‘Tradigital’ Chinese craft: Shandong Black Pottery

DGD is proud to release ‘TRADIGITAL’ Chinese Craft. In a age where the digital is overtaking the hand-made in the production process Daniel Gillen, through DGD and Shandong Architecture University, Jinan, China, runs workshops to reimagine a way to maintain tradition and local industry against the forces of new global production methods.

Traditional Chinese craft is dead and designers must now re-imagine past techniques and reinterpret these crafts to ensure the future of Chinese design and creation.  Shandong Province is known for ancient processes producing iconic black ceramics.  Longshan culture, which was bred in the New Stone Age of China, and with a history 4,500 years old, risks extinction due to the industrialized production of these art forms.  Can we learn from past masters and continue their legacy in the computational and digital world we now live?

Tradigital, reimagining traditional methods

“At DGD we are attempting to advance the levels of architectural design and education…”

Tradigital, Reimagining traditional methods

For the twelve day intensive workshop, students of Shandong Architecture University worked with local black pottery craftsman while studying traditional design geometries, fusing and embedding design elements from the past to create a new materiality.  Once traditional geometries were defined, designs were then introduced to physics based processes.
‘TRADIGITAL’ explored Grasshopper, Weaverbird and Kangaroo softwares as the conceptual and technical basis in the choreography of traditional black pottery and their evolutionary forms.  3D models were influenced by forces like Wind and Gravity altering their formal perfection giving them an almost ‘human’ feeling.  Having no prior 3D or computational design experience two undergraduate students produced this exceptional body of work excelling at parametric design and advancing the use of physics based modeling techniques.
Selected vases were then rapid prototyped (3D printed) using ABS plastic at heights exceeding 400mm, sanded, primed, and automotively painted by local artisans prior to being photographed.  Set in natural environments these objects may at first seem foreign in their surroundings, but the way they’ve been generated as well as their irregularity and variation make them ‘closer to home’ in nature than in our existing built environment.
In the past, a high level of care was taken to create perfect forms, devoid of flaw or error.  In the present, industrialized production techniques create perfection without care.  The future, one hopes, will acknowledge beauty through intentional abnormality and imperfection, truly appreciating and understanding the value of ‘one of a kind’.

Daniel Gillen is the director of DGD. Students include Litong and  Liu Di.