Furniture is Sculpture – Using 3-D Printing in Design

The final step and finished product.

I’ve been using 3-D printing when designing furniture for some time now. When I first began, it was considered fairly cutting edge and not too many in the industry were taking the risk. However, I’ve always been a little bit of a risk taker so when the opportunity to give 3-D printing in design presented itself back in 2014, I said “sign me up”!

Since that time, I’ve come to realize and understand the practicality of this process for both me, as the designer, and the client. 3-D in design allows the client to fully conceptualize the design of a custom piece of furniture from all aspects. Even the best quality rendering cannot provide the full effect of a custom piece.

As I make more and more use of 3-D in my furniture design, I’m learning that this technique is being used on large scale architectural projects. It’s an incredible way to create and present. In this video I talk about a specific sofa design that 3-D printing allowed me to do just that.

Because of 3-D printing I now see and present furniture as a form of sculpture. Here is a depiction of how I use 3-D printing for this wonderful curved-armed sofa.

Here’s How It’s Done

Sofa Rough Sketch
I start by drawing a rough sketch with dimensions. The arm slopes downward which was difficult to convey in my rough sketch.
Sofa 3D Draft
My draftsperson interprets my rough drawing. In this stage I can maneuver the drawing in a program called MeshLab so I can see the sofa at all angles.
3D Photo Prep Rendering
Once I finalize all aspects of the sofa, it is then put into the 3-D printing program. This step is complicated by the fact that the drawing is created from the inside out, using a completely different methodology.
Three dimensional sofa prep.
And voila! My first 3-D printed object. This is about 8 inches long. I took this to my upholsterer’s framer and said: build this! The arms were complicated to explain and this model did that perfectly.


Safa Frame Raw
Here’s the frame raw. I was able to further draw – right onto the frame – a tweak to the arm curve. There’s still nothing like seeing the real thing.
Sofa cover over frame
The next step is to cover the frame in foam with hand-tied and worked springs and webbing. At this stage I brought in the client for a sit test; if we want to make the seat softer or firmer, or the back slightly different in pitch, this is the time to do that.
The final step and finished product.
The Finished Sofa!