Eyebeam Art + Technology joined forces with Shapeways to bring 15 young design and technology professionals together to create garments using the latest 3D software and printing techniques. The resulting pieces were printed at Shapeways and shown in New York throughout September at an exhibition titled Re-Making Patterns.
In four years Eyebeam Director Roddy Schrock has watched the Computational Fashion Program behind the exhibit grow from a largely under-the-radar research initiative to a bit of a sensation.
“At this point, we will announce an event and within three hours, we’ll have a thousand RSVPs,“ said Schrock on the closing day of the current show at Eyebeam’s new gallery space at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.
He credits the ubiquity of microcomputers and wearable technology with the growing public interest and engagement in high-tech fashion.
“It’s becoming something that is no longer seen as fringe,” said Schrock. “It’s seen by major fashion houses, by apparel companies and by the creative world in general as a viable media for expression and commerce.”
Leila Ligougne, a fashion designer specializing in blouses and dresses, estimates that she, Danielle Martin and Sasha de Koninck spent about 1,800 hours learning and hacking Rhino and Grasshopper software to create a 3D-printed dress modeled on the silhouette of a hand.
“We’re passionate about textiles, so one of my teammates re-wrote a (weaving) program to make it particular to computers,” said Ligougne. “We applied some formulas that would mess up the trajectory of the yarns … to go in random directions. This makes the dress very unique, the combination of the shape and the textile.”
Kate Specter, a digital modeler with a background in neuroscience research and 3D animation, worked with Kim Maglorie and Sayeh Sayar to create several butterfly-inspired pieces.
“Under a scanning electron microscope, you can see all kinds of fascinating architectures,” said Specter, who modeled a fascinator 3D-printed in the shape of a halved butterfly egg.
Minna Kao, a jewelry designer who is planning a new line based on 3D design techniques she learned in the program, worked with partners Laura Forlano and Amy Sperber to create 3D-printed menswear.
“We were very surprised and delighted with how generous (the instructors) were in sharing not only the process but the code itself to generate the artwork,” said Sperber. “The community is founded on everyone developing further ideas from it being available to everyone.”
The widespread availability of design software and rendering hardware had these designers singing the praises of computational fashion instead of bemoaning the couturier’s fate in a high-tech future when people would be able to design and 3D-print their own garments.
With faith in the enduring usefulness of a dressmaker’s pattern, Leila Ligougne said, “You still need to have a good design that’s relevant.”