Zoe Mowat, a Montreal-based product designer, is the first Canadian designer (second if we count London-based expat Philippe Malouin) to create a piece for OTHR, a company that launched in early 2016 describing itself as a producer of “3D printed heirlooms for the 21st century.”
The bowls are extremely simple, featuring a flat handle spanning the pieces’ centres as their only adornment.
Somehow, the pieces still maintain both a sense of elegance (perhaps through subtle details, like the matched radii of the bowls’ bottoms and handles’ edges) and a splash of Mowat’s signature Memphis-esque whimsy - that is so clear in other works, like her dressing table that was designed for EQ3’s Assembly collection which was released last year.
Trestle comes in two sizes with three finish options: gloss white, matte black, and gloss celadon. As with all items in OTHR’s collection, each piece is printed on demand and numbered and arrives with a certificate of authenticity. At $85 each, though, it’s a novelty that’s not without a steep price point.
While 3D printing is often talked about as a technology that drastically reduces cost, the price to produce each item - particularly in materials like metal and porcelain - remains exponentially higher than mass manufacturing.
What 3d printing does mean, though, is that costs that traditionally presented barriers for designers trying to make their products available for mass-consumption are nearly eliminated. While platforms like Shapeways have catered to makers - whether professional designers or hobbyists - interested in utilising these tools, much of what’s produced on them has tended towards novelty trinkets and gadgets. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, it’s beginning to impact 3D Printing technologies with a bit of a negative reputation, and one that will be difficult to shake as the quality/cost ratio continues to improve. It’s for this reason that the approach to 3D printed products OTHR is taking feels both refreshing and somewhat necessary.
By presenting a curated collection of objects, leveraging the made-to-order nature of 3d printing with numbered editions and certificates of authenticity that make each object unique, and featuring the story of the designers behind each piece, OTHR is shifting the ethos around 3D printed consumer goods. These tactics also speak to the changing consumer culture around design that sees product releases increasingly acting as media content, not just in traditional print magazines but across an ever-widening array of blogs and social channels. It’s nice to see Canadian designed pieces joining their ranks.
Love Zoe Mowat's like we do? Browse her portfolio site, peruse her Instagram account or check out Trestle on OTHR.com or here's one of our past pieces on Houseporn.ca called Zoe Mowat’s Reinvention of Art Deco in Montreal, Quebec
All images courtesy of OTHR.
This article was written and researched by Miranda Corcoran, a designer based in Toronto, who recently completed studies in Industrial Design at OCAD University.