Designer Spotlight: Kevin Wei

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New York based Kevin Wei is an architect turned jewelry designer who has been blowing us away with his new line of beautiful bracelets and necklaces in Sterling Silver. We had a chance to catch up with him at the Shapeways Meetup last week and were inspired to share his story.

He’s a big thinker, who tries “to work like writers do, with the world as my muse, technology like a pen in hand, to discover the biography of things.”

Cheat Sheet:

  • Tech he couldn’t live without: Digital calipers, DropBox, and Shapeways (his words, not ours!)
  • Favorite material: Sugru
  • Favorite font: Any font, as long as the words are extraordinary
  • 3D software of choice: Rhino, Grasshopper
  • Most prized object: The buckle on my backpack. It once saved me in a bike vs. taxi accident
  • Morning person / night owl: Sometimes neither

    How did you learn to design in 3D?

    I taught myself and learned from others, but that was easy.  I’m more
    interested in learning how to tell a story, how the art of storytelling
    resonates through acts of making.  It’s difficult, powerful, and I’m
    still learning how to do it.

    How would you describe your creative process?

    I root my work in the complex heritage of craft, design, and art,
    and then I execute it through techniques of architecture and
    engineering.  It’s all about equipping old ideas so they might flourish
    in a very different time and context.  I think the Cosma Bangle is my
    best example so far.  Its intricacy and construction absolutely require
    today’s technology, yet it has a historical and cultural story that goes
    back nearly 1000 years to the humble artisanship of mosaic workers.
     There’s something powerful about translating ideas and methods into
    stories for a new millennium.

    What do you do when you’re not designing?

    I have an incredible partner, Zach, and a ridiculously cute dog,
    Cowboy, who keep me very happy.  I also tinker with interactive, kinetic
    devices and teach students at Columbia University to do the same.  I
    once worked on a project about texting with fish in the East River. I’m
    always thinking about what’s next with my jewelry.

    Where do you do your best thinking?

    Queensboro Bridge, or wherever I can stare into the distance.
     It’s more a state of mind than a place.  Still, I think people need
    lots of space in order to contemplate and grow.  This can be hard to
    find in New York.

    What’s next on the design docket?

    Count on me to continue telling stories with intricate structures.
     I can rattle off a few headlines that are on my mind: showdown
    diorama; grandiose miniatures; topographies of the flesh.  Who knows
    what all that means in the end, but I’m excited to show you when I have
    it all worked out.

    Who are your favorite designers or artists?

    Jonathan Harris. His art is his life story, told in photography
    and interactive websites.  If you see his work, you can’t help but get
    inspired to remake your own life.

    Gerd Rothmann.  He made simple
    jewelry with finger and body prints taken from his clients.  Genius,
    because the jewelry itself didn’t matter – what mattered most was the
    story of how the imprint got there.

    If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?

    Something that would create new limits.

    Check out Kevin Wei’s work on the interwebs:

    Shapeways Shop  |  www.kevinwei.com  |  www.kevinweinewyork.com

    From the fish texting project for the ‘other life’, Amphibious Architecture.