Don't Design Products—Design For Humanity: Neri Oxman On 3D Printing
Much of Oxman's work is inspired by nature. Silkworms, for example, are real-life 3D printers in action. By attaching a magnetometer to a silkworm, Oxman is able to study how the creature weaves its silk cocoon so that eventually the process can be replicated by humans. This is important, she says, as the printers we use today create 3D objects out of 2D bases by layering material on top of each other. In nature, however, the process is quite different. And, understanding this difference is key to eliminating the current limitations of 3D printing technology. She also notes that bringing this technology out of the lab and into the mainstream has broad implcations for the design methods of the future. "The importance for business is to realize that we’re not selling products, we’re selling processes," Oxman says. "We’re designing for humanity."
Forward-thinking, yet extremely accessible, Oxman expands on her mind-bending work in her keynotes. Her aesthetic encourages the fusion of nature and design, where objects seamlessly meld with the natural world around them. As Oxman shows us, the role of new technologies will be to advance the processes that already exist all around us. She teaches us how to harness the power of the natural world to help solve some of our most daunting problems.