Dutch Designers
Marlieke & Yao

3Dprint, a way of life or is modern manufacturing the future?

VormVrij manufactures products with a surprising mix of materials; from black melamine treated plywood to 3D printed ceramics. Their style is modern vintage but has a rugged artistic aura with a hint of melancholy.


Both Yao and Marlieke graduated at the end of last century from the renowned Design Academy in Eindhoven. While Marlieke, always interested in art and its intrinsic value for her Design process, worked at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, Yao started his Design studio together with a classmate from the academy.

In the early tens of this century they both switched their life style, moved to the Maghreb where they immersed themselves in Islamic culture and the daily business of adventure travel and tourism.

They eventually settled in West Africa and ran a non profit NGO to the benefit of children and women around Kumasi. Their projects, aimed at early childhood daycare and street youth prevention schemes, are still operating today.

By the end of 2012 they returned to the Netherlands and followed Marlieke’s roots to ‘s Hertogenbosch, a medium sized city in the central-southern part of the Netherlands between Eindhoven and Utrecht, known for its ceramics history and birthplace of artist Jeronimus Bosch.

VormVrij® | 3D naturally emerged from fused interests, the necessity for artistic freedom and the urge to use their decade of functional experience outside the direct area of Design and Art.

After 4 your of innovative research and production of the now wel known LUTUM clay printers they moved to their current location in Afferden. a small village in  the ‘maasduinen’ a historically rich area of pottery production.

The present.

With the changed landscape of human interaction in the western world and the methodical affection people have for digital expression, the Dutch society has morphed into an individualistic way of life. The lack of direct and natural human interaction due to contemporary social media has been filled with forced groups of people who are matched within digital communities and sometimes set out to form real world social groups acting like village dwellers. We talk about green, eco, friendly, and healthy living while constantly recording every move we make to show other tribes our ‘spiritual’ growth.

3D printing fits naturally in this complex new age where everybody needs a way to tailor his own life digitally. Printing these digital bits is a step towards a world where everything is connected and where digital meets material.

But the skills to transform thoughts into physical objects are not to be forgotten and require a steep learning curve most people are not willing to persue.

The transformation of mass production to home production, a recent hype and predicted to take over the world, is now moving into specialist fields of Medicare and technology giants like NASA, Boeing and car manufacturers. Aside from DIY (do it yourself) enthusiasts and tech savvy nerds, mainstream home 3dprinting is not yet living up to its expectation. Print materials are not as sustainable as reported. And the piles of waste plastic are slowly filling the rooms of early adopters.


VormVrij® | 3D developed a clay 3D printer to combat their own waste plastic issues. “We now produce with an immediately recyclable and locally obtained natural material. We print without loss. And our final products are durable. They can be used by our great grand children. If left to the elements they remain functional for 5000 years without any harm to our natural environment”.

One can see the obvious digital fingerprint in their products but they use this new technology to design products with a touch of history and robustness. And while progress is slow, the age of personal produced ceramics is emerging as more clay printers arise and small energy efficient ceramics ovens are developed.

The future of home manufacturing can transform the landscape of ceramics. And the most useful products have the simplest of forms. A bottle, cup, pot or plate all have similar base structures and can easily be crafted by unskilled people. Almost everyone can work with clay. It’s one of the oldest crafts of human history.

That legacy combined with the latest developments in 3D production techniques will have a profound impact and show our children the value of pottery while living the digital age.

VormVrij® | 3D will add to reshape the age of home ceramics.

09 sept 2014