We talk a lot about inspiration at Shapeways because we’re interested in knowing how the amazing designs we see come to be. Whether it’s an idea that’s been brewing for months or something that just came to you in your sleep, we want to know the story!
Recently, we were introduced to Rob Bartlett of Caxton Rhode. His recent designs were inspired by Wimbledon, and we caught up with him after the tournament to find out more.
Who are you/where are you located?
My name is Rob Bartlett and I am the Creative Director & Designer at Caxton Rhode in Wimbledon. I live in South West London, England.
What is the inspiration and story behind the designs?
Being based in the same town as the most prestigious tennis tournament on Earth, is a great privilege. As my entire business is based around creating exclusive one-of-a-kind designs, I set myself the challenge of designing something Wimbledon related for each of the final seven days of the event.
Please describe the process you use to create the final product.
All of my early ideas start life as a series of hand drawn sketches. I am strong believer in having a solid story in place first, prior to attempting to develop anything further. As this particular design challenge was centered around a very recognizable event, there were already a host of ready-made icons to focus in on. The end products themselves (a tennis racquet bottle opener and strawberry cocktail stirrer) were chosen partly because of their wider summertime connotations, but also because I was thinking consciously about the printable materials and their size constraints. (They also just happen to be really beautiful looking objects too).
How did you learn to design in 3D?
I taught myself this time last year (July 2014). I was staging a return to Tent London, a trade show during London Design Week and wanted a statement piece to sit amid my interior design scheme. 3D printing was the big thing last summer and so I decided to create (and had Shapeways print) a fully functional lampshade for the show. I have always been fascinated with 3D and often dabbled during my 18 years in graphic design. However, it always seemed a graphics package too far. Of course, it is amazing what the looming deadline of a show will force you to do.
Who are some of your favorite designers or artists. Has anyone on Shapeways inspired you?
In terms of traditional media, I am lifelong William Morris and Ukiyo-e superfan. I love design and designers that make you stop dead in your tracks and question, just how on Earth they managed to do the things they did. Especially in context of the time in which they lived.
In terms of designers with their products on Shapeways, Bathsheba’s Klein Bottle Opener is a future Design Museum piece to my eyes. It is a modern classic and the first 3D printed piece I saw and suddenly understood the magnificence of this emerging media.
What opportunities do you believe printing in 3D brings to artists. How is that demonstrated in your work?
I truly believe that 3D printing (and other emerging manufacturing techniques) will have a profound affect on every aspect of our lives. I encourage all of my clients to celebrate personal taste and being able to design and produce products for their own exclusive use is extraordinary. This is without doubt the next golden age in design and the most incredible thing for me, is that we are only just approaching the starting line. When you look back at figures like Morris, you quickly realize that he was someone pioneering completely new techniques and charting new ground in his time. Great design isn’t about standing still and feeling nostalgic. It is and always has been about progress. I genuinely feel that we owe it to the craftsmen and women of the past to do something worthy during our time in charge.
Do you have other 3D printing objects in mind?
3D and 3D printing for me is an integral part of my designers toolkit. Every time a new material is released or a process improved, I instantly start thinking about ways of putting it to use. I am patiently waiting for a ‘multi material, single print’ process to emerge in order to really bring a number of ideas to life.
How did you first hear of 3D printing?
I have been aware of it for years but in all honesty, it was Shapeways that made it make sense to me. I think it is now something that most people have heard of and understand to be possible, but are still yet to experience it’s potential.
Thanks so much for your time, Rob! Be sure to check out more of his work and inspiration over here.