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Students of School of Form Design Hand in Hand with KUKA Robots

Students of School of Form Design Hand in Hand with KUKA Robots

For ages, intricate designs have been associated with craftsmanship, produced by human hands using specialized tools. Nowadays, toolboxes of artists and designers have been expanded to include robots that can often produce objects with greater precision than humans have ever been able to. Students from SWPS University’s School of Form in Warsaw also have an opportunity to learn intelligent machine programming and work with KUKA industrial robots. The robots allow them to realize design ideas that would be difficult to make using traditional techniques. It is a beautiful human-machine collaboration.

Traditional Crafts and Latest Technologies

The program of School of Form is rooted in a teaching approach that combines practical knowledge and skills with a humanistic approach to design. The Industrial Design program exemplifies this unorthodox approach to teaching by focusing on processes and technologies used in mass production, while it maintains the analogue, craft-like character of the created objects.

Students of Industrial Design employ KUKA robots to complete numerous tasks and projects, from simple drawing and calligraphy to basket weaving, making ceramics, and shaping sheets of metal. Working with robots allows students to produce objects with a high degree of precision, which is impossible to achieve by hand. For example, using the robot, students can make delicate, paper-thin clay dishes or even produce a body of a car as part of a class project.

“The future belongs to designers who will be able to translate unique processes into technological ones, in a way that maintains their uniqueness, not to those who can weave baskets, although I do hope that this skill never dies out. Working with a tool such as KUKA provides designers with a very universal education, because it teaches them to focus on the process, rather than on a certain tool”, says Dr. Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka, Program Director of School of Form.

For English subtitles click the Settings icon, in the bottom right corner of the video screen.


Working Hand in Hand with Robots

KUKA robots are controlled by a computer code generated using Grasshopper, a visual programming language, which translates visual modules into algorithms that are fed to a robot.

“The majority of projects that have been created at School of Form, so far can be classified as arts and crafts”, says Sara Boś, Head of the KUKA and Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Workshop. “Usually, the reality is that this does not translate exactly in the same way. The Ergonomics and anatomy of a robot are completely different than that of a human being. We try to develop trajectories that would be simple for a robot, but at the same time impossible or difficult to do for a human being. A very good example of such a task is drawing an ideally straight line.”

The latest projects of Industrial Design students, completed in collaboration with the KUKA robot, include clay bowls and embossed sheet metal objects. The embossed shapes were produced for allotment owners as part of the Projekt Działka (An Allotment Project) initiative.

The bowls were made at the Ceramics Studio of School of Form. To achieve the desired thickness and shape, students used rubber balloons, which were then dipped in clay by the robot. Once the clay was dry, the air was let out of the balloons. In this process, a team of people and robots made unique, paper-thin, dishes.

Read more about KUKA robots »

School of Form - University Education for Creative People

The philosophy of SWPS University’s School of Form revolves around human-centered design that strives to understand people and meet their needs. The School creates conditions for students to grow as individuals and as team members. Future designers have access to excellent infrastructure and environment, which is conducive to a free flow of information, including exchange of original ideas and transfer of creative solutions to the world of business. School of Form has been recognized by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education as one of the best design programs of study in Poland.


Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka

Agnieszka Jacobson-Cielecka, Ph.D. – is the Artistic Director and co-author of SWPS University's School of Form program. She is active in several art-related fields. As a curator, she develops and organizes exhibitions and various art programs. As a journalist and art critic, she writes about design and comments on various phenomena and observes trends. She is a renowned promoter of young designers from Poland and other countries around the world. She is interested in design as a discipline striding both culture and economy. She is a member of program committees and juries of many Polish and international festivals, such as Gdynia Design Days and Designblok as well as a member of advisory bodies of various institutions, including the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the National Museum in Warsaw, and the Regional Museum in Stalowa Wola. Full bio »

Sara Boś

Sara Boś – is the Head of the KUKA and CNC Machine Workshop at School of Form. Sara graduated from School of Form with a diploma in Industrial Design. She has gained professional experience at Oskar Zięta Studio. Her designs were exhibited at Dutch Design Week, Łodź Design Festival, and Gdynia Design Days. At School of Form she holds the position of the Head of the Robotics and Digital Workshop and she teaches students of the Industrial Design program.

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