave Makes Stuff's bowl. Printing this complex form in anything other than a low-key color would be a garish mistake.

Yes, there are exceptions to my rule, but this was not the project to find them (though I greatly anticipate the opportunity to do so). Each piece in the Living Room Collection explores a single idea, and this work could be no exception.

Knowing that this piece would be a team player, I set to work finding a suitable product category. I opted for bowls, which perfectly fit the bill. 

 

I fleshed out what my students called a nest-like base shape, although I prefer the idea of a red blood cell. Ultimately, I like both due to their primal associations with nurture and sustenance. 

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Red blood cell    

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Base shape test

The 3D printing process would be long - at least four days - and expensive - requiring nearly a kilo of precious support material. So I ran a test to see what might go wrong. 

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My squiggle test

I made a few modifications based on the test result, applied them to the bowl, pressed print, and held my breath for nearly a week, as the bowl printed and the support dissolved. 

 

The result was stunning. I was also pleased to discover that it had an unusual property: when prodded, it jiggles like jello. 
 

In closing, I should point out that there's a bit of an allegory to be found in the Angel Hair Bowl. The chaos, the diversions, all the dead ends, might, to an observer traversing the line, seem to amount to failure. But taking a step back, this impression fades; the 'suboptimality' has given rise to something cohesive and beautiful.