A+B Studio has produced graphics, branding and animations for a new exhibition about 3D printing at London’s Science Museum.
3D: printing the future explores recent developments in 3D printing and how it can be used in industrial manufacturing and medicine. The exhibition also aims to shed some light on popular myths and concerns surrounding its use, and looks at the range of products that can be made as the technology becomes more affordable and accessible.
A+B worked on the identity and graphics for the show and collaborated with designer Gabrielle Underwood on its centrepiece: a wall featuring more than 600 3D printed objects, including a bladder, a gun and a prosthetic hand.
“The design reflects the explosion of creativity that has been made possible by 3D printing,” explains A+B creative partner Benji Wiedemann. “This idea of a creative explosion is central to the whole narrative of the exhibition – all of a sudden, there has been this avalanche of incredible 3D printed products and designs, from light hearted objects to major technological advancements.
“We wanted to communicate that in a way that would really stand out, using lots of colourful objects against a blank white canvas. We worked very closely with the lighting team at DHA Lighting, too, who created some great effects, casting shadows of the objects and type on to the wall to make it more dramatic,” he adds.
A+B used a 3D printer to make signage, label stands and numbers, inspired by the polygon wireframes used in 3D printing. “We wanted to create a visual language for the exhibition that could connect the 2D, 3D and 4D elements. These frames are part of the fabric of the technology, and reflect how rapidly changing it is and how much of it is open source – the digital frames are uploaded and shared and can be easily manipulated on a computer,” says Wiedemann.
The polygon device works well in 3D and 2D – it has also been applied to stands. The museum is divided into four subsections: print it, try it, heal it and perfect it, and A+B has assigned a different colour to each, creating matching screens, labels and captions.
The studio also worked with Hardy Seiler on animations designed to support items displayed at the exhibition. One explains how 3D printing can be used to manufacture hollow plane parts, making lighter, more efficient vehicles, and another explains how parts of a human skull can be manufactured using 3D printing. The skull is displayed in a perspex case and the animation is projected on to it from behind (stills below).
“I had been aware of Hardy’s work for a while, and the animations are really on par with what we wanted to create – a connection between the branding and the items on display, showing how those polygons are adapted into tangible objects. It’s really quite beautiful to watch the pieces come to life,” adds Wiedemann.
A+B has been working on the exhibition since April. “It’s been pretty intense, but the museum has been great to work with – we were given a lot of creative freedom but it was also a really collaborative process,” he says. “What’s really nice with this show is that the graphics are a real feature: we have a strong physical presence. It’s always a pleasure designing arts and exhibition projects, but quite often what you do isn’t immediately obvious when you walk into the space. In this case, it is.”
“We also really enjoy working on projects that integrate digital and tangible design – we didn’t just start the design process with a pen and paper, but by thinking about different technologies, formats and processes we could use and experiment with,” he adds.
3d: printing the future is open until July 2014 at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington SW7 2DD. For details, see sciencemuseum.org.uk
Images: Jennie Hills, Science Museum and Alex Lampe, A+B Studio