Experimentation is a pretty standard part of the creative process, but it usually ends with an “a-ha” moment; once you know what you want to make, the trial and error part of the equation is dunzo. For architect Andrew Kudless, however, R&D is never over; he often pushes his sculptural work so far it accidentally ends up in a ten-foot wide puddle of plaster on his studio floor.

Kudless founded his Oakland-based studio Matsys back in 2004, and has spent the last decade developing a wide range of new, bio-inspired production techniques that reverse the traditional approach to construction. “I’m interested in how living systems relate to architecture,” he tells Gizmodo. “Architecture usually follows a top-down design process—you have some type of genius idea, then everything is relegated to that one idea. There’s no consideration for how it might change over time.”

Kudless’s work is a kind of geometric adventurism, exploring the functional limits of the materials he works with, making them clamp, slot, bolt, or hinge together in new ways.

The “Seed" project, for example, is a huge, bulbous, 3D-printed concrete ball inspired by the shape of redwood seeds, snapped together and built up from modular components like patterns in a spherical textile.

Or take the bizarre, ironically very alien results from a straight-forward exploration of egg shapes. Called “SEAcraft Eggs,” and produced by his students at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, these show what can happen when expected materials are rigorously and systematically swapped out in new and unexpected formal combinations.

In all, an organic approach is key, with a twist; instead of setting out with a by-the-book blueprint, Kudless establishes certain physical constraints with the help of algorithms and computer simulations, then lets the materials do their thang, interacting in unexpected ways that result in an unpredictable physical result.

The “Chrysalis (III)" lamp, for instance, is a big, weird, coiling coral form of glowing geometric cells made from paper-backed wood veneers, and the eruption of each individual cell—its size, its placement, its angle—could never have been guessed in advance. It’s like living math, emitting light.

(via Digital Fabrication Gone Wild!)

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