Aki Inomata makes beautiful 3D printed tiny homes… for crabs

Hermit crabs are born without shells, so they have to keep finding new seashells to cover themselves. Aki Inomata, a Japanese artist, is providing a new solution/art project: 3D printed plastic tiny homes.

As Fast Company reports, she’s inspired both by nature and real life architecture. First she creates scans of shells, and then she edits them on her computer into shapes that reflect cityscapes or specific building styles. She’s been doing this for six years, but has just started making shells inspired by Christian wedding chapels, which have become increasingly popular in Japan despite only 1% of the population being Christian.

And she’s not just some quirky hipster: the point of her work is to provoke people to think about immigration, what ‘home’ means, and other meanings buildings can have. In the case of the wedding chapels, she says, ‘I ask myself, ‘Are we Japanese living in a mimicry of the Western world?’’

But as thoughtfully-designed and pretty as her structures may be, the crabs are apparently not always fans: Inomata says they abandon them in the majority of cases, although a few have embraced them. That’s good news, considering this could actually be the future of housing for hermit crabs. People taking shells from beaches is making it harder for them to find places to live, so 3D printed homes might end up becoming their only available option.

Image via Aki Inomata.

Diane Shipley