Artist and designer Aki Inomata has fused her love of architecture with 3d printing technology to create a gorgeous set of crystalline shelters for hermit crabs. The artist investigates the notion of national displacement by giving the grabs a chance to move from their shell-homes into her man-made architectural wonders. Inomata uses CT scans and 3D printing to create transparent shells modeled after New York City, flowers, Parisian apartments and Tokyo skyscrapers for the crabs to pick and choose as their new abodes.
Inomata starting thinking about the transitory habits of hermit crabs and their shells when the French Embassy moved in Tokyo and its land transitioned from French to Japanese ownership and then back again. Since hermit crabs often switch shells (and they can go back to a shell chosen earlier in life), the artist compared the two issues. She used 3D printing technology to design crystalline shells inspired by architecture to illustrate the concept.
First, Inomata CT scanned unoccupied shells abandoned by the hermit crabs to gain insight in their interior shape. The files were then manipulated with 3D modeling software, and combined with architectural shapes, including Tokyo-style buildings, French apartments, casinos and even delicate flowers. The designs were 3D printed in clear plastic to lend them a jewel-like aesthetic that displays the colors of the crabs inside. The hermit crabs were then presented with the plastic shells, and they could choose their own homes.