June 9, 2011

Better Nouveau curates and sells post-digital design objects: crafting matter from code.



We live in times of accelerated change, in a world that is infinitely more complex than it used to be. There is a sea change, in both what is possible and what is necessary, that as designers we feel compelled to embrace.

Better Nouveau is a humble attempt to tap into these extraordinary new forces aligning around us.

It's an experimental process. We cannot foresee its outcome yet, nor where it will lead us. But we sure are eager to see what happens.


Better Nouveau's focus is digital materiality. What we want to figure out is how to best design physical products for this era of social networks, direct digital manufacturing and creative commons.

We want to find out whether people are ready to connect emotionally to products spawn by data, inspired by the algorithmic beauty of nature, and personalized through interaction.

And if matter generated by code can still be sensual, how can we tie that in with traditional crafts?


Since software technology is what makes the world go around today, we are happy to see a new breed of designers creating and programming their own digital tools by applying computational strategies to design.

They are not designing static products, nor are they merely using commercial digital technologies as a tool. They are embracing computation as their main design medium, creating dynamic processes. And we love them for that.

Better Nouveau endeavors to work with authors who can act as a catalyst in the seamless transition from process-based design to physical materiality.


Where does all the design go? The very infrastructure of design, manufacture, and retail must be reevaluated, as virtualization is finally being overshadowed by the chance to truly bridge the gap between bits and atoms.

Rapid manufacturing technologies mean digital processes can be baked into physical objects, allowing computational design to access – at long last! – the sensuality of matter. And now complexity is decoupled from cost: we can produce small batches or even unique personal objects, boost the rate of project mutations or iterations, and release new generations of products faster than ever before.

The experience and objects that Better Nouveau offers strive to prove how beautiful all of this can be.


Everything we know, we learned from people who were generous enough to share their successes and failures.

We feel we are in huge debt with the open source community, and we are eager to give back if we can.

That is why Better Nouveau will soon have a "process" section where we will document our fabrication techniques and share the most interesting parts of the process and source code behind each project.


Thanks to the changes we mentioned, today's scenario is incredibly stimulating for anyone up for contributing to design education opportunities.

Can design be taught? The truth is we really don't know. But Better Nouveau is made up of men and women of action, and we are eager to find out what we can do.

We are planning a series of short project-based workshops. The first few will be held in our hometown, Turin (Italy), under the program title "Tabula Rasa". Their goal will be to define a set of basic skills for people who want to learn more about computational strategies in design.