News: next month's International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York will be the first major design fair to place 3D printing and digital fabrication at the core of its programme, with a four-day series of workshops introducing the hardware and software that could change the face of design, manufacturing and distribution (+ interview).
DesignX, which takes place from 18 to 21 May alongside ICFF, will comprise 15 one and two-hour workshops on topics including 3D printing, online product customisation, parametric design and even 4D printing – the nascent technology of programming materials capable of self-assembly.
"At [...] these trade shows, you typically have a very large audience who attend over multiple days," explains Ronnie Parsons, a 3D printing expert from New York studio Mode Collective, who will lead the event's 3D printing workshops with design partner Gil Akos. "There are talks that address design and technology, but there really isn't anything that allows people to have direct access to industry leaders through an educational programming model.
"So we thought, why don’t we have a specially built classroom, a lounge space with a little gallery, and put that in the middle of the showroom floor and do educational programming throughout the course of the entire trade show? So that people who attend ICFF could take classes in the very tools and technology that are used to make the things that are surrounding them at the event."
Partnering with The Architect's Newspaper, Parsons and Akos have put together a programme of workshops led by experts from across the digital design and manufacturing industry, including MIT architecture and programming lecturer Skylar Tibbits, Duann Scott of 3D printing marketplace Shapeways, programmers Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg from Massachusetts design studio Nervous System, and Francis Bitonti, whose 3D-printed dress for burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese we previously featured on Dezeen.
Other DesignX workshops will include programmer Andy Payne's introduction to using Arduino microcontrollers to control design environments, a look at the networked future of computer-aided design, and a session about online marketplaces for distributed manufacturing.
"3D printing is the thing that is most visible right now, that's the thing that is most at the surface," says Parsons. "But I think that the skill that is really important for designers in the future is not really 3D printing, but actually the processes of thinking through the design to production phase – beginning to think about how things are made and how the new tools and technology out there will change the way you think about design."
Attendees can sign up for any number of workshops individually, but must already be registered to attend ICFF.
This month Dezeen launched Print Shift, a one-off print-on-demand magazine dedicated exploring the fast-changing world of 3D printing and the way the new technology is changing the worlds of architecture and design – see all our coverage of 3D printing.