Piranesi’s sketch brought to reality. Source: Factum Arte
Piranesi’s sketch brought to reality. Source: Factum Arte

A whimsical collection of furniture designs created by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an eighteenth century Italian architect, has been 3D printed.

The 3D printed designs are part of an exhibit at the Sir John Soane Museum in London. The exhibit is called “Diverse Maniere: Piranesi, Fantasy and Excess,” and will be on display until May 31st, 2014.  The 3D printed furniture of Piranesi’s designs was created by Factum Arte.

Factum Arte is made up of a team of artists, technicians, and conservators devoted to museum conservation and contemporary art. Some of the projects that Factum Arte has worked on include work for museums such as The Musée du Louvre, The British Museum and The Pergamon Museum.

John Soane Museum collaborated with Factum Arte and Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The collection is based on a group of designs by Piranesi that was never realized during his lifetime. The designs, “Diverse Maniere,” were originally created in 1769 and were put to physical form for the first time in 2014.

Factum Arte chose to produce eight objects of the collection, including a marble chimney, an altar, coffee pot, two bronze tripods, a chair, vase, and candelabrum. Some of the pieces were created using traditional modeling methods and others were used with organic modeling software.

Factum Arte collaborated with Materialise, using Europe’s largest stereolithographic printers, milling, fused deposition modeling (FDM), electro-forming and plating, and molding and casting technologies to bring the designs to life.

One of the tripods was produced by voxelstudios in Madrid and then prototyped by Materialise. Using stereolithography, the tripod was divided into sections and 3D printed in a vat of liquid polymer that hardened when exposed to a laser beam. The surface was reworked by hand to add the exquisite details in Piranesi’s sketches. Then a silicon mold was made in which the tripod was cast.

“Three-dimensional printing technology opens up great possibilities. Not only can fragile works of art be replicated down to surface color and texture, but entire monuments can also be recorded and reproduced in this manner,” said Jerzy J. Kierkuc-Bielinski, curator of the exhibition.

“Sir John Soane, with his love of new building technologies and use of casts and models in his teaching and architectural practice, would undoubtedly have embraced the potential of the three-dimensional print,” he added.