10.04.2013 – 18.05.2013
Layer by Layer is the first of a two-part series exploring digital print in fashion. This exhibition focuses on 3D printing and its potential as a tool for design. By outlining some of the processes, stages of development and materials involved in the printing of objects, this exhibition will demonstrate some of the most innovative uses of 3D printing in contemporary practice.
3D printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, was first patented in the 1970s. Over time it has been used in the medical, military, aviation, automotive and manufacturing industries and is now increasingly used by architects and industrial designers to produce accurate prototypes of their designs. In recent years it has gained favour with fashion and accessory designers as a powerful alternative to other forms of manufacture or making. Combined with new advances in 3D modelling software, 3D printing is enabling designers to think creatively about their output in ways that were previously unimaginable.
Process can be understood as the technical steps required to achieve an end result and as the creative development of an idea through several stages. Here, both the process of making and designing are explored. Marloe’s ten Bhomer’s Construct 2 reveals the entire production process of her Rapidprototypedshoe (2010) from the initial process of scanning and digitising the shoe last through to the finished shoe.
Victoria Spruce’s shoes are printed using stereolithography, or solid imaging, technology. After the base of the shoe is printed in nylon, it is hand polished and finished using traditional shoemaking techniques. Marla Marchant demonstrates how an idea, in this instance the concept of a suspension frame, can be developed across a series. The 3D printed metal structure serves as a framework for Marchant to construct intricate hand-woven designs which incrementally progress from a stylized court shoe toward an entirely abstracted form.
Iris Van Herpen debuted her first 3D printed dress on the catwalk in 2010. Her most recent collection, Voltage, featured two 3D printed ensembles including an elaborate cape and skirt created in collaboration with Neri Oxman from MIT’s Media Lab and printed by Stratasys using multi-material technology. This combination of hard and soft materials gives her work an elasticity and movement uncommon in 3D printed garments. Another look, designed in collaboration with architect Julia Koerner and printed by Materialise, utilises an experimental new flexible material to form a highly intricate body conscious dress.
The exhibition will feature a Makerbot Replicator 2 printer which will run twice daily from Monday to Friday, enabling the visitor to see first hand the 3 D printing process. It will be used to produce new work by jeweller Silvia Weidenbach.
Working closely with Shapeways, a leading 3D printing marketplace and community, Fashion Space Gallery has commissioned the production of a materials library to illustrate the number of materials and finishes currently available to designers.
Shoes and eyewear on display further demonstrate a variety of ways materials have recently been used and provide insight into future research and development. Despite its delicate skeletal appearance, the Melonia Shoe, designed by fashion designer Naim Josefi, industrial designer Souzan Yusouf and printed by i.materialise, revealed its strength when debuted on the catwalk in February 2010. The shoe is designed as a closed loop system - a person can go into a shop, have their foot scanned and a shoe printed in a homogenous, recyclable material. Also on display is the Biomimicry Shoe, printed by i.materialise and designed by Marieka Ratsma in collaboration with Kostika Spaho, whose intricate details and elaborated surfaces could not have been fabricated in any other manner.
Hoon Chung’s pioneering shoes, printed by EOS, demonstrate how the upper and lower parts of an object can be printed together as one part in multiple materials. While the upper is made of a soft, flexible material, the heel, sole and shank are printed together in a hard plastic that maintains the structural integrity of the shoe. This innovative printing process significantly reduces material waste and eliminates the use of toxic glues.
One of the current obstacles for the development of 3D printing in fashion is its limited range of material possibilities. Liz Ciokajlo combines 3D printed components with industrial non-woven fibres and binders, more common to furniture and product design, to develop new methodologies in the field of footwear. These natural fibre-based materials soften the appearance of the shoe and yet are an integrated, weight supporting component of the shoe’s overall structure.
Ron Arad launched pq eyewear in 2012, as a means of introducing new ideas and materials into the established field of eyewear. 3D printed glasses are made as one piece, eliminating the need for costly and fragile metal hinge parts. This is made possible by a vertebrae-like slatted hinge which enables the arms to bend for storage and holds the glasses comfortably to the head when worn.
Innovations in 3D printing and modelling software are part of a greater shift in culture toward the digital, which includes the rise of online social media networks and e-commerce sites, as well as interfaces which connect these activities across various platforms.
3D printing companies like Nervous System have begun to harness these new capabilities in order to market and sell their products. Their digital design applications enable visitors to their website to customise and purhcase jewellery online.
Julia Gaimster has worked with Enrique Ramos to create a programme through which the design of a ring can be altered via twitter. Create your own design at #jewellerymorph.