#11 – Digging Into the 3-D Printing Revolution

Telling Stories with Dutch Designer Nieke Sybrandy


“The story of the bubble.” Dutch designer and artist Nienke Sybrandy links present to future and temporal to enduring through her work with soap and bubbles. Having launched Studio Sybrandy in 2006, Sybrandy plays with textile and object motifs, such as printing bubbles onto fabric and blowing bubbles onto ceramics.

Her collection of tableware “Surfactants” launched in 2014 with Jo Sijen, former head of the ceramic department at the Arts Academy in Maastricht, exemplifies her bubble-blowing technique. Sijen develops the molds for the ceramic supports and she blows colorful bubbles onto the ceramic shapes, adding artful designs. Upon completing a residency at Sundaymorning@ekwc in July 2015, Sybrandy spoke to ArchiExpo about the project.

ArchiExpo: Where did the technique for painting with soap bubbles initiate? 

Nienke Sybrandy: When I first said I wanted to paint with soap bubbles, everyone said, “Impossible.” But Jo Sijen said, “Let’s try.” It was a challenge because color pigments are quite heavy and oily, so I had to find a technique to make the different colored bubbles.

ArchiExpo: Can you talk tools and materials? 

Sybrandy: The tableware is made from porcelain. At our residency, we had access to a fab lab so we could make our own tools for blowing bubbles by 3-D printing them [More on Skills for 3-D Printing]. When we started the project a year ago, our tools came from toy shops. In addition to the table wears, we started making tiles and tableaux.

“We could make our own tools for blowing bubbles by 3-D printing them.”

ArchiExpo: Do you prefer working with fabrics or with solid supports? 

Sybrandy: I studied textiles, so working with fabrics feels the most familiar to me. I do a lot of weaving, for example. I have been using glow-in-the-dark yarn to put the image of the enlarged bubbles on a blanket, which makes them look like planets.

ArchiExpo: Does your choice of material also reflect the symbolism of transience shown by your motifs? 

Sybrandy: No, I choose the materials that will be the best quality for what they are. First I create the story, then I decide what it will be told on.

ArchiExpo: Any advice to young designers? 

Sybrandy: When I’m fascinated by something, I will start working to find out how it can be done. Work is the answer to the question.


About the Author

Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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