Stack by Mugi Yamamoto


9 July 2013

The Swiss-Japanese designer Mugi Yamamoto has created a new type of printer. Placed on the top of a stack of paper, the printer sucks up the sheets and spits them out on top. "It moves downwards and eats up the paper pile,” says Yamamoto.

Yamamoto recently won the Audience Award in Hyères for his contribution to the 10 Designers competition at Design Parade 8. Yet Stack, Yamamoto's most ambitious project, was not presented during the competition. Instead, Stack was the diploma project with which he graduated from Lausanne's ECAL school in June.

Stack is a portable ink jet printer. Placed on a freestanding stack of paper, it pulls sheets up into its mechanism (by means of the friction created by a rubber wheel revolving against the paper), prints them and then deposits them on top. As it prints more pages and spits them out, the printer gives the impression of slowly descending the paper stack. "By removing the paper tray the bulkiest element is eliminated, the result is that the final dimensions are much smaller than an ordinary printer, it’s only 5cm thick,” says Yamamoto.

Yamamoto’s intention was to create an electronic device that would not eventually become obsolete. “I had to consider: what electronic devise would still be here in the future? People are using tablets more and more; keyboards and computer mouses and all this stuff will be unnecessary. But printers will always be necessary, even if people don’t really use computers any more.”

The printer remains in the prototype stage and is based on elements from small mobile printers. “This is a printer for people who don’t have much room but still want to print larger quantities,” says Yamamoto. “Someone printing their final thesis, for example; they can simply print the pile and then stick the printer back in the draw.”

Beyond addressing the merely practical element, Yamamoto embraced the visual, and performative nature of the piece. “Printers are objects that rarely come up in proposals from designers. But this is an ugly element that everyone has on their desk. I wanted to do something about it,” says Yamamoto. “Offices which are exposed with big windows to the street don’t want to stick a boring printer there, this is far more interesting.”

Yamamoto is currently searching for a company to collaborate with. “The concept and idea is complete but to really commercialise it there are a few refinements that are necessary,” says Yamamoto. “For example, the wheel that sweeps up the paper needs to be absolutely perfected.”

Yamamoto created two prototypes for the final presentation of his diploma project; one modified functioning printer, and a smaller thermoformed polyethylene one demonstrating the final dimensions. The interior is made up of laser cut pieces and the 3D printed buttons are lit from behind.

Beyond a few technical refinements Yamamoto intends to bring down the project’s price. “It’s currently based on the interior parts of an existing mobile printer which is very expensive because it’s so small. I actually have a bit more room than that one so I think by choosing the right components I can really lower the price.”