This series of interviews is based the Test_Lab “Clothing without Cloth” which took place at V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media in Rotterdam, May 2011 and featured: Emily Crane (UK), Carole Collet (UK), Christien Meinderstsma (NL), Grado Zero Espace (IT), Pauline van Dongen (NL) and Freedom Of Creation (NL) .
Brian Garret designer at Amsterdam-based Freedom of Creation 3d design firm takes us through the burgeoning technology of 3D printing and its potential to revolutionize the material world as we know it. Speaking from a technical as well as artistic point of view, Brian presented at the Test_Lab “Clothing without Cloth” a series of designs (shoes, bags, dresses, gloves, rings – you name it!) developed and made by Freedom of Creation which interface with the textile and fashion world in new and unchartered ways.
How and when did Freedom Of Creation begin?
The idea for founding Freedom Of Creation was based on Janne Kyttanen’s project for graduation at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam 1999-2000. The project explored the possibilities of using 3D printing technology and Augmented Reality as viable technologies when changing production and distribution logistics on a global scale. After the graduation exhibition, Freedom Of Creation was founded in Helsinki, Finland, in 2000 and later moved to Amsterdam, The Netherlands in 2006.
What is your background?
I obtained my Master’s degree from the Faculty of Industrial Design at the Eindhoven University of Technology. My graduation project, presented in 2009, focused on customized 3D-printed headphones. I now work full-time at Freedom Of Creation as a product designer, with a focus on customization, interactivity in design and the blending of online tools and integration with social media.
From the first time I saw a 3D printer I was sold on the magic of the whole experience.
What led to your personal interest in 3D printing?
When I was really young I always dreamt of being an inventor, having the possibility to create really new things. From the first time I saw a 3D printer I was sold on the magic of the whole experience.
– Freedom of Creation for Brian Garret “Customized 3D-Printed Headphones” –
Please describe the Freedom Of Creation studio – where are you located, how many designers/technologists work with you, and how are the designs produced?
Freedom Of Creation is based in Amsterdam. We have 8 people in the studio of which half are full-time 3D designers. We also work with a number of freelance designers, and we have an international platform of young and talented designers, who work for us on competition basis. It’s inherent to the 3D printing technology to have very short product creation cycles; we can go from idea to the final product in a matter of weeks.
The longer you work with the technology the more you get used to it, this triggers you to keep pushing boundaries and explore new developments within the field we work in.
How does the environment you work in influence the designs you make (i.e. access to technology/ specialists)?
When you step into our studio it’s like stepping into the future, that’s reflected in the way we think, talk, design and collaborate with each other. The longer you work with the technology the more you get used to it, this triggers you to keep pushing boundaries and explore new developments within the field we work in.
What kinds of materials and technologies are used or integrated into 3D printing?
It’s faster to list the materials that aren’t used for 3D printing. Currently we work with many types of plastics, rubbers, metals, glass, paper and even ceramic materials. What will be really exciting is to see the first 3D printed electronics appear.
How does 3D printing work? Describe the process!
3D printing is an additive manufacturing process, this means that it builds up material layer by layer instead of removing or injecting material. This additive process is based on a digital 3D file which can be created in pretty much any 3D software. Based on this digital file cross sections of the object are merged together to form the final product.
Does Freedom Of Creation collaborate with technologist/laboratories, and if so, whom and how does this effect the choice of designs and materials?
Freedom Of Creation has always been on the frontier of the 3D printing design field. We often collaborate with companies, individuals and research institutes to create new applications, materials or designs. This is much appreciated by the industry since we have a different mindset than an average 3D printing engineer.
– Freedom of Creation “V Bag” –
How much do the materials and technologies used in the designs influence the aesthetics? Or do the aesthetics dictate the technologies, and how?
Since 3D printing today is quite an expensive manufacturing process it only makes sense to create products or structures that can’t be made in any other way. I am thinking of two specific cases: the creation of “impossible” 3D geometries as you find in most of our products, or the production of customized items – products that are personalized each time they are produced. Of course we exploit these technologies from both directions.
What do you think the technology brings to the craft and role of design?
This is a point of discussion for lots of people these days, because many traditionally educated artists and designers don’t understand the craft that goes into making a good 3D design. Within the 3D software we use there are a myriad of different tools, each of which requires certain skills and precision to master. To give an example, the 1597 wall light took Janne over 6 months of digital yet manual labor.
The obvious challenge is the lack of limitations you have when working with rapid manufacturing technologies. Unlike traditional design professions there are very little limitations.
What are the challenges for you as a designer working with 3D printing technology?
The obvious challenge is the lack of limitations you have when working with rapid manufacturing technologies. Unlike traditional design professions there are very little limitations as to what you can make, hence the company name “Freedom Of Creation”. This requires a clear vision from the designers of what you want to make with the technology.
What are the advantages in making 3D printed designs? Time? Design? Economic?
Time? Yes, it’s much faster as “in theory” you can produce anything overnight. Design? Yes, in return for using this technology you get unlimited freedom. Economic? Yes, for small series, say 1 – 5,000 pieces, 3D printing is more economic since no mold is required. As for the designs that can’t be made in any other way, it’s always more economic to make it with 3D printing.
What do you think the 3D printing technology brings to the craft and role of fashion? Do you think we’ll see more and how/where? For example, in the future, will we be going to the local “print” shop to make our clothes the same way we go to print photos?
Yes, yes, yes. 3D printing is going to have a huge impact on fashion, because fashion is about being unique, being different and expressing yourself. With 3D printing it’s easy to make those one-off high-heels or that perfect handbag you always wanted. The development 3D printing is going through is fairly similar to 2D printing, and therefore you can expect people to have small basic 3D printers in their homes within the next 10 years. However the high quality finishes and special materials will remain exclusive to local print-shops & online print-platforms.
We are now seeing an increase in low-cost DIY 3D printers such as MakerBot and Ultimaker. Can you describe the technical differences between these “home” printers and the ones Freedom of Creation uses?
The difference in “home” and professional printers is in quality, surface finish, materials and speed. When you produce something on a professional printer you get a durable long-lasting product suitable to function as an end-product. Home printers will become better over time, improving speed, surface finish and materials. However the professional printers will always produce better quality, comparable to the difference between desktop and professional 2d printers.
How can we avoid 3D printing becoming just another fast and cheap technology that is predominantly based on plastics and potentially wasteful?
At this moment the market is still too small for effective recycling of 3D printed materials, but as the market and industry grows it is highly likely that people will be able to re-use materials from old products thereby reducing waste and pollution. On a more abstract level, 3D printing decreases the demand for mass-production, transportation and keeping stocked products.
Could you describe the series of body-related 3D printed designs that you are showcasing at the V2_ Test_Lab “Clothing without Cloth” event such as a Dress, Punch Bag, and Gloves? How were they made?
In a way, these body-related designs are very similar in the sense that they have a type of 3D printed textile incorporated in them. This 3D printed textile is something we came up with already a long time ago, the first bags were made by Janne Kyttanen and Jiri Evenhuis back in 2005. What all these 3D patterns have in common is that they are very flexible and made up of countless moving parts.
What is the demand and market for body-related 3D printed designs?
We see demand from lots of different fields, but one field that stands out lately is the shoe design business. Maybe it’s due to the fact that many high-end shoes are still made by hand and there are lots of ways 3D printing could make this more interesting.
You designed some 3D printed headphones – can you tell us what it is that the 3D process makes unique, that could not be done in any other technology?
For my graduation work back in 2009, I designed a pair of customizable 3D printed headphones that can be personalized by the user with their own music taste. This means that there is a textual pattern on the headband of the headphones composed of your favorite music, tracks, bands, lyrics or albums. This pattern is of course three dimensional and different for each customer – therefore impossible to make with traditional manufacturing techniques.
Shoes are fun, and relatively easy to make with 3D printing, however a dress is much more exciting to design than a pair of shoes because you have to work with the challenging canvas of the female body.
Freedom Of Creation collaborated with Pauline van Dongen on her “Metamorphosis” shoe and Andreia Chaves on a “Naked Shoe” and an “Invisible Shoe” – from a fashion stand point do you see shoes as being the most suited accessory/garment for using 3D printing? Also, can you describe the process of collaboration with the fashion designers?
Shoes are fun, and relatively easy to make with 3D printing, however a dress is much more exciting to design than a pair of shoes because you have to work with the challenging canvas of the female body. We collaborate with fashion designers constantly, but of course we get many more requests than we can facilitate. Therefore we pick the designers that challenge us, challenge the technology and are able to make an impact in the fashion world itself.
You designed a “V2_” ring – can you tell us about it and describe the design process?
For the design of the V2 ring I thought it would be nice to use the V2 logo as the basis. I transformed the logo into 3D by extruding the “V” and “2” separately and morphing them from one shape into the other, finally bending the whole design into a ring shape.
After seeing some of the speculative design coming out of Carole Collet from Central Saint Martins Textiles Futures student designs do you imagine one day 3D printing organic materials, such as food or plants? What is the most adventurous material that you can imagine printing with?
Of course 3D printing will expand to printing food, plants and even human tissue. In fact there are already some first steps made with this, such as a 3D Food Printer, these edible mini rockets and bioprinting (printing organs). I think there is a market for each and every single material you can think of for 3D printing, as long as there is a market someone will dive into it.
Christien Meindertsma in her “One Sheep Sweater” is using local “textiles”. How might Freedom Of Creation harness local natural resources to create their designs?
We would love to recycle local paper, plastic or wood as input for 3D printing our products, and believe me we will be the first to attempt it such as our Tree-D printing in wood but for now that’s just a few years ahead of us.
Grado Zero Espace excels in finding a form and use for scientific research. How do you perceive the overlaps between the fashion industry and science and how can they be consolidated for better design purposes?
Of course there is overlap in the fields, the trick is to find the right people who see and understand the overlap and get them to make great things.
What future collaborations (which you can speak of!) are you anticipating at Freedom Of Creation.
We’re currently working with Maarten Baas on a nice project for Amnesty International. We’re making 3D printed scale models of his ‘Empty Chair’ design. All the other upcoming projects, plans and collaborations are super secret. 🙂
Amsterdam, June 2011