This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Remi van Oers, a Dutch designer interested in using 3D printing to solve problems in beautiful, functional ways.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
I'm a young enthusiastic designer, 26 years old, interested in culture, people, art, architecture & design. I studied at the Dutch Design Academy, and now run my own design company located in a former Philips factory in Eindhoven, a city that breathes creativity and innovation.
What's the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
That's a good question. I'm interested in people, and how to improve their daily lives. The longer I work in the design profession, the harder it seems for me to define the profession, and the word! I feel that the word design is misused, design is not about styling or decoration, it's about solving problems in useful thoughtful ways. In my opinion it should serve people, as good design helps people move forward, in every possible way. To answer the question; I think I'm inspired by problems and thoughtless solutions. I'm inspired by the opportunity to solve them in an innovative and user friendly way.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
The products in my Shapeways shop, are basically products I needed myself. I couldn't buy them anywhere so I decided to design them myself. While enjoying the results I thought more people could benefit the solutions and I decided to make my designs available to everyone. That turned out to be a good idea. People where having the same problems and suddenly I was selling thoughful solutions. This was especially visible by the product Clip-it, a simple clip to convert your iPhone charger to a travel dock. The phone is somehow designed to have a flat battery within a day, so designing an easy charging solution made sense and turned out to be something people wanted worldwide.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
In 2002 I started as a student of architecture, and there I was first exposed to Computer Aided Design. I hated it for exactly two weeks, after that the teacher showed me what was going to be possible with CAD and 3D design. It was like seeing the light, I instantly knew that this was going to be the future. From there on, I overloaded my teacher with tons of questions every week, about how to draw specific forms. Luckily, the teacher was a master, he could see from a distance when my lines were not straight. 3D printing was still in its infancy but we used the CAD programs to turn idea sketches into technical drawings and realistic renders. Later during my study as a product designer I dived into the process of turning ideas into test models by using Rapid Prototyping, the start of learning Rapid Manufacturing, currently called 3D Printing.
How do you promote your work?
I don't do much promotion actually. I discovered that if you make nice products and bring them to notice to people, they will spread the word for you because they like it. That works better than me telling how much I like it myself. I think products that have a reason for being will get discovered, first by a small group and then suddenly get discovered by a lot of people. It did help a lot that some blogs wrote about the products I designed, as the products tell a certain story, the bloggers understand that story and they love to share it with their own words.
Who are your favourite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I'm inspired by lots of influencers, some not even designers. I have great respect for people like Steve Jobs, Bill Moggridge, Charles & Ray Eames, Jonathan Ive, Philippe Starck. To name another designer, I admire Dieter Rams a lot, he of course doesn't need any further introduction. The work he achieved and how it influenced the product world, it is just phenomenal. From the Shapeways community, I really like the work of the Curve Creative guys.
If you weren't limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I trust, that soon, we won't be so limited anymore. So people are probably naming big things here. But I believe you should never think from the medium as a starting point, or in this case the production method. It limits you then already because you think about a specific process. It's more interesting to just dream up what you want. What you want may often seem impossible, but by keeping in mind the idea you will notice that with passion you are able to push boundaries. Suddenly you are doing what seemed to be impossible before and are then pushing the boundaries of machining and production. I also think you should use 3D printing process for parts we are not able to make yet with current production technologies. So I'm not necessarily thinking in bigger parts that could be used to build homes. I'm thinking smaller parts here, very detailed, fully assembled in multi materials. I would love to design and realize the next super phone with one shot 3D printing through the upcoming technologies, but would also love to see people developing human organs with it to save peoples lives.
Anything else you want to share?
As a designer I believe in innovation, I believe in people and their will to improve and evolve. 3D printing and other new technologies are embracing these thoughts and therefore soon will change industrial production, change consumer behaviour, change the economic frame, test and change the rules of intellectual property, change the way companies realize and deliver products. And eventually it will change the way we look at products. I'm positive about the future!