Digital Carpentry & Router Aesthetics

Discussing Bruce Sterling on Authenticity with CNC Enabled Design

In a recent article in Make Magazine Volume 11 entitled Router Aesthetics, Bruce Sterling discusses the current wave of designs that are emerging that come straight from the CNC router, without any pretense to represent traditional carpentry methods of construction. The honesty of construction being essential to realizing the design with its layered, slots and tabs being compared favorably to 8-bit game graphics. The 90’s fascination with the ‘blobject’ giving way to an edgier, planar design aesthetic.

Using the CNC in a pure way means thinking of it as a completely different tool to a panel saw, tenon saw, drill, spindle molder whatever and using it for what it is. We previously mentioned on the Ponoko blog the project by Flexible Stream, where they are sharing 50 digital wood joints including the actual files needed, along with a PDF of instructions, and examples of use, all under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.

The fact Prof. Jochen Gros and Designer Friedrich Sulzer are sharing these techniques is another movement away from the pre-industrial concepts of keeping a trade secret, to stop outsiders/amateurs from making their own. Now as the CNC process becomes more accessible via 100k Garages and similar initiatives, sharing this information with ‘amateurs’ becomes all the more empowering. The aesthetic that is generated should quickly become more fractured and diverse, along with the complexity of construction techniques (and software) used.

I think this is one of the most exciting products of the democratization of the tools of design, diversity. If we want the same product aesthetic all around the western world we can go to Ikea.

If we want originality, diversity and innovation, let’s unleash the tools of manufacture.

oh yeah, is Bruce’s (C)lamp influenced by, or an influencer of Router Aesthetics??

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This is outstanding. Makes me want to make stuff. Reminds me of a lecture I gave to my students about laser cut joint techniques. I should turn that into a blog post soon.

outstanding post, i totally agree with you in the need for originality and given the plethora of tools and attachments that are available to the craftsman there’s no excuse not to innovate!

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