Miko is a prototype online platform that allows users to design unique hand cast ceramic objects through playful and engaging interactions.
Using simple browser based tools, visitors are able to produce three dimensional models from data captured through a collection of different interactions. Our intention is to make each tool simple and intuitive to allow anybody to create a bespoke 3D object without prior knowledge of 3D modelling software. To achieve this, we’ve utilised unconventional user inputs, such as recording sound from the users microphone, data from a social media feed and accelerometer data from their phone to help generate a model — resulting in an object that is unique to that visitor. These models are automatically converted into machine ready moulds, ready to be cast and finished using traditional ceramics casting methods. The moulds are CNC milled directly into plaster, removing the need to produce a male from which to make a mould — as is done traditionally when slip casting ceramics.
On-demand manufacturing is an area which we have explored for multiple clients and we have found it to be fertile ground for experimentation. We want to find ways to develop consumer products and services that bypass mass manufacture and inventory in order to reduce the amount of waste produced by traditional manufacturing processes as well as explore how emerging digital technology can augment everyday objects.
The benefit of manufacturing in this way is that visitors are able to participate in the creation of the objects they purchase, entering into a partnership with the manufacturer to create truly personalised objects. User specific data — for example, a message to a loved one — has the potential to be transformed and abstracted into a permanent sentimental object.
We decided to use traditional casting methods to produce our final pieces as we found that the available 3D printing processes couldn’t replicate the personality and quality of ceramics made using traditional and artisanal methods. Our prototypes were developed in collaboration with expert ceramist, Natalie Strachan, who explored different finishes and materials to produce a result that retains and exposes the digital origins of the object, without losing the qualities of a traditional handmade piece.
This project is part of ongoing research by the studio around the traditional role of the artisan and crafts economy in a rapidly moving digital retail environment, creating better interfaces and infrastructure for on-demand customisable products.
Exciting next steps to be announced soon.