BIG DATA DESIGN - Strange but familiar

Cecilia Margareta

Tjärnberg

Poly-mesh form and point cloud space, process material

BIG DATA DESIGN - Strange but familiar

MFA thesis, 2019


Project description: How form translates as it moves between the physical and the digital has caught my interest. I collect data through different types of 3d scanning exploring a range of technologies. In the digital realm, the information captured presents itself as a messy abstraction to the original where some information is added while other is lost. Developing the material, I adopt complex content aware auto fill algorithms - a strategy that becomes essential for the project.  In my installation visitors can explore thresholds between the real and the virtual.



My firm belief is that the traces from the physical and digital wear and tear add value in that they unpack my process, birthing something strange while familiar.


Download the thesis here.

Supervisors; Einar Rodhe, Senior Lecturer, Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication (DIV).

Christian Björk, Visiting Lecturer, -


Examiners; Tor Lindstrand, Senior Lecturer, Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication (DIV).


Guest critic; Marcia Harvey Isaksson, Inredningsarkitekt MSA


Sponsors; Sundsvalls Kommun - Cultural Grant, SCA Östrands massafabrik - paper material, Kasthall - yarn


Selected tutors and collaborating partners; Palle Torsson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Fine Art. Gunnar Söder, Lecturer within the Department of Design at Konstfack. Alexander Wallin, a computer programmer, and musician. Rassmus Nossbring, Glass/Craft Artist.

Point cloud illustrations, laser scanning, 2019

Consciously utilizing BIG DATA as a part of the creative design process and automating certain design tasks is an important part of the evolution of contemporary digital design processes. These new digital tools invite us into a complex world of infinite and instant possibilities. The tools we use feed back into the things that we make. However, the traces made by the data-driven wear and tear leave us with surprisingly manifold qualities. The traces from the digital and the physical wear and tear left by these new technologies communicate important humanistic values which more often are distinguished in the crafts. This second digital turn in architecture makes way for a new design language - Strange but familiar.

Elephant, photogrammetry and powercarving/woodcarving, 2019

Visitors in the exhibition during the degree show, BIG DATA DESIGN - Strange but familiar, photo by Pauline Johansson, 2019


In the back you can see the bench I call Bench.

BIG DATA DESIGN strange but familiar is a thesis project where new technologies are used to explore the future of spatial design expression by exploring the possibilities of contemporary digital design processes. The focus is fixed on embracing the digital and physical wear and tear throughout the project. As the project comes to a full circle and a proposal in scale 1:1 has been built, questions about new materials, open source design, and not the least the relevance of architects are raised. In this landscape of physical spatial elements, you are invited to explore thresholds between the real and the virtual.


In naming the project from the perspective of a spatial designer I am referring to new methods of design relevant to the field and the term “big data” in general intending “The new tools helping us find relevant data and analyze its implications”. I collect data through different types of 3d scans exploring a range of technologies, from precise laser scanning to hacking a discontinued motion-sensing input device derived from the gaming industry. I am interested in how the form translates as it moves between the physical and the digital realm. In the digital realm, the information captured presents itself as a messy abstraction of the original where some data is added while other data is lost. Developing the material, I adopt complex content-aware auto-fill algorithms, a strategy that is essential for the project. This strategy is applied both in the digital and physical form. I have, during my work, been educating myself about how different alternative digital tools work and how these react to different kinds of information. I am using my insights to control certain processes and to automate selected tasks of my design process. I have explored a range of different mediums in which to materialize my designs, both digitally and physically. The result includes, amongst others, power carved wooden structures, large needle felted recycled polyester foam sculptures and collaborative workshops in glass blowing and computer programming. 


My firm belief is that the traces from the physical and digital wear and tear add value in that they unpack my process, birthing something Strange but familiar.

The Oyster Sofa, photogrammetry and powercarving/woodcarving, 2019

New Technologies and Spatial Design

an open seminare with invited guests


Guests: Einar Rodhe, Tor Lindstrand, Bella Rune, Palle Torsson, Gunnar söder and Ulrika Karlsson.


Organizer/Moderator: Cecilia Margareta Tjärnberg


Each participant was asked to select an image and to prepare a statement regarding something for them exiting and on the topic of new technologies and Spatial Design. The images was pinned on the wall and we gathered on the floor in the middle of my installation. Through sharing these insights an energetic discussion grew. Ulrika spoke to Palle and Bella about raking and suddenly Architecture, Fine Art and Textile found common ground. Students and visitors to the Degree Show listen closely to the one-hour long talk touching on everything from computer-generated plan drawings and hierarchies to machine learning and alternative materials.


This talk was unfortunally not recorded, never the less it is a part of my exmining work together with my writen MFA thesis. The written part is avalible at the diva-portal.


The value of collaboration throughout this project cannot be understated. It goes without saying that, when you open up and work with others your world gets instantly bigger. It is important for the field of spatial design to join this open source community. “Open source is expected to play a large role in the next big wave of evolution in the tech world. The future includes AI, machine learning, and big data analytics, which will not only make our systems smarter, but more valuable than ever”. Today, most of us that are new to working with digital design are relying on free software, however, through collaborating with computer programmers we could access open source software and start writing code consciously controlling and developing our digital tools. We know that the tools we use feed back into the things we make. During the project, I have become more familiar with the open source community through; youtube tutorials like the ones created by the coding train; and, Hackerspace Konstfack run by Palle Torsson, Senior Lecturer within the Department of Fine Art, and a contemporary artist working with videos, interactive works, live video games, and performance. I have learned to think about hacking in a broader sense. For example, innovative ideas are found when digital design and craft meet. In the spirit of open communication, I organized and moderated an open seminar on the theme of Spatial Design and New Technologies joined by a panel of current authorities in the fields of architecture and design, craft, technology, and robotics. One topic that became central during the seminar was our understanding of materiality; how we experience materiality; how our training in our specific craft affects how we work with different materials; and, how we can influence the materiality by influencing the tools that build it, digitally and physically. My conclusion is that this type of open think-tanks gives a brief but inspiring introduction to different fields in the creative community where the goal that these people in the future will work more closely together. I have started to build a network of contacts that I hope to keep in touch with throughout my career.

3D print, 10x10cm

Form study, lasercut paper dip dyed in Herts wood stain. Material sponsored by SCA Östrand, Timrå

A topic that has been central to the whole project is the idea of ​​our understanding of materiality. This second digital turn in architecture forces us who work within the field to review our understanding of materiality. Within the context of data-driven design and new technologies, we must review how we experience materiality, how the training in our specific craft affects how we work with different materialities and how we can influence the materiality by influencing the tools that build it digitally and physically.

Point Cloud in motion, Kinect+Processing collaboration

Artistic research - selected material 

MFA thesis BIG DATA DESIGN strange but familiar


Project review presentation, process

Laser scanning of open areas at Konstfack (left) Mixed media process material (below)

Hagia Sophia, Photogrammetry

Supervisors; Einar Rodhe, Senior Lecturer, Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication (DIV).

Christian Björk, Visiting Lecturer, -


Examiners; Tor Lindstrand, Senior Lecturer, Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, Department of Design, Interior Architecture and Visual Communication (DIV).


Guest critic; Marcia Harvey Isaksson, Inredningsarkitekt MSA


Sponsors; Sundsvalls Kommun - Cultural Grant, SCA Östrands massafabrik - paper material, Kasthall - yarn


Selected tutors and collaborating partners; Palle Torsson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Fine Art. Gunnar Söder, Lecturer within the Department of Design at Konstfack. Alexander Wallin, a computer programmer, and musician. Rassmus Nossbring, Glass/Craft Artist.



Cecilia Margareta Tjärnberg 2019 © copyright