Designer Cindy Jian uses ShopBot at TechShop SF

"3 for Life" on display

“3 for Life” on display

We first encountered Cindy Jian while attending the World Maker Faire in San Mateo in May of 2015. Or rather we first saw the “3 for Life” exhibition, an oversized furniture installation conceived by Marie Applegate and her team; Cindy was instrumental in the construction of this eye-catching set of furniture. The project encourages positive interactions through reminding adults of their inner child. “We want people to have the sensory experience of remembering what it felt like to be a 3 or 4 year old in an adult-sized world,” said Cindy.  The installation involves a large-scale table, 2 dining chairs, and fridge. Participants eagerly climbed onto the chairs to get to the top of the table, where there was an oversized cookie jar surprise waiting for them.

Cindy noted, “The project core team is: Michael Seo, Shaun Swanson, and Marie Applegate. I was happy to take part in fabricating, installing, and engaging participants around this piece. We created the pieces with traditional methods, cutting with panel saw and glue-gunning. My goal now is to use CNC to create large, outdoor public art. To this end I’m learning more about wood joinery techniques. I want to have this work on display where people of all ages can see what is possible with these new technologies, and get excited about making things for themselves.”

Cindy Jian

Cindy Jian

Born and raised in Guangzhou, China and Vancouver, B.C., and now living in San Francisco, Cindy earned her MA in Social Design from MICA, the Maryland Institute College of Art. “I took some classes in digital fabrication, but they were quick overview classes. I knew right away that I wanted to do more with CNC,” said Cindy.

Cindy is busy teaching woodshop classes at the Academy of Art and also is a Dream Consultant at TechShop SF; this involves being a shop technician and creative support for people who love to tinker. “I specialize in digital fabrication techniques including lasercutting, ShopBot and 3D Printing,” said Cindy. “What’s so cool about the TechShop environment is, that you can always learn from other users; it feels very collaborative and friendly.”

In recent months Cindy undertook a flat-pack furniture design assignment using the ShopBot CNC. “I was inspired by a friend’s need for a side table. I started to think about designing a piece that would be easy to assemble for the modern apartment dweller.” Cindy gave herself certain ground rules: “It needed to be interesting, no hardware needed, hand assembly, slot fit. I wanted it to go easily from flat-pack to 3D assembled.” With these parameters, Cindy set about designing and making the furniture.

Cindy designed the furniture in Illustrator. She imported her Illustrator designs into Rhino. Cindy noted that she learned how to use Vectorworks software at TechShop to gain an understanding of toolpathing. Cindy began by prototyping in cardboard, then moved on to plywood.

Cutting the pieces on the 96 x 48 ShopBot CNC

Cutting the pieces on the 96 x 48 ShopBot CNC

Slotted together

Slotted together

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Ta-da, square shaped!

Ta-da, square shaped!

finished 1

Flat packed...

Flat packed…

...and ready to deliver.

…and ready to deliver.

Cindy has made the plans available at Instructables, so you can make this furniture yourself. To learn more about Cindy and her work, visit her website. Learn more about TechShop SF here, and the full size ShopBot CNC tool here.

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