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Charged: Isaïe Bloch
Last year's 3D Print Show Artist of the Year revolutionizes art and architecture
by David Graver
on 10 March 2014

At the most recent 3D Printshow in London, artist and architect Isaïe Bloch took top honors as Artist of the Year with his work "Satire." The intricate sculpture is just one of many that illuminates his multidisciplinary mastery, magnetizing vision and critical acclaim. Bloch's company and atelier Ergatory, formed in 2008, produces a dizzying range of visionary works, everything from radical architectural concepts to skeletonized home goods—all with a focus on 3D printing and creative fabrication. Bloch, Belgium-born but based in the UK, also happens to have a masters degree in experimental architecture and a second from the prestigious postgraduate program Excessive, lead by Hernan Diaz Alonso, at Die Angewandte, in Vienna, Austria.

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Bloch defines his ongoing design research and exploration of materials as, "the correlation between craftsmanship and additive manufacturing within several creative domains, including architecture, fashion and plastic arts." A pioneer at the forefront of the 3D revolution, he recognizes that it's an altogether new medium with an entirely new set of geometric capacities. According to Bloch, none of his work can be created or replicated outside the world of 3D printing. Whether they're sculptures or housewares or reimagined public structures, the through line to all of Bloch's creations is hyperrealism.

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While he acknowledges that his tools are ever-changing and the medium always shifting, Bloch prefers to be considered an artist drawing inspiration from the past rather than a technologist. With "Satire," he suggests the work falls in line with the long tradition of figurative sculpture that came before. Although not technically achievable by way of any traditional artistic methods, it clearly harkens back to Greco-Roman busts. Bloch describes the piece as "more perfect" than the works that inspired it due to its precision, yet the evidence of his own artistic hand outweighs the advanced technology that was called on for production. It is Bloch's vision, his interpretation, on display more so than any technology.

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Most recently, Bloch's "Karosta [Kube]"— created in collaboration with Gilles Retsin—won second prize in an architectural competition from the Liepāja City Council in Latvia. A series of renderings outline a futuristic public building set in Karosta, a former military town in the south-west part of the Baltic country. The visuals depict a world almost only imaginable to a science fiction writer, employing custom-made prefabricated concrete paneling mounted on fibrous steel framing. The ensuing cubic structure is rotated around its central axis. For further strength and ornamentation, thin, yellow copper coated rebar concludes the work. It's been designed to avoid fenestration and complement its surroundings, but really it's an unprecedented exploration of design, material and the future.

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A brief survey of Bloch's other notable works offers further insight into the artist's unmatched vision. 3D printed from 18K gold, "Cutlery Set" carries as much elegance as it does whimsy—the curves defining the set are both aesthetically pleasing and functional forms. "Chroma Vases" are a 3D-printed amalgamation of a SLS polyamide inner wireframe structure, MDF, PUR, polester putty, and nackre varnish. Once more, chaos matches thoughtful design and the resulting work is both unique and useful. Bloch explains that "these vases/milk jugs deliberately revolve around a certain degree of ornamental saturation which can endure the possibility of a loss in detailing or uneven distribution of the glaze while keeping its precise aesthetic." With "Smudge," a bone-like wall mounted shelf, the artist takes his easily recognizable style and demonstrates the structural integrity of his materials and process. All three of these recent works, which Bloch states are among his favorites, form an integral part of the designer's signature, while also conveying the sheer scope of his imagination. Between technological advances and further collaboration, there's guaranteed to be many more wondrous works in his future.

You can explore more of Bloch's work through his online shop, where many of his houseware items are sold.

Images courtesy of Isaïe Bloch

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