Are Street Vendors That 3D Print On The Fly In Our Future?

<p>Belgian design studio presents a mobile street stall able to materialize virtually any item you desire.</p>

Already this year we’ve witnessed impassioned debates regarding censorship and the government’s attempt to seize control over creativity and copyright on the internet. Thanks to a vehement public outcry last Wednesday, January 18th, the proposed bills SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) have since been dropped by Congress. But the controversial conversation regarding the future of creative material, the internet and copyright usage is far from over.

As new technologies continue to bring us new possibilities for creation and distribution, it’s only going to become easier to replicate and fabricate virtually any object you desire. For example, Kiosk from Belgian design studio Unfold (inspired by Bruce Sterling’s short story of the same name) foresees a future where digital technology is so ordinary and affordable that it’s readily available on the streets, offering a variety of, well, pirate services. Kind of sounds like the rampant knock-off culture of “shanzhai” that’s found in China’s overcrowded city streets.

But forget about DVDs or knockoff designer bags, we're talking about a mobile stall so advanced that it’s capable of producing 3D objects from their pictures, as casually and quickly as picking up a hot dog from a street food vendor. Unfold imagines it as "a place where you can quickly get a custom made fix for your broken shoe or materialize an illegal download of Starck's Juicy Salif orange squeezer that you modified for better performance or quickly print out a present for your sister’s birthday."

Check out Kiosk’s setup:

Unfold’s intention is to challenge our perception about originality and authorship when faced with the ability to transform and appropriate objects at leisure, without control or approval from the original designer. Let’s just hope the prototype fuels imagination and creativity, and doesn’t contribute to the looming copyright controversy.

Kiosk was exhibited for the first time during Milan Design Week in April 2011. Images courtesy of Unfold.