Visit to Japanese wood joinery master

Almost reassembled

I was very lucky to join the FabLab Kamakura team to a visit of traditional Japanese wood joint master Wadako Gei. He has developed an educational joint chair that consists of more than 30 unique wood joints. These joints come from hundreds of years of architecture tradition in Japan,

Some joints with pins are designed so that in an earthquake, only the locking pins would break and can easily be replaced. Some beams where divided into Continue Reading →

Handshake Gorilla workshop at FabLab Kamakura

Unexpectedly the gorillas would respond to eachother when their hand sensors touched. Fighting gorillas!

In Kamakura I gave a workshop with the Handshake Gorilla Arduino kit I designed for FabLab Manchester. Great fun to make robot gorillas in japan. The kit is meant to be a playful introduction to interaction design with the Arduino. When you grab the gorillas hand, you trigger a switch that makes a servo motor move the arm up and down. The result is a very polite handshaking gorilla. By using the Kinect skeleton tracker in Firefly, we also played with controlling the RoboGorillas with our own arm movements.

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The Rocket Scientists of the University of Tokyo

decifering the ardupilot

In tokyo I met aspiring FabLab nomad and PhD student Shohei Aoki. Together with his colleagues Shoehei did his best to help make the ArduPilot board work with the Hexacopter, but no success. Starting to wonder if the board is broken. One of Shohei’s colleagues is developing his own microcontroller for a Quadcopter. He even 3D printed his own frame which is pretty cool. I gave some tips on how to CNC mill propellers and Continue Reading →

Layer Chair iteration by Nick Graham

Layer stool by Nick Graham

This Layer Stool was created by Nick Graham at FabLab Wellington, New Zealand. Nick loaded his custom profile curves into my parametric design system to make a stool iteration of the Layer Chair series. Nick is a generally awesome guy doing a master in Open Design at Massey University. More info about the stool and Nicks research here. Great experience to be surprised by someone finding new possibilites with an open design.

Nick also invited me to participate in his Exquiste Corpse design experiment, where three participants had to design a part of a chair without knowing what the other two had designed. Nick designed the four legs, and Continue Reading →

Fujimock – Redefining material sourcing and processing

Making planks

FabLab Kamuakura have very interesting project about forests, material processing and design running. Fujimock is about defining new methods and workflows for harvesting local Japanese timber and how to design meaningful products with this raw material. In Japan more and more imported timber is being used over local timber. This is due to many factors, most importantly high domestic labour costs and cheap international transportation.

I was lucky to able to join one of the events, organized in collaboration with a sustainability and forest management organization behind mount Fuji. The participants spent a whole day in the forest learning about the ecosystem, forest management and how chop a tree Japanese style. For many of the participants it was their first time in a forest, let alone touching a saw, so you can safely say it was an entertaining experience. Continue Reading →

Lasering Pixelglasses at FabCafe

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I couldn’t allow myself to visit FabCafe to only talk and not make anything. So I returned and had one of the best espressos of Tokyo while I worked out a parametric Pixelglasses definition in Grasshopper.

You define the outline of your glasses with a vector line that you load into grasshopper. The size of the pixels depends on your material thickness. You can set the length and width of the glasses as well as the opacity of the hollow pixels. They work by the same principle as the shutter shades made famous by Kanye West.

The download link features some of the designs I made in collaboration with friends and visitors of FabCafe as well as the parametric system. The Grasshopper definition is slightly buggy and still work in progress. Contact me if you get stuck.

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FabCafe in Tokyo

The lasercutter in the middle, like a 21st century fireplace

FabCafe is an interesting combination of café and digital manufacturing services. In the middle of a very nice cafe interior, you have a large lasercutter. So while you have a coffee, you can have your design lasercut on the spot. Pretty cool.

30minutes of lasertime costs 2.000 Japanese Yen. You can have your own design made or buy a design by someone else. You can also have your laptop, tablet, notebook and so on engraved. They even stock some standard lasercutting materials like plywood, acrylic and felt.

Unlike most FabLabs, you don’t get to use the lasercutter yourself. The focus is more on providing a lasercutting service, than teaching users to understand and master the technology. FabCafe is a great introduction and eyeopener to digital fabrication for many people. People often walk in as regular café guests, but leave as lasercutting enthusiasts after a surprise encounter with local digital fabrication. Continue Reading →

Six thoughts on how to achieve global collaboration with digital fabrication

Its all about the documentation:

In order for people to build further upon the work that you create, they need to access it. So share your CAD files, machine settings, photos, screenshots and which materials you use.


Be empathic:

Think about how people perceive the knowledge that you share. What is the first thing people see when they open your CAD file? In which sequence does your photos tell the clearest story? Which information is superfluous? Too much information means no information.


Be prepared to accept the unexpected:

The golden rule of improv theatre is too accept whatever happens on stage. Otherwise the flow will get blocked when plot expectations don’t come through. Collaborative projects work the best when you open up for unexpected outcomes. If you have a very specific goal with a specific methodology, you will probably be better of paying people to execute your plans with you.


Finish your projects:

If you would like people to build further upon your work, it helps a lot if bring your work up to a specific goal and finish your documentation. Unfinished projects have a hard time being adopted in society.


Be like a sponge:

Before you start something from scratch, check if you can build on top of the work of others instead. The more inspiration and knowledge sources you absorb, they better creations you can expel. Embrace your sources and be generous with your credits.


Have fun:

Nobody likes a grumpy face, and play is the best way to learn. Don’t be afraid to try out or propose silly ideas, it might lead to something spectacular. When you fail, document your failure so other people can learn from it too. Things that go wrong is comical, and humour brings about the best atmosphere.

FabLife in Japan

Transporting materials lumberjack style on the Tokyo underground

Here are some snapshots from fab nomad life in Japan. Project posts coming soon Continue Reading →

Master mould for prototyping prosthetic feet

master mould - finished-scaled

I designed and CNC milled a two piece mould foot that can be used to create negative soft rubber moulds. These moulds can be used for experimenting with different casting solutions and techniques. The positive master mould can also be used for shell forming techniques with a leather and other materials. Continue Reading →