Among the new technologies currently employed in art, fashion and design, 3D printing is definitely the one that has been generating more interest, offering an entirely new tool to make things with complex shapes and structures with innovative materials. A new exhibition at London's Fashion Space Gallery explores 3D printing and its developing role as a tool for design.
Curated by Leanne Wierzba and Gemma Williams, in consultation with the Fashion Digital Studio at London College of Fashion and with saint H, the showcase is the first of a two part series looking at digital print in fashion.
Pioneers such as Janne Kyttänen in design and Iris Van Herpen in fashion paved the way for more experiments in an intriguing 3D printed world: Kimberly Ovitz launching her own range of 3D printed jewellery on Shapeways available to buy immediately after showcasing it on her Fall 2013 runway in New York, and Dita von Teese donning a 3D printed dress by Michael Schmidt generated by architect Francis Bitonti were among the highlights of the 3D printed news in the last few months.
The Layer By Layer showcase will allow visitors to see some of the best designs around and also get some insights about what the future of this technology may offer us.
The event will indeed feature a variety of objects and accessories: from Victoria Spruce's footwear combining traditional techniques with new technologies to Ron Arad's new range of 3D printed eyewear that incorporates laser sintered nylon in the flexible arms to eliminate the need of metal hinge components and Daniel Widrig's laser-sintered polyamide jewellery.
3D printing also allows to merge together disciplines such as science, architecture and product design and projects developed by people with different backgrounds - such as (fashion designer) Marieka Ratsma and (architect) Kostika Spaho's "Biomimicry" shoe ingeniously inspired by natural forms and in particular by a bird's skull, and (fashion designer) Naim Josefi and (industrial designer) Souzan Youssouf's "Melonia" shoes - will also be included.
Since the event is organised with the support of the Fashion Digital Studio at London College of Fashion Fashion, technologically advanced designs by LCF graduates will have their space: visitors with an interest in 3D printing and architecture/interior design will enjoy Marla Marchant's woven high heels inspired by tensile structures like suspension bridges, Liz Ciokajlo's footwear that combines industrial non-woven fibres and binders employed for furniture and product design to push the limits of 3D printing, and the world's first fully wearable 3D printed shoes by designer and product developer Hoon Chung who is currently researching into new techniques for footwear manufacturing.
Prototypes will prompt visitors to imagine the objects that will be created in a not-so-distant future: Silvia Weidenbach employs haptic technology in her jewellery combining 3D modelling with hand-making, while Julia Gaimster and Enrique Ramos are developing a research project to create jewellery with parametric modelling using programmes such as Grasshopper (see first image in this post).
Footage of Iris Van Herpen's 3D printed couture creations, photographic prints of Marloes ten Bhömer's footwear using rapid prototyping and a library of materials provided by Shapeways complete the event that will also allow visitors to see 3D printing in action thanks to a Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer creating objects that will then be put on display.
Fashion Space Gallery curator Gemma Williams stated in a press release about the event, "It's a snapshot of the 3D printing industry as it stands currently, it will also be fascinating to observe how the technology evolves over the next 10 years."
What's the most important thing you learnt from your years at the London College of Fashion?
Hoon Chung: I have completed my BA and MA in footwear at LFC and the most important thing I have learnt there is to always challenge invisible things.
Who has been the greatest influence on your career choices?
Hoon Chung: Dai Rees, Philip Delamore and Peter Hill - people who made me look at things from a wider perspective and always prompted me to get on and jump to the next stage.
Who or what inspires you?
Hoon Chung: I'm influenced by every moment, good design and nice products. I also like all those designers who inject a sense of beauty into their work.
What inspired your 3D printed shoes?
Hoon Chung: Throughout the years I gained a lot of experience for what regards the footwear industry, mastering traditional footwear design. Yet commercial footwear is not really attractive to me and even while I was doing my BA I felt I wanted to focus on innovative designs. So I decided to develop during my MA other aspects that could allow me to achieve what I had dreamt for a long time. I eventually managed to create the world's first fully wearable 3D shoes and that was also possible thanks to the support of LCF's Fashion Digital Studio.
Did you find any stages of making the shoes difficult or challenging?
Hoon Chung: Every step was difficult as I created my own methodology and explored new ways of making shoes. It was also hard to find the sponsor to get the flexible rubbery material I wanted to use since it isn't available on the market.
The shoes seem to be characterised by very clean and pure lines - did you take inspiration from architecture to create them?
Hoon Chung: Yes I did. I've always been interested in architecture as well, and I'm fascinated by constructive and total art. Yet I do have my own aesthetic that comes from my experience in art and design. I usually prefer simple and fine lines that make a design look stunning.
Do you have a favourite architect?
Hoon Chung: Frank Gehry and Tadao Ando.
Do you feel that in future we will be using 3D printing technologies more in fashion?
Hoon Chung: I definitely think that in ten years' time we will be using these techniques in fashion and employing these tools at home.
What plans do you have for the future?
Hoon Chung: I would like to explore new ways to replace traditional manufacturing systems with 3D technology in an eco friendly way.
Layer By Layer, Fashion Space Gallery, 1st Floor, London College of Fashion, 20 John Prince's Street, London W1G OBJ, 10th April-18th May 2013.
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