Interview with designer Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng (JH), regarding views on design, and for the award-winning design Unream Voxel Printed Lamp.

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Interview with Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng at Tuesday 5th of May 2020: DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
JH : With this design, I hope to blur the line between the digital and physical world, bringing "impossible" materials to real-world product design. With the newest fabrication technology and computational power such as multi-material printing, 4D printing, soft robotics, we can embed information into three-dimensional matter (voxel), expanding binary material presence to dynamic material experience in everyday products.

DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
JH : A computational workflow that allows creating optical effect on any free-form surface.

DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
JH : This limited edition is available for sale. Please contact Designer Jiani Zeng at for more information. It will also be exhibited in some design exhibitions and conferences.

DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
JH : 3 months research on lenticular printing and voxel printing, 2 weeks on this particular form.

DI: Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
JH : Unream is one of the products designed with "illusory material": a new material organization that responds directly to the user intervention or the environment, creating 'dream-like' physical materials that used to exists only in the digital world. With illusory material, we envision a future where designers can manipulate the color, texture, and reflectivity of materials across time and different viewing angles; Imagine the future of color creation is not based on layers of chemical paints, but a combination with optical 3D printed optical lenses and simple color blocks; imagine a physical material can display dynamically by itself without electronic input; imagine an invisible object that is informative, a hard object that feels soft....Please visit our website for more details:

DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
JH : The copyright belongs to Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng, we will be selling it. However, it needs lots of manual processing and it's limited edition for now.

DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
JH : Our love for new tech and multi-material 3D printing. We are a team of an industrial designer, an architect, and researchers from MIT and Harvard.

DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
JH : Prof. Axel Kilian from MIT architecture, for pointing out and clarifying the research direction that I truly believe in and enjoy doing; for pushing me beyond my comfort field in industrial design, to think big and go deeper in design fundamentally; for all the in-depth, critical and honest feedback - always challenge me to push an idea further. Prof. Stefanie Mueller from MIT EECS, for all her inspiring work and conversations in HCI, digital fabrications and multi-material printing; for her great trust and freedom she gave me in exploring digital materials; for her openness and encouragement towards any student who has passion in personal fabrication and for being so generous in sharing her knowledge in the field of user interaction design.

DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
JH : Anyone who appreciates design with materials that cannot be seen from traditional production.

DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
JH : There is no similar design in the market so far, we invented the pipeline for "illusory material" to be applied in any 3D form.

DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
JH : Unreal+dream. We are not very good at naming....

DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
JH : Rhino, grasshopper, GrabCAD Print, Stratasys

DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
JH : The material and production - it can not be produced using any other machine other than Stratasys J750.

DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
JH : The design is done by Jiani Zeng and Honghao Deng, supervised by Prof. Axel Kilian and Stefanie Mueller.

DI: What is the role of technology in this particular design?
JH : This design is about technology: Multi-material 3D printing. We invented a computational workflow that allows every designer to play with CMF or even material properties that never existed before in the design process, creating dream-like material and apply them into real-world product design. This project is an envision of future design methodology using computation power with the most advanced 3D printing technology in the world: multi-material voxel printing.

DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
JH : The research is about 3D printing lenticular effect, more on digital fabrication and computation.

DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
JH : Structural textures are extremely hard to be applied on a free-form model using 3D printing. With our workflow, not only structural textures but also optical textures can be applied on any 3D surface. With Unream, we've developed a computational workflow that can assign different material properties to each voxel in multi-material printing.

DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
JH : We want our design and vision to have an impact on the designer society.

DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
JH : extensive research. keep exploring.