Skylar Tibbits, a TED Fellow, is an artist and computational architect working on "smart" components that can assemble themselves.

Why you should listen

Can we create objects that assemble themselves -- that zip together like a strand of DNA or that have the ability for transformation embedded into them? These are the questions that Skylar Tibbits investigates in his Self-Assembly Lab at MIT, a cross-disciplinary research space where designers, scientists and engineers come together to find ways for disordered parts to become ordered structures. 

A trained architect, designer and computer scientist, Tibbits teaches design studios at MIT’s Department of Architecture and co-teaches the seminar “How to Make (Almost) Anything” at MIT’s Media Lab. Before that, he worked at a number of design offices including Zaha Hadid Architects, Asymptote Architecture, SKIII Space Variations and Point b Design. His work has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum and the Beijing Biennale. 

Tibbits has collaborated with a number of influential people over the years, including Neil Gershenfeld and The Center for Bits and Atoms, Erik and Marty Demaine at MIT, Adam Bly at SEED Media Group and Marc Fornes of THEVERYMANY. In 2007, he and Marc Fornes co-curated Scriptedbypurpose, the first exhibition focused exclusively on scripted processes within design. Also in 2007, he founded SJET, a multifaceted practice and research platform for experimental computation and design. SJET crosses disciplines from architecture and design, fabrication, computer science and robotics.

What others say

"The big idea is to create objects that can change after they are printed, making them self-adapting. The act of printing is no longer the end of the creative process but merely a waypoint." — Wired UK

Skylar Tibbits’ TED talks

Skylar Tibbits on the TED Blog
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Technology

A very cool new video: A brief introduction to 4D printing

December 19, 2013

It’s not often that you see a designer throw their creation on the ground and break it to smithereens. But that’s exactly what TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits does in the video above. Why? Because he works in the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT. When the pieces break apart, they quickly re-assemble themselves, as if the film […]

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Design

The future unfolding: Fellows Friday with Skylar Tibbits

April 12, 2013

Skylar Tibbits makes things that assemble themselves, with potential large-scale applications from self-adjusting water pipes to self-assembling structures in space. At his recently founded Self-Assembly Lab at MIT, he’s pioneering 4D printing — using smart materials to make objects that change shape and evolve. Here, he explains how 4D printing works, and describes his journey from architect […]

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Quotes from Skylar Tibbits

There’s new possibilities for self-assembly, replication, repair in our physical structures, our buildings, machines. … Imagine if our buildings, our bridges, machines, all of our bricks could actually compute.
Skylar Tibbits
TED2011 • 706K views Sep 2011
Ingenious, Fascinating