Fluid Forms uses satellite imagery to manufacture unique artwork based on landscape and location

The company

Fluid Forms was founded by Hannes Walter and Stephen Williams in 2005. At the time, they started from a first prototype of a digitally-produced object – a vase – developed in the Science Park in Graz (Austria). In 2008, the company moved offices to a studio in the creative district of Lend. Today, the two-man company sells many variations of personalised, digitally-produced objects online, worldwide, with 80% of sales going to the US market.

The challenge

Since the beginnings of the company, its founders realised that the “design-your-own” movement on the Internet, creative-coding, as well as digital production methods such as 3D printers, would dramatically change the way goods are designed, produced and made available to the market. The challenge they set for themselves was to develop new product design tools to enable customers to create more functional and more personal goods.

The satellite solution

Thanks to Open Street Map API, Google Maps, the topographic data made available by NASA, and a software system developed by Fluid Forms, customers can simply enter the name of their desired location and choose the exact detail of landscape they want to be featured on their object. Within seconds, the distinctive landscape turns into a 3D preview of the object (jewellery, vases, lampshades, etc). The flowing appearance of the landscape reliefs is finally worked out in the desired material (gold, silver, wood…). For customers to be able to compare the generated object with the real landscape, the order is delivered with a printed satellite image of the selected area. Customers can also personalise their objects (clocks, earrings, necklaces) with the street patterns of their favourite cities.         

The result

Both the free satellite images used and the Open Street Map data powering this software make it possible for Fluid Forms to constantly launch and export new product design tools and variants of their objects in many different materials. Producing on demand permits the company not have any over production and extra stocks to handle, thus avoiding extra costs. The market success of these products, especially in the US, has enabled Fluid Forms to now open physical shops to complement their online offer.

 “We have learnt how to do a lot with what is already out there freely available, and this has greatly helped us achieve commercial success in our country and abroad.” Hannes Walter, Owner, Fluid Forms