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Solar Machine Spins Sunlight-Shaped Furniture 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the just-because-you-can-do-something dept.
Mike writes "Austrian designers mischer'traxler have created a solar powered machine that makes an incredible array of furnishings that vary based on how much sunlight it receives over the course of a day. Titled 'The Idea of a Tree,' the machine spins spools of thread into stools, benches, containers, and lamp shades that wax and wane as the available sunlight shifts. Furniture created during cloudy winter days will be wrapped more slowly, causing it to be darker in color, thicker, and smaller than pieces created during the sun-soaked summer months."

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Solar Machine Spins Sunlight-Shaped Furniture

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  • by us7892 (655683) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @04:36PM (#28299749) Homepage
    So what.
  • and useless use of the solar energy.

    But maybe I'm too dumb to appreciate it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Its machine art. Not practical, but conceptual. Nature's creations are highly dependent on the surrounding climate. Our human creations tend to be the same regardless of the weather ( with a few exceptions we take great care in creating an ideal environment for anything whose quality would depend upon the surrounding climate). So this is a mixture between the two. Something human made that depends upon the environment on purpose.

      I'm not buying the furniture, but its interesting. If I were ever to find myse

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by stonewallred (1465497)
      I would not make a machine like this, nor do i think it is a economic based thing. It is art, pure and simple. I thought it was neat, and pretty interesting, but it does not compare to a good painting or killer song. YMMV.
    • by AndyG314 (760442)
      I don't think the point was to create something directly usuefull. The point is to produce a machine that makes things with solar power to learn about solar powered machines. Often many usless machine's are made before one makes a usueful one. I beleive they are called prototypes.
      • by 2names (531755)
        Often many usless machine's are made before one makes a usueful one.

        In my family, I called them "older sisters."
      • From TFA:

        In developing "The Idea of a Tree", Mischer'traxler were drawn towards both automated machines and the concept that "a tree is a product of its specific time and place.
        It reacts and develops according to its surrounding and constantly records various environmental impacts in its growth process.
        Each single tree tells its own story of development."
        In their "Idea of a Tree" project they create a product that is a immediately linked to the environment in which it is produced, and fittingly each product bears a stamp notating the date and place where it was created.

        The point of the project was to try to emulate a tree and the way it produces fruit.
        Which is inherently not a very productive process. That is why trees employ redundancy. A lot of it.

        Basically, they have developed a very complicated replacement for a "Made in" stamp.

      • But I don't think that this was meant as a prototype for anything. It was meant as an art piece, not as a practical design.
  • interesting use of solar energy, but these are some ugly looking furniture
  • by Anonymous Coward

    looks like an interesting DIY project, anyone know the specifics of the thread and resin used to do something like this?

  • So they hooked a machine to a solar power source whose varied power output results in slightly different products... I guess the little kids in africa and china making overpriced furnishings with imperfections, err, personality... can now be replaced.
  • The machine cranks out 1 piece per day, a maximum of 365 pieces per year. At that rate, how many years does it take to recoup the cost of the machine, with at least $500 worth of solar panels?
    • Philistine. There's more to life than $$$$.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Money may not buy love, but it can sure get you laid by some pretty hot babes! ;-)

        Seriously, this is more a piece of performance art than a manufacturing device. The ecology would better be served by plugging those solar panels into the grid. Use regular AC power to manufacture the furniture, and just use a photocell to vary the spin rate in proportion to incident sunlight. Oh, and I've never even been to Philistia!
        • Re:No money in it. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:10PM (#28300339) Journal

          Seriously, this is more a piece of performance art than a manufacturing device.

          And...?

          Day 1, lesson 1 at critic's school. You cannot criticise something, be it a movie, book, song, painting, or a solar powered machine, for failing to do something it does not set out to do.

          Was there anything in TFA that suggested that this thing was setting out to be an automated cash cow for mass producing furniture? I didn't see it.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by lennier (44736)

            "You cannot criticise something, be it a movie, book, song, painting, or a solar powered machine, for failing to do something it does not set out to do."

            Sure you can. You can criticise it for trying to do something stupid that should never have been attempted in the first place.

            "Your atomic bomb blew up and killed everyone. Er, that's not so great actually"
            "Hey! You can't criticise my work of SCIENCE!"

            "Your installation artwork is pointless and takes up space."
            "Hey! You can't criticise my work of ART!"

            • Re:No money in it. (Score:4, Insightful)

              by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @07:20PM (#28302155) Journal

              Sure you can.

              Can what? Criticise it for failing to do something it does not set out to do? I disagree.

              You can criticise it for trying to do something stupid that should never have been attempted in the first place.

              That's a different thing from criticising it for failing to do something it does not set out to do.

              "Your atom bomb killed everyone!" Valid criticism.

              "Your atom bomb does not take me to work in style while returning 30MPG!" Invalid criticism.

              • I've seen grammar-nazis.. I've seen internet-nazis.. I've even seen nazi-nazis.. but criticism-nazis? that's a new one.

            • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

              by dangitman (862676)
              You really are a big sack of stupid.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Wee_Bit_Hazed (879644)
      They will probably sell each piece for $500.
    • by tsalmark (1265778)
      Have you seen the price of designer furniture. If he can get $500 a pop, it wont take long to break even.
      • I've seen pieces at big lots running higher than $500.
      • I try to avoid stereotyping when reading slashdot, but it looks like most of the posters on this article have never seen the inside of an art museum (or even a furniture store that doesn't feature arrows on the floor to show customers which way to walk.) How much did it cost Jeff Koons [balloonhq.com] to build a giant balloon dog out of steel so it looked like actual balloons? And that can't even be used as practical furniture. Any revenue from selling individual pieces should be incidental; if they market it right, the
    • Re:No money in it. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLostSamurai (1051736) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:00PM (#28300149)

      The machine cranks out 1 piece per day, a maximum of 365 pieces per year. At that rate, how many years does it take to recoup the cost of the machine, with at least $500 worth of solar panels?

      And of course anything that doesn't bring a profit isn't worth doing.

      This machine doesn't make furniture, it churns out 1 piece of sunlight created functional art a day, which could easily sell for way more than the price of the machine. I'm not saying I would pay for it, but value is in the eye of the beholder.

      • by fbjon (692006)
        I'd buy one. Because it has geek factor.
      • Re:No money in it. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anenome (1250374) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @11:26PM (#28304031)

        Anything relying on commercial success for its continued existence needs to make a profit, yes.

        This is a step forward in furniture in the sense that we one day want to have machines making everything for us from freely available energy and materials--all the way down to bio-engineering plants which can grow into customized shapes. Can you imagine a plant which grows the shape of a couch frame out of, say, oak? Bamboo and seaweed have super-fast growing genes. Why not create a way to grow the frame of a house rather than cut and shape it. Let nature do the work.

    • The machine cranks out 1 piece per day, a maximum of 365 pieces per year. At that rate, how many years does it take to recoup the cost of the machine, with at least $500 worth of solar panels?

      Where does this perverse notion come from that all of human endeavour must be about making a profit?

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Where does this perverse notion come from that all of human endeavour must be about making a profit?

        Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations [online-literature.com], 1776.

        What?!? You mean that was a rhetorical question?
        • by immakiku (777365)
          Actually in economics, we measure items by "utility", not pure currency. So if art brings joy to someone, it makes sense within the economic framework to produce it, as long as the joy it brought is greater than the work it cost to produce.
          • by Hatta (162192)

            it makes sense within the economic framework to produce it, as long as the joy it brought is greater than the work it cost to produce.

            How interesting that you consider work to be the inverse of joy.

        • by JustOK (667959)

          If you don't want me to make a profit, I'll have to charge you extra.

      • Where does this perverse notion come from that all of human endeavour must be about making a profit?

        What exactly is perverse about producing more than you consume? That's what a profit is, after all.

        • Where does this perverse notion come from that all of human endeavour must be about making a profit?

          What exactly is perverse about producing more than you consume? That's what a profit is, after all.

          Who said anything about profit being perverse? I said that it was perverse to suggest that EVERYTHING we do has to be profitable.

      • Evidently you've never looked at the price of designer furniture. One.

    • by db10 (740174)
      I crank out about one piece a day, of about the same quality it seems. At least I have the decency to flush mine.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The machine cranks out 1 piece per day, a maximum of 365 pieces per year. At that rate, how many years does it take to recoup the cost of the machine, with at least $500 worth of solar panels?

      Dude, they're showing it at an international design show. You know, a bunch of other artists and designers who will think this is cool. I personally thought the lampshades looked really cool -- I'm willing to bet that where these are very unique art pieces, it will be something they can sell for quite a bit if they'r

  • OR... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcfatboy93 (1363705)

    you could plug it into an outlet and make more consistent furniture and make it all the time.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      you could plug it into an outlet and make more consistent furniture and make it all the time.

      Assuming of course you wanted perfectly uniform and consistent furniture all of the time.

      Given that the entire point was to create something which varied in a more organic manner, they obviously didn't want to do what you suggest.

      They didn't create the machine to come up with a new way of creating furniture, they did it to make one-of-a-kind pieces.

      Cheers

  • It's the iPhone killer we've all been waiting for!

    ...for which we've been waiting. Sorry, everyone. Sorry! I got a little carried away there.
  • by AaronParsons (1172445) on Thursday June 11, 2009 @05:27PM (#28300653) Homepage

    the machine spins spools ... into stools

    My dog does this... he tears apart yarn, eats it, and eventually it comes out the other end.

  • Saying 'sunlight-shaped' led me to think that the variation in sunlight caused the machine to vary the 3-dimensional form of the furniture. But the machine does nothing of the kind.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      Actually, it appears it does alter the 3D form. Look at the pictures - there are variations in the thickness caused by the intensity of the sunlight. And it even says so in the summary: "...causing it to be darker in color, thicker, and smaller than pieces created during the sun-soaked summer months".
  • I'm imagining a whole life-cycle loop, with a farm of these things churning out chairs, and Ballmer at the other end of the life-cycle wrecking them. They just need a way to recycle the broken pieces back into chairs again.
    • by Dunbal (464142)

      They just need a way to recycle the broken pieces back into chairs again.

            That's the beauty of the Open Source Community. Oh you LOVE us when you actually NEED us, and steal our ideas/sue us when it suits you...

  • by thethibs (882667)
    I guess I'm just not cool enough to get the point of this exercise.
  • Well I like the concept! It's not meant to be pretty, an alternative form of cheap labor, or cure cancer. "[The idea of the] project was to bring the recording qualities of a tree and its dependence on natural cycles into products. Therefore machines were developed which are recording and producing at the same time." It helps reading before you spool drivel ;D
  • Noone will ever see my comment, but here goes.

    Actually, this is genius.

    This puts furniture in a whole new realm.

    If it wasn't so craptastic looking it could catch on like wine.
    People pay huge amounts of money for specific vintage wines because
    the rain, sun and soil nutrients were a specific amount to create a
    certain taste.

    Well it's possible people would by a chair, because it fits their ass perfectly
    due to the random timing of sun and clouds.

    There'll be chair snobs! Drink your Château La Conseillante 18

    • I saw your comment.

      And not just 2012; but July 17th 2012, when it was mildly overcast from 11a to 12:12p, which creates just the right low spot just there.

      Ahh....

  • Dev 1: How the hell do we make these glass tubes uniform in color, density and size with varying solar power input to our device?
    Dev 2: I dunno, that's a tough problem, we should give it a week and see if we can figure it out.

    one week later

    Dev 1: You got anything?
    Dev 2: Not a thing.
    Dev 1: Me neither. Fuck it. Let's call it art and be done with it.

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