Tokyo – Japanese department store Loft is one of the country’s primary promoters of consumer 3D printing. To further endorse Loft’s fab-lab services, Dus – the Dutch architecture firm responsible for the widely publicized 3D Print Canal House – was invited to develop six novel 3D-printed furniture pieces for Loft’s Tokyo flagship. The 3300-sq-m store in Ginza is spread over four floors. It was conceived by Jo Nagasaka of Schemata Architects and features signage by Hiromura Design Office.
‘Loft evokes the idea of craft and facilitates personal expression,’ said Hans Vermeulen of Dus. He talked about tailoring designs and products to a customer’s needs in four steps: ‘customize, order, print and make it your own’.
Inspired by artisanal techniques, the architects developed various articles of furniture, from a writing desk to a juice bar, combining the latest linseed-oil-based bioplastics with more familiar materials, such as terrazzo, resin and steel. Bespoke three-dimensional patterns embellish the functional objects.
Positioned along key circulation routes, the one-off furnishings cause shoppers to slow down or, in some cases, to sit down and experience the store’s merchandise in settings that double as workshops and event spaces. In line with Nagasaka’s minimal aesthetics and eye for detail, Dus came up with forms that prompt physical interaction from customers and arouse curiosity about how they’re made.
3D printing is ready to enter the public domain – not as a future experience but as something to discover now
‘Since the furniture is so different from the items for sale, we hope that our pieces give the retail interiors a museum-like quality,’ said Vermeulen. ‘We want to demonstrate that the technique of 3D printing is ready to enter the public domain – not as a future experience but as something to discover now.’
Although Dus designed and produced the pieces in Amsterdam, Vermeulen and his team anticipate the impending availability of XL 3D printers in Japan and the subsequent opportunity to share their digital files and have products manufactured entirely on site.