Kasia is a fashion and accessories designer. Before entering the 3D Printing world, she used to work in fashion for several years. A couple of years ago, she created her own brand, Collected Edition. Beside being gorgeous pieces of jewelry and accessories, her creations are brought to live thanks to a mix of traditional handcraft and 3D printing technologies. No need to say that we love her work!
Kasia, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing?
Kasia: I studied fashion design and art history at Pratt Institute before working in luxury women’s wear for designers like Vera Wang and J. Mendel. I always loved the craft of high-end fashion, but I loved less the inaccessibility of that market.
3D printing is much more egalitarian- if you have a strong design direction and are willing to put the time and energy into learning how to design in 3D, the world is your oyster. I’ll admit, I had a few false starts- some ugly vases, some disastrous early attempts at making ferns- but once I hit a groove, I was so completely enamoured of the possibilities 3D printing held.
I now design and sell my work on Etsy, Shapeways, and my own website. I focus primarily on jewelry and headpieces, but make a few men’s accessories and tabletop pieces, as well.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
About 5 years ago, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) designed and printed an extremely delicate chain-link necklace in nylon for my birthday. It was the first time I can recall holding something 3D printed in my hand, and I couldn’t believe how intricate and finely detailed it was. I think, in a lot of ways, that was the moment in which 3D printing planted itself firmly in my brain- at the time, I had no clue how to even begin to model that necklace, but it was a sliver of possibility that was intoxicating.
What does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by the fusion of handcraft and machine. My work is always intricate, feminine, and delicate. But the main guiding principle of my design aesthetic is retaining a sense of the human touch.
My current collection is very rooted in flowers and nature- it’s a perfect inspiration for that approach. When I design and model a flower, for example, I don’t aim to create the most ideal, symmetrical flower. I always want it to feel like it was just picked. It’s my take on the wabi-sabi aesthetic- if something is looking too perfect, I’ll add an off-kilter petal, or a wayward stamen.
The thing I love most about a flower or a ribbon whipping in the wind is that it only looks like that for a moment- the next time you look, it will have changed. To be able to capture that split-second is something I’ll always strive to do.
Why using 3D printing for your creations?
The advantages of 3D printing for jewelry are numerous. It checks a box on every level of the design process.
On an aesthetic level, the degree of detail and intricacy possible with 3D printing would be virtually impossible (or at the very least, prohibitively expensive and labor-intensive) to create with traditional jewelry techniques. It also allows me to be more creative in my compositions, because I am not limited to a specific set of molds or dies to use for, say, a petal or leaf. I can create an infinite number of variations very easily, and it ends up making the final piece much more dynamic.
I also love being able to make quick, on the fly changes. There’s tremendous potential for customization- the ease with which it can be executed really makes 3D printing special. Rather than messing around with carving new waxes or starting from scratch like you might have to in traditional jewelry-making, I can really focus in on making a change, and then get back to what I like to do best, which is dreaming up and designing new pieces
Do you integrate other technologies as well?
Previously, I’ve done a lot of work with laser-cut wood and acrylic- maybe I’ll combine the two in future projects!
The potential for the addition of other technology to 3D printed jewelry is at the tips of our fingers. I think it’d be tremendously exciting to see really high-tech jewelry and accessories that still looks very decorative- things like GoogleGlass and the Apple Watch look so functional. There are a lot of great companies, like Ringly and Altruis, that are starting to move in that direction. Perhaps Collected Edition will join them!
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today?
It’s so exciting to see technologies that have been used somewhat esoterically for decades finally come to light on a consumer level. I love seeing how designers from a wide variety of backgrounds- architects, animators, engineers, fashion designers- approach the technology in such different ways. It’s incredible to see the range of products people are making- everything from parts for quadcopters to anatomical models of mythical beasts. I will, say, though, that we absolutely need to hear more women’s voices in 3D printing- women make 70-80% of consumer decisions, so it’s only fair that we should be making that same percentage of the products!
Agreed! How could we improve things for the 3D Printing industry?
I think part of the reason consumer printing is still fairly specialized is because of current material limitations. Although at-home printers are great for testing out concepts, learning the ropes, and refining prototypes, the simple fact is that plastic is a hard sell as a consumer material in an age of eco-consciousness and curated consumption. That’s why the introduction of premium metals and ceramics at platforms like Shapeways, Sculpteo or i.Materialise is game-changing; it allows profession designers and tinkerers alike to have a real, quality, useful end-product, rather than a novelty item that will end up on a shelf, gathering dust. The more effort put into developing new and exciting materials, the more I think we’ll see designers and artisans flocking to 3D printing, and subsequently, getting customers more excited to experiment with it themselves.
I’d also love to see more user-friendly software and modeling programs. We need a Mac for CAD to emerge; an intuitive experience with a short learning curve will absolutely change the industry. Not everyone will need high-powered modeling capabilities, so if developers can create software that allows people to quickly and easily design basic things for their homes- a replacement mug after you just shattered your last one, or adapters and hooks for hanging the plants you just bought- that will transform the way people approach making and DIY design.
And in terms of encouraging more women to join the industry?
Right now, consumer 3D printing is a bit of a boys’ club- it becomes painfully obvious in forums or in the marketplaces of 3D printing platforms. Particularly as someone coming from a non-STEM background, it can be an intimidating space; early on, I will admit that I had thoughts of, “What business do I have trying to do this work? I don’t fit here.”
I think this sense of exclusion is the biggest barrier to entry for women trying to get into this field, regardless of whether it’s as a designer or hobbyist.
I think a huge key to this change is firing up the next generation of girls to get excited about the opportunities with this technology. 3D printing isn’t mainstream enough yet for a true gender gap to exist between girls and boys- but I think we’re at a pivotal moment. We need to create workshops and classes, exclusively for young girls and teens, that cater to their varied interests. They need to be able to make things that are immediately applicable to their lives, things they can wear and use and carry and show off, things that will inspire their friends and sisters and teammates- as well as the older women in their lives- to want to make, too.
We need to send the message that it doesn’t matter WHAT they’re making- toys, jewelry, mechanical parts, robots- what matters is that they’re making.
If you are interested in learning more about Kasia and checking out her beautiful work, we invite you to visit her website!
And don’t forget to join the Women in 3D Printing group on LinkedIn and Facebook!