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Sheyn’s 3D printed homeware is a glimpse into the universe of Tiny Architecture
Tiny Architecture homeware by Sheyn
Video: Courtesy of Sheyn

Sheyn’s 3D printed homeware is a glimpse into the universe of Tiny Architecture

The Vienna-based design studio crafts a 3D printed homeware collection made out of corn-based biomaterial— sustainable, renewable and recyclable.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Jan 10, 2023

One of the most revered and seminal architects of the 20th century, Mies van der Rohe’s renowned dictum ‘God is in the details’ reverberates in lecture halls of architecture and design schools even today. The aphorism is an apt annunciation of architects’ obsession with the most minute details, from furniture to fixtures—a fixation practised for aeons, akin to religious fervour. The arduous infatuation with designing for the smallest spaces has arrived at a crossroads with the democratisation of modern technologies like open source 3D modelling and 3D printing, paving the way for a new kind of architecture that can fit in the palm of your hand—or the corner of your coffee table. Is the future of architecture destined to thrive in the smallest room of your apartment?

Vienna, the unequivocal headquarters of the movement towards ‘smallness,’ has been a hub of ideation where pioneers of architecture such as Zaha Hadid have tutored aspiring students on the ins and outs of designing shrunken forms—while creating their own jewellery and skyscrapers. Nicolas Gold was one such student for whom Hadid’s classroom became a springboard for a higher purpose. In 2016, the designer along with his business co-founder, Markus Shaffer, launched Sheyn, a Vienna-based design studio dedicated to tiny architecture, producing jewellery, home goods and furniture design. Dubbed Tiny Architecture, the studio’s homeware collection is an intricately sculpted ensemble of vases, bowls, planters, and lighting design, made out of a sturdy and recyclable corn-based bioplastic. “The inspiration behind each design comes from different influences; sometimes it can be a detail of a building I saw, sometimes it can be the texture of a fabric,” says Nicolas Gold, Head of Design and Founder, Sheyn. “I like to combine clean and fluid geometries with intricate textures, in order to create elegant products that are just beautiful to look at,” he adds.

The studio harnesses the tools and thinking conventionally associated with architecture to create digital designs to adorn a desk, a new shelf, or the centre of a coffee table. Each piece is crafted using state-of-the-art modelling and fabrication techniques. The word Sheyn is a Yiddish term that translates to ‘beautiful,’ a name that represents cultural exchange and a yearning for beauty. “Sheyn means beautiful, and this is our philosophy for each product we design. Is it beautiful enough for people to put it in their homes?” shares Gold. The creative practice rests on four foundational tenets: smallness, which reiterates finding beauty in small places and getting the details right; goodness, in striving for unparalleled quality and pushing the limits of technology; consciousness, designing for the future and conceiving sustainable designs; and colourfulness, translating the uniqueness of colours into their product design.

The homeware collection is designed and 3D printed in Sheyn’s studio in Vienna. Every piece is individually made, ensuring effectively zero inventory and little to no waste. Moreover, customers enjoy a vast choice of colours to seamlessly blend into any interior. Each surprisingly light and sturdy shape is built from thousands of tiny patterns that provide structural integrity and textures—Bloz, Fald, Hoyt, Zayl, and Dorn—that invite touch. With 100% PLA, a material made from corn, every piece epitomises sustainability while being renewable and recyclable. “For the design of each product I start with the evolution of the geometry by folding and deforming surfaces into shapes,” explains the product designer. “Sometimes these surfaces can already have the texture in them and sometimes the textures are a derivation of the final geometrical result,” he adds.

Barring homeware, Sheyn has dabbled with 3D-printed concrete furniture and jewellery across the globe, establishing itself as a hub of the evolving tiny architecture movement in Vienna. Some asymmetrical and other fabric-like, the delicate folds and undulating textures of the designs certainly implant a curiosity in the onlooker’s mind—their welcoming tangibility withholding a clandestine purpose of consciousness. “We are constantly searching for new scales to apply our design principles on,” says Gold as he sheds light on the studio’s perpetual pursuit of novelty, propelled ahead by innovative technology, a creative eye, and the burgeoning universe of the tiny.

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