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Keynote by Claire Warnier

Atlas of Lost Finds

Published onJul 09, 2024
Keynote by Claire Warnier

Design Studio Unfold, co-founded in 2002 by Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen, aims to combine historical and artisanal know-how with 3D-printing technologies, and in the process, they blur the role of the designer, author, producer, and consumer. In 2017, Unfold was awarded Designer of the Year, for their “search of innovation in 3D technologies, without losing the human aspect” (quoted from the jury).

We invited Claire Warnier to give a keynote address at iPRES2024, to share what they learned on their journey. One of their key projects started after a devastating fire at the Museu Nacional in Rio de Janeiro that destroyed 90% of its 20 million artifacts. Many people across the world can still recall the horrible news images.

The Atlas of Lost Finds project has re-materialised some of the lost artifacts from available 3D scans. Locating these scans in museums around the world and refining the ceramic 3D-printing technologies was the first step. Only when the team started combining modern technology with the knowledge, techniques, and materials of traditional craftsmen, did the reproduced artifacts start to gain a new meaning. Learning more about this project will trigger critical reflections about the roles and functions of digital heritage, e.g. about the nature of digital content, open source software and hardware, ownership, and repatriation of heritage.

“This project has proven two things: that digital technology is a unifying force and takes people to new places, and that it is possible to use digital data in a meaningful way to create new items and reframe history from a ‘decolonized’ point of view.”
(Re)discovering history with Unfold - WBDM 2022 

A Combmaker’s Tale explores a similar concept and asks: can robotics and 3D technology help preserve human craftmanship? The movie tells the story of Antun Penezić, the last artisanal combmaker of Croatia. Without an apprentice, his experience, skills and know-how would not be passed on to the next generation. Yet, by training a robot to mimick every movement involved in combmaking, Antun is transferring his skills, but is the robot also becoming an apprentice?

Written and Directed by Unfold and Alexandre Humbert, 2020

The work of Unfold has been presented by Design Museum London, Museum of Arts and Design New York, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, and others. Moreover, their work has been featured in the New York Times, Journal of Modern Craft, International Herald Tribune and more.  You can also find Claire and Dries in a mentorship role at the Design Academy Eindhoven (where they graduated) and they have held positions at LUCA School of Arts and Colorado State University. Claire obtained a Master of Arts from Ghent University in 2008.

Conference Special: Studio Visit at Unfold (Antwerp)

Dive deeper into the projects of Keynote Speaker Claire Warnier and visit Design Studio Unfold on Friday Sept 20th.

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