This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Erica Schwartz of DesignErica a designer whose path has taken her from religious studies to Pratt, to designing for a private label, to finally launching her own jewelry line.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I grew up in New York in a household where creativity was not just encouraged but required. I went to college in New Hampshire and moved to Brooklyn in 2001. I live in an amazing house in Greenpoint with a bunch of cool people which also houses my office and studio.
What's the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I find a lot of inspiration in nature and geometry, but everything seems to come with a certain sense of playfulness. I have kind of a fear of being boring and/or bored. I like to make things that make you smile or make you think. Or maybe both. Right now i'm working on jewelry that is meant to be played with.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
While studying religion at Dartmouth, I decided I really wanted to be a designer. I went back to school for a Masters of Industrial Design degree at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where I took a couple of Solidworks classes and really enjoyed them. Those classes gave me the tools to easily exercise all the other knowledge and skills I learned at Pratt. I created my first 3D printed object at Pratt- a coaster which I still have.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
After Pratt I got a job doing private label watch and jewelry design. I spent my days designing high-end objects that I could never afford. This got my mind churning on my own ideas that were not appropriate for the audience I was employed to design for but more for people like me. I started with laser-cutting and 3D printing stuff just for fun. I saw that other people (specifically Nervous System) were selling 3D printed products to people outside of the community and thought: "Hey, I want to do that!"
How do you promote your work?
I started with an etsy shop, which I still try to maintain because it drives its own traffic. I recently launched a full-fledged online retail site as well. I've done some craft shows, sold through a couple of design collectives, and I'm just starting to make some headway in the wholesale market. You can find my stuff at the Brooklyn Museum Shop. I think it's important to get 3D printed products into markets outside of the community of modelers and those "in the know" (ie, you and me). This way they can be appreciated for their inherent design not just because its a cool process.
Who are your favorite designers or artists?
This one is tough! Gaudi and Frank Lloyd Write...Panton, Pucci, Noguchi, Nakashima, Charles and Ray Eames... this list could go on forever!
Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
Nervous System showed me this kind of thing was really possible and their work is amazing. The boys at GothamSmith are great. And Sandy Noble from UpToMuch, who taught me how to dye WSF in my kitchen. Also everyone who works at Shapeways and deals with me when I'm frustrated, thank you!
I love these rings. so simple and yet so great! So you are saying that a Design Degree helped you in stepping out of the norm? I like too that you have a place I can try my hand at designing a ring. Definitely will try this. Thanks.
Well for sure coming from an industrial design background led me to approach jewelry in a different way than traditional jewelry designers. Also the Pratt ID program is geared toward people without a formal design background. I'm pretty sure I just have a wacky mind though, too. Hard to say exactly where it comes from. My parents surely have a hand in it as well.