The Edge: Michiel Cornelissen’s 3D Printed Happy Birds

March 26, 2013 4 min read

Michiel Cornelissen is an independent designer who "combines work for clients with the creation of his own range of products, such as jewelry, housewares, and electronics accessories." His work has been featured in Gizmodo, Wired, Designboom, Core77 and more. And the Museum of Modern Art in New York has even bought some of his products.

Michiel Cornelissen

Novedge: Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do

Michiel Cornelissen: I am a designer. Sometimes I design whatever pops into my mind and seems like a good idea, sometimes I help clients with products they’re working on. Sometimes the two meet halfway.

Novedge: On your website you mention learning in school and then while working for Philips Design. Can you talk about learning in school vs. learning on the job? What advice would you give to young people who want to follow in your footsteps?

Michiel Cornelissen:My education in Industrial Design Engineering at Delft Technical University was a very general one: I know very few people from my year that are actually still in design. Some are in engineering, or are project managers, or researchers, you name it. I came away from it with a general idea of how to approach almost any problem, but with very little classical design skills. I mean, I hardly knew what a fillet was, let alone how big I should choose it in any give project. Fate somehow placed me in Philips Design, where I met all these "real" designers, from all kinds of backgrounds and often with wonderful insights in how to create and detail designs. So yes, it feels like a post-doc education to me. Something similar is happening now since entering the 3D-printing community;  a whole world is opening up to me. It’s just great to be able to keep on learning and growing in your profession.

The Wrap by Michiel Cornelissen

Novedge: What is a recent project that you worked on?

Michiel Cornelissen:The dilemma is always that there’s so much I can’t talk about yet, as much as I’d love to. Just recently a health care product I worked on was introduced in Asia, which I’m very happy with (unfortunately, I don’t have good images of that yet).

Mesh Matryoshkas by Michiel Cornelissen

Of course the Mesh Matryoshkas were introduced in the beginning of the year and I’m really happy with Zesch too, although manufacturing it in larger quantities is a challenge.

Zesch by Michiel Cornelissen 01

Zesch by Michiel Cornelissen 02

Novedge: What software do you use?

Michiel Cornelissen:When it comes to designing, I do almost everything in Rhino. I started using it when 1.0 was still in beta, and I still haven’t found a compelling reason to switch to something else. I still think it’s a Godsend, I’m not even sure I would still be in design if it wasn’t for Rhino…  And since about a year, I’m exploring the Grasshopper plug for generative modeling in Rhino – that’s the future! Both Zesch and the Mesh Matryoshkas were almost completely defined in it. I’m not saying it’s the only way, but I might have given both projects up without Grasshopper. For rendering, I now love Keyshot – it’s just so much fun, and the results can be great. Oh – and don’t forget pen and paper! I don’t see myself scribbling on tablets anytime soon, I love the simplicity of a white sheet of paper and a nice fat Pentel sign pen.

Pencil Bowl by Michiel Cornelissen 02

Pencil Bowl by Michiel Cornelissen 01

Pencil Bowl by Michiel Cornelissen 03

Novedge: You have embraced 3D printing. What are some of the benefits and challenges of using this technology?

Michiel Cornelissen:One of the main benefits of 3D printing is that anyone with some modeling skills and an idea can make a product available anywhere in the world. One of the main challenges of 3D printing is that anyone with some modeling skills and an idea can make a product available anywhere in the world… What I mean is, that there is an inevitable explosion of 3D printed content in the works, and one of the difficulties will be to find the few useful, qualitative items in that outburst. Other than that, I’m still intrigued by the geometric possibilities that are opening up through 3d-printing, some of which I’ve tried to highlight in products such as Happy and Merry Bird, The ExChange collection and the Mesh Matryoshkas.

Merry Bird by Michiel Cornelissen
The Exchange Collection by Michiel Cornelissen 02

The Exchange Collection by Michiel Cornelissen 01

Novedge: What's in the future for you?

Michiel Cornelissen:I really enjoy working with clients, also when it has nothing to do with 3D-printing, by the way. That’s some of that stuff I can’t talk about… Just recently, I visited a manufacturing facility in Switzerland where men and women were creating beautiful items from wood and metal and other materials, in ways that haven’t changed much over 100 years. It was awe-inspiring, and it’s one of the things I sincerely hope won’t disappear with developments such as globalization and 3d-printing. Crossing my fingers that the project I’m planning with them will happen!


You can learn more about Michiel's work on his website. And don't forget to follow him on Twitter!

To buy Rhino and Keyshot, visit Novedge. And send us your questions and feedback in 140 characters or less at @Novedge. Grasshopper can be downloaded here.

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