In this feature of Behind the Product, we focus on the designs of Andrea van Hintum. Hintum was awarded the Shapeways Education Grant in Spring 2015 for her senior thesis collection at the Savannah College of Art and Design. This collection was unique in that Hintum incorporated hand sewn garments paired with her own 3D printed accessories. Since graduation, Hintum has moved to New York and worked with a number of designers on 3D printed textiles and accessories.
Could you describe the story of your designs and what inspired them?
The ideas and inspiration for my thesis came through my late father’s profession as an electrical engineer. I have always been so inspired by his work, creativity, and the person that he was. I moved forward and created a collection that would carry the representational meaning and aesthetic of both electrical and mechanical engineering. Structure, shapes, and materials for my designs were reflected from a variety of mechanical and electrical machinery. The textiles used within the collection are all industrial and conductive fabrics with contents of stainless steel and blends of nickel, sliver, and copper coatings. With the incredible techniques I had learned in my short three years at SCAD and the 2012 Computational Fashion Master Class held by Eyebeam, I could finally make my dream of 3D printing fashion a reality. With techniques and knowledge in 3D modeling and printing, I incorporated 3D printed nylon into my senior collection. I am the first designer in 36 years at SCAD to incorporate, design, and put 3D printing down the runway. It is an achievement I am so proud of because the amount of hours put into it was unbearable.
Please describe the process you used to create your final product.
I was inspired by machinery of all kinds. The shapes and structures are so innovative and bold and that inspired me to 3D model accessories with the same aesthetic. Machines with sharp structured blades were my absolute favorite. I began fabricating with paper to get an idea of what maybe could be a bladed corset or even a neck piece. That strong and structured shape just gave me endless ideas of what I could create for each look.
Once I had my idea down, I needed a body to 3D model from in order to get the right shapes and curves. I 3D scanned a dress form with 123D catch. I then imported the form into Meshmixer. This is where I would sculpt my sloppers to make sure the contours would reflect to the body. Once I had my ideal shape, I imported the surfaces into Rhino and began 3D modeling. I would 3D print half scale prototypes to make sure the design and thickness were meeting my standards. From there after several more hours, long nights, and computer screen scans, I submitted my work to Shapeways and the magic happened.
The combination of engineering and fashion is intriguing. What was your experience bringing these two worlds together?
I really believe the aesthetics of fashion and engineering are quite similar. Material and function are very important in both subjects. An engineer has the responsibility to come up with how to make an object do its functions. A technical designer is handed a design and it is our job to figure out how to make it and bring it to life being both wearable and working. Engineering and fashion are both very important because we use these subjects every single day in our lives. It takes so much concentration, work, and determination to pursue these careers that both an engineer and designer have grown to live with eyes for details.
I really enjoyed using engineering as my muse for this collection. It made me look and think in different ways. Taking this inspiration really gave me the opportunity to try nontraditional textiles and incorporate 3D printing. I do see myself exploring more type of engineering aspects and I am sure they will continue to inspire me.
How did you learn to design in 3D?
I’ve always loved to work with my hands and I knew that when I decided to make Sculpture my minor back at SCAD, it was going to benefit me in my fashion career. You see, the most successful way for me to come up with designs or to get inspired would always start by working in 3D. Once I knew what direction I wanted to take, I would translate the design to a more descriptive 2D work, then end up with a physical 3D object and/or design. The great thing is that that process works similar in sculpture. It was very exciting to know that I was going to get the chance to learn 3D modeling because of my minor. I was determined to learn 3D modeling and incorporate it into my first collection as a designer. I wanted to be that bold designer who would add something completely unique and different into their designs. However I really did not know a thing about Rhino or any 3D sculpting program. I had taken the beginner 3D modeling class and learned the basics of Rhino. At first Rhino intimidated me, but with practice I became way more comfortable and confident with the program. I got so use to modeling in Rhino that every little thing I saw, I would tell myself that I could easily 3D model it. It was a really cool feeling, because most fashion designers really don’t go through that.
Do you have a preferred modeling software?
I love Rhino. You can always learn something new whenever you 3D model something. So many techniques to learn, and the fact that you can design whatever you want is pretty awesome. I’m all about details. I have learned Grasshopper, but I would much rather spend the time on and hand-build the details with Rhino. It can be tedious, and it really works your eye for detail, but there is no greater feeling to know that you have created something that does not exist anywhere else.
Who are some of your favorite designers and artists? Shapeways designers?
Iris van Herpen really was my attention starter to create such innovative and interesting designs. She never has a collection that is like the other in any other way. She is the type of designer to constantly show something new and give people something to talk about. Her works are walking pieces of art and the materials and concept behind them are always what makes me appreciate her designs even more. I admire many other designers for a variety of reasons. Maxime Simoens, Krikor Jabotian, Ralph Lauren, Addy van den Krommenacker – just to name a few.
I really admire Auguste Rodin and his attention to detail and emotion in his works of art. He tells stories and encourages his viewer to physically relate to his works of art. Vladimir Tatlin is another artist and designer I have really grown to appreciate. He is a painter and architect with an interesting background and story. I really admire his architecture and how he made such an influence in art and design.
Lauren Slowik has been pretty awesome. I met her at the Computational Fashion Master class last summer and she was just so cool to be around and learn from her. She has stayed in contact with me throughout this year and has advised me with terms of how I should print in Shapeways. I am really grateful that I got to meet Lauren….thanks so much again Lauren!!!
What opportunities do you believe 3D printing brings to art and fashion?
3D modeling and printing can benefit anyone. Artists, designers, doctors, teachers, even kids can benefit by learning this skill. With 3D modeling you are ALWAYS learning new things such as: new ways of problem solving, creative thinking, and general knowledge overall. It gives a clear 360 view on anything. Not just physically but also functionally to. Fashion is going to continue to benefit from this because it is building up way more creative ideas and designs in the industry. I am serious when I tell people that I really see 3D modeling and printing changing the world and I am excited to actually be a part of that.
Is 3D printing being used in the fashion industry?
I believe it is getting to a point that most designers today are considering incorporating 3D printing, especially now that you can even 3D print in gold, titanium, and other unique materials. The creativity is endless! However, I think the new up and coming designers are really taking action with fashion technology. As 3D printers become more affordable and accessible, I think every designer should have a 3D printer in the work room.
I was so proud to see Karl Lagerfield bring 3D printing down the runway in Chanel’s fashion show this summer. He understands the beauty and elegance in 3D printing fashion and it was all executed just right. As fashion week comes up, I can’t wait to see who is next to use 3D printing. The cool thing is that each designer who will 3D print is going to make it different from the other and that is the best part about this technology.
What were some of the most important steps during the design process?
The Computational Fashion Master class was the best decision I made in this whole experience. I got to learn from designers and instructors in the industry of 3D design. I met so many people who made a mark in the 3D design world that became very inspiring to me. I learned the whole process of what it is like to really 3D print fashion. I got to interact with other artists, designers and leaders at Shapeways. I always recommend that workshop to those who want to start learning 3D fashion. At the end of the class each team presented a 3D printed garment in an exhibition during fashion week last fall. I was even more thrilled to find out that my teams design was later shown in Dutch Design week in October 2014!
Were you met with any difficulties during the production process?
I honestly could write an entire book from my whole experience of senior collection. To design, pattern make, drape, and sew a collection by yourself is already the most overwhelming thing to do. Aside from constantly working in the sewing lab, I had to 3D model my pieces and accessories. It really took drive and passion for me to do everything. To 3D model such complex pieces is not easy and it requires extreme hours to get things done right. I would have all these amazing ideas but in the end it’s about figuring out how you are going to make it happen. It’s not fun to 3D model something so beautiful just to find out in the end you have an odd number of naked edges. Not fun at all! It happens of course, but again you learn as you go and begin to learn steps on how to rebuild surfaces and make a clear more definition of your solids.
Production for me was all about deadlines. Senior collection at SCAD is insanely tough with it only being a quarter system. I was so committed to my collection, because the inspiration and work put into my designs meant the world to me. It was the most challenging year of my life, but the experience was something I will cherish forever. That second I would put my 3D prints on my models I knew I was capable to be whoever I wanted to be and at that moment I knew I had accomplished way more than I ever thought I could. Till this day I can still remember that very moment I saw my gown walk with my 3D prints down the runway at SCAD. It is a memory that will never get old for me to replay again and again.
Can we expect more 3D printed garments from you?
Oh yes! My senior thesis collection was only the beginning. I continue to design 3D printed fashion outside my day job. I love it so much and I am already planning what to 3D model in both garments and accessories. I have more ideas up my sleeve so just stay tuned!
For more with Hintum:
If you are in the New York area, you can find her work and the work of other 3D modelers displayed at the eyebeam exhibition, Making Patterns. This exhibition is open until the 17th of September and is located at 117 Beekman Street, Manhattan, NY.
For more information: http://eyebeam.org/events/making-patterns.
To take a look inside the artist’s vision and process, you can follow her on Instagram @andreavanhintum or on her website at https://www.behance.net/AndreavanHintum.
In the near future, you will be able to purchase Hintum’s designs through Shapeways. Many of her designs will focus on handbags and other accessories.
Photographer/ Wes Graham
Photo Editor/ Jose Gallo