Liquid Glacial Smoke Coffee Table by Zaha Hadid

Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital, at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, is a collection of fantastic shapes and visions realized by artists using the tools of modern design and manufacturing.

Ron Labaco, curator at MAD, has put together an exhibition which represents the work of 80+ international designers and artists whose work offers a challenge to what falls within the realm of the possible when 3D tools are given their full expression.

One of the most attractive (and useful) creations comes from architect Zaha Hadid. Her Liquid Glacial Smoke Coffee Table is a swirl of water on vortex legs. It's not only lovely, but you can rest your drink on it as well.

Hadid, founder of Zaha Hadid Architects, won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004 and is known worldwide for her theoretical and academic work. Her projects build on thirty years of exploration and research in urbanism, architecture and design. Liquid Glacial Smoke Coffee Table is a wonderfully playful and organic outgrowth of her previous work.

Another stunning piece, from Lucas Maassen and Dries Verbruggen, The Brainwave Sofa, arises from data taken from a brain scan, and its combination of neuroscience and digital fabrication is a harbinger of things to come as AM reaches further into the art world.

The Brainwave Sofa by Lucas Maassen and Dries Verbruggen
 

An electroencephalogram was used to create – by applying electrodes to the artist's head – a 3D landscape. Maassen controlled the form by opening and closing his eyes while measuring a specific wavelength known as Alpha activity. Alpha activity strengthens as the eyes are closed as other brain activity that dims to prepare the brain for the massive input of information present shortly after the eyes are opened. The file, which captured three seconds of that brain activity, is then sent to a CNC milling machine which output the form in soft foam.

And not all the artists involved are just upstart types.

The list includes works from such art world stalwarts as photographer Chuck Close and painter and printmaker, Frank Stella.

Open through July 6 of next year, the show includes interactive stations, workshops and master classes taught by some of the designers and technologists whose work underpins the show.

Digital fabrication methods, which for the last couple of decades have often been relegated to more practical uses such as prototyping, come alive in this show and serve as a demonstration of what 3D printing and CNC machining can do in the service of art and style.