Collagene is a collection of fibrous face masks designed through an independently developed software application that allows the integration of 3d scanning, generative design and 3d printing.

The project was developed as part of an EU-funded one-year research programme for innovative start-ups, in the region Emilia-Romagna (Italy), 2012-2013, by MHOX (in its embryo
DOTHEMUTATION | generative design lab). It constitutes the main demonstrator of an art-driven innovation initiative that proposed an integrated system of mass customisation of wearable products, through 3d scanning of the human body, generative design of digital models, 3d printing of the products. The project investigated these new technologies to propose a scenario where wearable products and devices are personalised on the individual anatomies of the wearer’s, instead of coming in a limited number of sizes.

Artistically, the project was aimed at exploring postnatural visual languages for the design of wearable artifacts, that challenged the conventional distinction between natural and artificial, material and digital, human and non-human, as well as rethinking the relationship between the human body and technology.

The masks are 3d printed with SLS technology in Windform materials by CRP Technology Srl.

The creation of a set of masks offers the opportunity of rethinking the relationship between body and wearable artifact, imagining the latter as the product of the growth of a virtual organism on the topographic anatomy of the human body. The object keeps its traditional functions of body prosthesis, providing identity alteration and concealment, stimulating viewers’ imagination and visual association.
The project explores the border territory between physical and virtual, connecting computer code’s abstractions with the intimate, visceral dimension of body alteration’s sense brought by the mask theme. The topographic anatomy of the human body acts as input for a set of algorithms that generate the fibres composing the objects, creating a material formation that after 3d printing perfectly fits its territory, people’s faces.
The set of objects produced represents a population of differentiated individuals, phenotypes sharing the same genotype. No matter how many masks might be produced, they all will share the same genetic code. The system is then flexible to offer possibilities of formal variation, and create even highly different objects, customizable on different faces and as expression of different designers.
Masks are produced through additive manufacturing technology, also known as 3d printing, and WINDFORM materials provided by CRP Group from Modena. This production technology is perfectly integrated in the design strategy, allowing to create an hypothetically extended set of unique objects, each different from the other, of highly articulated geometry. Moreover, the complete digitalization of the processes allows the web integration, and consequently the possibility of relocating the different development phases: it is possible to scan the face, create the mask and produce it in totally distinct places.
All this technological benefits do not imply losses for the visual and material qualities of the objects: WINDFORM materials, specifically WINDFORM LX 2.0, black polyamide based material reinforced with glass fibre used in high performance fields from motorsport to aerospace industry, are aesthetically pleasant, able to preserve in time the chromatic features, showing important mechanical characteristics that allow to create highly complex geometries avoiding the risk of breakings or deformations. The feeling on the skin is nice, allowing for a long-lasting dressing.
A new concept of the object is proposed, moving away from standard models that are identically reproduced in sizes, to embrace open processes of mass customisation, and the production of unique pieces. The creation of a generative application allows a strong possibility of customization reducing the design effort on each object to a simpler user interaction.
Form, structure, colour, size, ergonomics, pattern of the objects can be radically transformed according to personal preferences and features, and produced as unique pieces through 3d printing and CNC fabrication techniques, together with high quality and performing materials as WINDFORM.
The software application is written in Processing, a programming open-source framework based on Java. The face scan is performed using a Kinect sensor, that allows to acquire the topographic and chromatic data of the models in the digital environment. The mask is created drawing traces on the digital faces of the models, from which the set of curves that forms the fibrous system is generated. From the fibrous system the application generates the 3d geometry that forms the body of the mask.
design: MHOX
research and coding: Filippo Nassetti, Alessandro Zomparelli
masks design: Mario Da Deppo, Filippo Nassetti, Alessandro Zomparelli
fabrication: CRP Group, WINDFORM
models: Lucio Pedrazzi, Silvia Tagliazucchi, Maria Regina Tedeschini
make-up and dresses: Laura Bedosti, Lucia Raffaelli
photographic support: Studio 129, Stefano Paolini
soundtrack: NONIMA - protozoa, ONO - difference
video production: MHOX
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