During Anton Alvarez’s first year at college, the Swedish-Chilean designer set out on a self-directed period of trial, error, and documentation he dubbed 120x120—120 days of creative research coupled with 120 photographs that followed his progress. “When I started, I didn’t have any goal or plan,” he tells Co.Design. The result is a log of iterative concepts revolving around how to join pieces together, showing the unique evolution of an individual’s ideas. In the end, the momentum was overwhelming, and Alvarez wanted a way to keep his flow going. “The decision to make the thread-wrapping machine was to enable me to continue but in a different way—the tool was like something that sums all the experiments together.” The nifty contraption securely joins component parts without the use of hardware.
After testing out an initial hand-held version, he developed a larger second model, which he then adjusted to the current incarnation, and it’s a pretty remarkable feat of engineering. When the machine starts spinning, fibers from one of eight thread-cones travels into a thread tensioner, then gets coated with cheap, strong, PVA glue when the actual wrapping takes place.
It’s flat-out fascinating to watch the colorful filaments build up as a functional object emerges between the hands of the makers, and Alvarez himself is still figuring out how to harness the thread-wrapper’s potential. “At first I was not doing furniture; I was trying to freely work with the new tool and see what was possible with it,” he says. “There are many different tricks that I am starting to learn, and am constantly developing my skills in this craft.” As far as its future, Alvarez hopes go test new limits and dabble in an even more ambitious field. “Eventually, I will grow out of the machine and make a new one that is more appropriate for the next step—architecture.”