top of page



Working on Objet Portrait: Dune (4)

In this series, we shed a light on the development of a few products of the Objet Portrait project by Roel Vandebeek. How do these products come to life, how long did it take and what were the design hurdles we had to take?

For this post we will rest our eyes on another art object: Dune.

Dune is a tactile sculpture, made to tread on with your bare feet. The twigs used to weave this carpet-like object originate from the willow tree. This warm material is flexible at first, but hardens into a strong surface over time.

The purpose of this object is to provide its user with a personal space where he can get away from everything. Only a single user may lie on it: the entire edge of the circle-shaped carpet acts as a border.

While the main shape looks simple in the render above, a lot of thought went into it. This design went through a lot of revisions during the design process due to the difficulty experienced during the attempts of actually manufacturing it.

While most finished products very much resembles the first sketches they evolve from, this one was quite different.

Dune came into existence as a circular lounge chair. Something you could sit on or put your back against. The first design was completely symmetric.

The biggest problem that became obvious quite soon was its size. It started out twice the size of the final design.

A small concept model of the lounge chair, made with electrical wires.

Another difficulty was translating this design into a 3D model to work on, as my design work has taught me meanwhile that I had to be able to make several changes on the fly. I used Moments of Inspiration to come up with the intial 3D model, to be able to make continuous small adjustments and to extract 2D sectional drawings. These 2D curves could then be used to transfer the 3D into a real life model.

Needless to say, I made a ton of 3D drawings, refining the shape, trying it out in real life - with cardboard - all the while revisiting the digital 3D file. We tried resizing it, making it more elongated, stepping back from symmetry, scaling it, ... you name it. I even made a small 3D print.

Nothing worked. It didn't make a good connection, a click in the mind. We let it cook for a while, hoping someday we'd find a good solution.

A few months later, Roel took it up again. There was not much time left to finish this design. It had to go into production. We needed to come up with a solution.

In looking back at the at his first sketches, we started to wonder: instead of a lounge seat, why not turn it into a regular seat. Or into a mere support in the back when you're lying down, into a kind of bump or hill. Something simple, nothing too complicated.

This is part of a second batch of sketches, which illustrates how much the design differs from the first one, without breaking the initial concept. Sketches by Roel Vandebeek.

The above concept sketch is what finally came into being.

Because we didn't have much time left, I blocked out some rough and quick shapes of the sketches in Modo10. The manufacturer would be able to use our 3D model to extract the curves for the metal frame that needed to be built to support the woven structure.

Because Modo is a faster program to work with than Moments of Inspiriation, the former using subdivisions instead of NURBS, changes on the fly are easier to make - be it at the loss of some accuracy. As this design required the right look and feel more than exact measurements, so down to the millimetre sizing was not necessary.

Moreover it enabled me to export this subdivision model into a nurbs 3D model, in that way still helping out the manufacturer to do the job.

The final 3D model above is the final design and was eventueally and in due time transformed into a real, one of a kind personal living space.


In this series, we shed a light on the development of a few products of the Objet Portrait project by Roel Vandebeek. How do these products come to life, how long does it take and what are the design hurdles we had to take?

This was the last part of the series. Check the other parts:

Part 02: Drip Drop

Search By Tags
bottom of page