This groundbreaking 3D printing technology, developed by the MIT Self-Assembly Lab + Swiss Designer Christophe Guberan, will be co-presented at Design Miami by the Patrick Parrish Gallery and swissnex Boston.

The technology is a futuristic manufacturing facility based on Rapid Liquid Printing, a breakthrough 3-D printing technology developed in collaboration with Steelcase, which can rapidly produce objects of almost any size or shape using a robot and a tank of gel.

The space serves as a manufacturing facility in which a robot instantly prints tote bags and art objects inside a glass tank of translucent gel. After printing, each product is removed, cleaned, and put on display.

This exhibit is the first public demonstration of MIT’s rapid liquid printing technology.

Rapid liquid printing can produce large-scale objects out of high-grade materials like rubber, foam, or plastic in a matter of seconds or minutes by “drawing” them in a gel suspension.

Traditional 3-D printing is restricted by slow speeds, scale constraints, and poor material quality, which makes it unreliable as a mainstream manufacturing process. With rapid liquid printing, manufacturing can be reimagined as an artistic experience unlimited by scale or gravity, asking us to rethink design, production, uniformity, and product life-cycles.


A strong attraction for the different materials and their intrinsic features has always guided my work as a designer. I have decided to dedicate a few years to research on materials. My intent is to try and rethink the way materials are used, as well as the production processes, using the possibilities made available by the new technologies.

To me, those technologies (Computer Numerical Controlled machines, 3D printers) are an integral part of the creative process. I like the idea of hijacking the use of those complex machines, to turn them into manual experimenting tools. I favor an instinctive approach, working more on hardware than software. The primary aim of my research is to produce knowledge, to generate new aesthetics. When working on a process, I try to explore it in depth, in order to create a rich repertoire of shapes and possibilities. This inventory then nourishes my world as a designer.

Implementation comes only after research, in particular through collaborations with companies, that see potentialities in my work to develop a product.


The original wording was “form ever follows function.” It is also routinely misattributed, mostly to 20th-century modernist grandees, like Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, but was actually coined by the less famous American architect, Louis Sullivan. Misused though Sullivan’s quote has been, his point, that the style of architecture should reflect its purpose, made sense at the time, and continued to do so for much of the last century, not just for buildings, but objects too.

“form ever follows function.”

Louis Sullivan was born in 1856 in Boston and studied architecture for a year at MIT before leaving for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Like H.H. Richardson, Sullivan is regarded today as one of the most individual and innovative architects of the developing modern period. He replaced the standard classical ornamentation of the day with highly original, organic architectural details inspired by nature. One of Sullivan’s most notable contributions was the creation of a form appropriate to the tall commercial office building. Rather than stressing the horizontal layers of each story, he emphasized the vertical rise of these buildings. Verticality was made possible by steel frame construction and the use of light materials such as terra cotta, which had a malleability appropriate for carrying out his ornament.

Adler and Sullivan designed the Transportation Building for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It was a long structure, extending 960 feet, with walls punctuated by arcade windows. The focal point of the building was the Golden Door, an awesome portal formed by layers of receding arches that featured gold leaf ornament, adding to a sense of the building’s movement. The Transportation Building, while not included with the buildings surrounding the central basin, nonetheless occupied a large, important site and was widely admired, despite a lack of overt classical references.

It was the assemblage of noble, classical edifices, laid out according to the plans of D.H. Burnham in the Great Basin of the Exposition, that particularly angered Sullivan but captivated hundreds of visitors. These buildings–the Agricultural Building (McKim, Mead & White), Machinery Hall (Peabody & Stearns), the Administration Building (Richard Morris Hunt), the Electricity Building (Van Brunt and Howe), and Manufacturers Hall (George B. Post)–formed the heart of the Exposition and represented important interests. The presence of drawings in the MIT architecture studio by Adler and Sullivan and by William LeBaron Jenney extended the memory of the Exposition, reinforcing the exceptional qualities of the two buildings.