Featuring an elaborate system of individually designed joints and hinges, Italian design firm Carlo Ratti’s lightweight Swish stool can quickly snap into complex configurations.

 

The project stems from a patented system by Carlo Ratti Associati based on the concept of “implicit programming” – using digital fabrication to create objects that are pre-programmed to take different shapes.

Swish is made of 27 thin, rounded wooden elements - milled on a CNC - interlocked through a system of individually designed junctions and hinges, each different from the next. As a result, the stool can take different configurations, in a way that Carlo Ratti says would not be possible with traditional fabrication methods.

“Swish has been the culmination of a very exciting research path for us,” says Carlo Ratti, professor at MIT in Boston and a founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati. “How can we use mathematically controlled geometry to ‘teach’ a given material how to behave? Swish is the first implementation of such principle to a very basic piece of furniture: a stool.”

Three cherry versions of the stool, and one elm, were shown during Milan design week.