Creating, manufacturing and selling her own furniture and homeware designs are her thing. Story telling is how you would define her creations. Behind every collection is a tale, either to revive social awareness or to convey nostalgic sentiments. Drawn to the vintage world, each design constantly re-invents traditions with a fresh new contemporary technique, and the result is a wonderful mélange of contrasts.
Meet Sandra Macaron, a conceptual designer and interior architect behind a host of venues and creations. The designer speaks to Nayla Kurd about ‘technology in design’ and introduces her captivating Bird Cage line to our readers.
Ekaruna Creating bespoke 3D printed furniture sounds very futuristic to us. Could you talk us through the process?
Sandra Macaron 3D printing is the process of making a threedimensional object, in which successive layers of material are laid down under computer control. In theory, any solid object can be printed. 3D printing can turn computerised visions into reality; imagine any shape or form realised meticulously and in no time, it’s surreal. After award winning Peelight in 2008, neON neOFF in 2009 and Wej Mreye in 2012, comes Bird Cage, one of Sandra Macaron’s many contradictory and story-telling works.
“Between guilt’s levity and weight, the cage as a prison and a promise. A design between Zen and discomfort, that is delicate, volatile and poetic. The idea behind the collection is a free Bird symbolizing us individuals, locked up in a Cage implying the imprisoned world we live in. The work is a metaphorical representation of the oppressed individuals living in a system of barriers, which mould people.” Ekaruna 3D printers are an exciting technology, but another hot new tool known as laser cutters may have just as significant of an impact in real-world projects. Could you give us more information about this technology?
Sandra Macaron Laser cutters were invented some 50 years ago, but only became part of the home workshop in the past few years. These 2D cutters bring an impressive flexibility to a wide range of applications. For instance, if manufacturers want to experiment with creative ideas that need to be produced with engineering-grade plastics, wood, leather, and metal, to name a few, laser cutters are often the only fitting tool. And so, similarly to the 3D printing technology, laser cutting is becoming so common in creating precise perforations, patterns, engravings, etchings and so on, and is used to a greater extent in all aspects of design, specifically furniture and interior design. A good illustration of the laser-cutting trend in furniture would be the mashrabiya - a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework, typically found in Arabic architecture.
Ekaruna What’s the main difference between the laser cut and 3D printed techniques (in terms of time, costs, adaptability etc)?
Sandra Macaron Both technologies stem from computerised machines, but have different techniques and visual effects. One is more about three-dimensional feel, the other about perforation, engraving, etching et al. They are both relatively quick to manufacture and cost effective compared to traditional techniques in view of the fact that they need lower tooling costs. But, laser cutters can produce much larger objects than standard 3D prints in a much shorter time, and usually for a significantly lower cost.
Ekaruna What about computer-programmed CNC milling? Could you help us paint a clearer image of the process?
Sandra Macaron CNC milling is a computer-controlled machine that is used for cutting hard material such as wood, aluminium, steel, plastic, and corian. It is mainly used for the production of door carvings, interior and exterior decorations, wood panels, signboards, wooden frames, mouldings, musical instruments and furniture.
Ekaruna Say a piece of furniture needs repair or replacement parts? Is it easy and cost friendly to deal with such concerns when dealing with such technologies?
Sandra Macaron It actually all depends on the technology used. If the piece is 3D printed, then the object can’t be repaired and should be replaced. As for the other technologies, they are not totally machine made; parts are cut and moulded by technology then combined by hand, and so repairing is possible.
Ekaruna These technologies are still not very extensively used though. Do you think that there is a fear that 3D printed, computer-programmed and laser cut furniture will not be as sturdy or as well made as traditionally produced furniture?
Sandra Macaron The technique is not necessarily the main factor affecting the life span or stability of the piece. Generally, it depends on the material and design of the object. But, the design process is the most important aspect in ensuring the best final
result. The advantages of these new technologies though, are the ability to create impossible features from traditional techniques whilst using less material, all the while creating lightweight products.
Ekaruna These futuristic concepts were perceived in an attempt to give customers the freedom to design their own furniture. How are designers adapting to the idea? Does that conflict with designers’ work in any way?
Sandra Macaron Imagine printing your own chair at the nearest stationers. That would be cool, right? You still need to design the shape and form of your piece though, so there’s no conflict with the designer’s work. The design process is still indispensable, and not to forget, you still need to buy the right to print that specific design.
Ekaruna New tech advancements in furniture design are all about creating new ways of living. Could you expand on that?
Sandra Macaron It’s all about combining an everyday object with another utility, such as merging a lamp with a table. Creating a ‘new’ object that bears more than a single use, and so creating new ways of living. Ekaruna Do you think these technologies suggest the demise of mass-production in furniture design?
Sandra Macaron On the contrary, these technologies are proof of an industrial revolution, the affirmation of mass production, easy accessibility, fast production and globalization. They offer incredible advantages and opportunities to the design community.
Ekaruna Crafting such precisely and carefully put furniture by hand is nearly impossible. Given the fact that these technologies combine craft, art, design and technology, do you think they’ll replace the work of artists in any way?
Sandra Macaron True, but I personally still have a weakness for handmade pieces and products, and I, like many others, think they’re irreplaceable. Though full of imperfections, mixed with a loss of control, all the while allowing the materials to make some of the decisions, leaving things to chance and improvising in the final stages of production, these aspects of the handmade process make for the most interesting results. The problem with craft though, is that it’s expensive, but some people still yearn for that.
Images Courtesy of Bernard Khalil