Qurratulain (Annie) Mehdi is the co-founder of Tangible Recollections, an art & design collective, focusing on creating personalized tangible reminders centered around people’s favorite memories.
Annie, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
My background is in graphic design. After completing my master’s degree, I started my career as a designer and an art teacher at the university level. Apart from graphic design, I like to experiment in multiple mediums like 3D printing, pixel art, illustrations, jewelry design, calligraphy, Mughal miniature art, traditional truck art, board games, card games etc.
I always wanted to look for new things, so I spent the next few years of my career honing my skills and mastering new art mediums. During my next few years in the United Kingdom, I took a lot of courses and workshops, attended exhibitions and did some soul-searching. There, I developed an interest in interactive installations and 3D modeling and 3D printing.
In 2016, I relocated with my family to Italy. Here, I won the station 1 of a call for creative cultural projects by Weigh Station. In this project, I decided to use 3D printing as the main medium. I led a team of four artists and designers to present the history of a north Italian city Bolzano using a series of 3D printed art installations and 3D printed maps of the city. Continuing from the momentum and capitalizing on the collaborations I had created in Bolzano, I co-founded Tangible Recollections, an art & design collective.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
Well, it’s a funny story, I went in for chocolate and discovered 3D printing, I will never forget it! It was a workshop about making 3D printed and vacuum-pressed molds for chocolate and in the end, I came out of workshop as a 3D printing fan !!
Could you explain furthermore what Tangible Recollections is and the services that you are providing?
Tangible Recollections is all about creating custom tangible art pieces which invoke a favorite memory, something worth remembering. These could be related to the item from a client’s childhood, a souvenir from their favorite place, something to pass on to the next generation, something they have on their bucket list or simply a highly personalized gift for someone we love. We discuss with clients, their own ideas or their dream projects. Then we improve and realize these ideas for them. If the client wants, we also include them in the actual production. We also help companies who want to create with us unique official merchandise or souvenirs.
So far, we have made 3D printed street maps, personalized keepsake boxes, an interactive historic map book, 3D building models, a card game, a board game, a custom chess set, interactive art installations and much more. We are more than happy to take custom design requests in order to make an art piece centered just around people’s thoughts and their memories, which they can’t explain or express!
How did you come to build the company?
It was something I wanted to do for myself first. Being a “90’s” kid, I remember a lot of little things, games, objects, from my childhood which are no longer available. It seems that everything from my childhood has been replaced with just mobile phones and tablets. I just wanted to re-live those good times with some tangible souvenirs from the past, and hence Tangible Recollections was born.
Why using 3D printing for your creations?
It’s versatile, and you can really experiment a lot. It’s good for prototyping and testing too.
Do you integrate other technologies as well?
These days I am more and more focusing on making my work interactive, so for me, technologies like animated projections, and Arduino would be important.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
We created a set of art installation depicting the history of a north Italian city Bolzano. Apart from 3D modeling and printing, a lot of research and study went into this project. In the end, I was happy to present a city’s history in a unique way, and I was delighted to see that the locals loved it… and that what counts the most!!
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
I would say that the key is to find the right people to work with. You will find a lot of people who will try to take advantage of you, but as soon as you find a few sincere and inspiring people, you are good to go!
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman artist in 3D Printing?
People automatically assume that a woman will have less expertise than a man. I try to prove otherwise.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
We are in talks with the representatives of a famous novel series to create merchandise based on the characters from that novel. Being a fan of that novel series, it would be like a dream come true, working for what I love. Fingers crossed!
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
Well, there are so many! But for me, the real impressive and impactful use is “customization”, you can create anything you have in your mind, even with less material than traditional manufacturing. This technology is still in its growing stages, but it’s developing rapidly. But an ordinary person can buy a 3d printer and start making 3d printed stuff on his desk is a big thing.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
I think the abundance of materials which are now available is the main game-changer. In the start, 3d printing was just rough prototypes…. now we have products !!
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
- As an artist?
As an artist, 3D printing is providing a lot of opportunities in many innovative ways, with a great variety of materials. This modern technology doesn’t need a lot of requirement but has endless possibilities. It’s so unbelievable!!!
- As a woman?
As a woman, especially as a mother, I think we can add new dimensions in learning that can engage the kids by making education fun and interesting, like you can make 3D puzzles, scientific models and other educational materials which can engage the children in classrooms.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
In my opinion, the 3D printing industry today is growing very fast. Obviously, the final target would be to have Star Trek type replicators ☺
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
We can do that by having more and more events, especially for ordinary women, who are not aware of the potentials of 3D printing. I personally plan to start a series of workshops for mothers and kids. I am sure this will encourage a lot of women and young girls to try 3D printing in my city.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? Rhinoceros & Blender
Favorite moment in your day job? Talking to people about their ideas
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? It’s a long list, but anything and everything new that I can try in 3D printing is on that list