Ammar Eloueini from AEDS discusses the J-House & Design Technology

Ammar Eloueini from AEDS discusses the J-House & Design Technology

"The more you build an expertise the better you use the technology, the less you use the technology- how to use it in the best way, rather than in an excessive way."

Ammar Eloueini discusses how AEDS's focus on materials drives their approach for utilizing digital technologies & how craft is still an essential part of digital fabrication.  You can download the audio file here.

Image Credits: AEDS



We use technology in very different ways. It could generate some forms. It could generate some ideas for projects. But also, we are very interested in materials, and a lot of the projects are material based. And we try to use technology as much as we can, wherever it's needed. We have great fascination, but we're not fetishist about technology. In all the work, we try to use it where it's needed, where it makes sense. We try to be creative, like those beams I was talking about for this house, and how to deform the three-dimensional square beam. But also, using zip-ties to connect polycarbonate that was CNC routed to the lost layer, to be able to fold it.

To me, what is interesting as how to work with an idea from conceptually, but also it's representation, but also it's implementation. And if you take the example of the chairs, the chairs are based on the idea of understanding technology. And technology, to me, is building an expertise in it. And almost the more you build this expertise, the better you use the technology. And almost the less you use the technology, how to minimize the use of technology or use it in the best way, rather than in this excessive, overwhelming, "let me show you what we can do with technology". It could be visible, it could be totally invisible. It doesn't need always to scream technology or additional technology. It could be very discreet, but very effective. Again, to me, that's the, there is a spectrum. One is the chair where it is based on, everything about this design is based on technology, from its process to conceptual ideas to it's representation to its implementation.

If you take the steel structure for the J-House, it is very discreet and it's very useful. And this project would have been almost impossible to achieve, or at least it would have to happen in a different way, if it wasn't about the technology. But it's not, the design itself doesn't scream technology. It's embedded in the implementation. Even for concrete former, we use CNC router to generate all the former, just to make it easier. Because we are in a context where labor is not always the most qualified, or we don't want to bring people, we want to work locally with people. But we want to make it easy for them, and if technology can facilitate that and make them do work that usually they don't do or do not know how to do it, great, let's use it and let's use it as much as we can.

It's almost, we're reverting to, kind of anti-craft in a certain way with, the tools are not the old tools, they are new tools that we are working with. But even fabricators, they, if we're talking about robots or CNC machines, they all developed their own way of using these equipments. To take an example, we did a lot of polycarbonate projects. And the first one, it was probably the guy who did it, not only didn't make money, but probably lost money on that job. But he was very excited about trying something new. It's sounds very simple. You route the polycarbonate to the lost layer, et voila, you have it and you just fold it, put zip ties in, and you have a project. The reality of it is it is a little bit more complicated than this, because once you start routing the polycarbonate, you have all the dust that goes into the polycarbonate, especially the type we use as we use very tight cells. But also to just, all these adjustments are very different. So we came with crazy ideas. One was to torch the polycarbonate to burn all these You know, late at night when you start, like, "OK, we need to solve this problem. We have a problem here." Up to more serious ways of thinking about it. And once we develop the way of making something like this happen, then all the projects, and most of the polycarbonate projects were developed with this guy.

So when I had a project in Berlin with issey Miyake I convinced him that making it in Chicago--making the fabrication in Chicago and shipping it, is more logical than making the fabrication. It's not that they don't have CNC router machines in Berlin, but to work with this group of people that worked on a few projects and were able to develop these techniques. Same thing with the Pavillon de L'Asrsnal project. All these projects were developed in Chicago, fabricated in Chicago into different places. So those are relationships are really important, and it's not just about machines and generic, they are not as generic as one might think they are.

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