Instructor: Omar Khan
The Situated Technologies Spring studio will explore the space of manufacturing and the promise of mass customization. Stan Davis in his 1987 book Future Perfect coined the term “mass customizing” to describe the change in business perception from a mass market to a mass-customized market, where products could align more specifically with individual customer needs. The advent of digitization and CNC fabrication opened the possibility for producing multiple versions of a product at relatively little cost. This forecasted the notion that accommodating a customer’s individual desires may no longer be cost prohibitive.
When it comes to architectural design, mass customization has been translated through parametric design and digital fabrication as the iteration of multiple versions. The studio will challenge this presumption by taking a broader approach to mass customization and considering the technological, aesthetic and organizational effects it can have. We will use the terracotta industry as our model and explore the tools and technologies it uses in the manufacturing process. We will also explore the aesthetics of mass customization and how it challenges modernist aesthetics. And finally we will consider the factory as a design tool and how it can better serve design professionals.
If the “arch” was all the brick could respond to Louis Kahn, we will ask the terracotta industry a more complex question and see what the response will is. Perhaps it will surprise us and hopefully have us rethink our architecture.