Designer Spotlight: Gabriel Prero

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Gabriel Prero, an industrial designer by day, who loves the mistress that is his Shapeways Cufflink Junkie Shop whenever he’s off business hours. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

My name is Gabriel Prero, and I’m an Industrial Designer based in Chicago, with a love for the technical and tinkering. I consider myself one of the lucky ones who gets to do a job he loves. I’ve designed housewares, furniture, office products, juvenile stuff, medical supply, tech gadgets, pet supplies and more, and currently work at Home Products International, along with running my own studio, Prero Design LLC.

What’s the story behind your designs?

I love humor, puns, and a little bit of kitsch. I enjoy it when people smile at seeing my designs, especially when it took thought to get at that smile. I love it when there is something “to get” about a design. As a student, I had a project where we needed to change the scale or material of an item to thereby change its meaning. I think this continues to inspire me. Cufflinks are one of those things that go back to being a kid, seeing my older brothers, dressed up in french cuff shirts with cufflinks, made me jealous when I was still the little one in a sailor suit for family pictures. I never let go of that desire for cufflinks. It’s a classic way to be formal, and express yourself at the same time. I really like man-cessories.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways? How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I learned CAD as a design student, and then over the course of my career as a designer. It’s always been pretty natural to me. I think my mind thinks in a similar way to CAD software. At one job, we had an Objet 3D printer in house and I was amazed watching it work and what we could get out of it. I naturally gravitated toward cufflinks, and when a colleague pointed me to Shapeways, I knew I had found the perfect home to bring my hobby to the next level. I love french cuff shirts, and even more so cufflinks, and I loved this perfect way to share my creations through my Shapeways Shop. As a designer, it’s a dream to see my ideas come to life without the mess and headache that is mass manufacturing and tooling. I love Shapeways as a medium in that sense. It’s particularly thrilling to see popularity slowly grow just by having items visible to the public on Shapeways. I was even lucky enough to be one of the finalists for the recent Wedding Competition.

How do you promote your work?

Interestingly, for a long time I’ve enjoyed just watching what people naturally gravitated to from my work and seeing what happened. After selling a few pieces and seeing there was potential, I’ve taken to social media and entering contests, as well as partnering with a friend who hand crafts his own cufflinks on his Etsy shop, CuffittWord of mouth has actually been a boost for some of my custom business as well. I’ve been recently contacted by a custom men’s clothier and we are now working to develop a custom cufflink line for his store of sustainable menswear. I also maintain my own site, prero.com, and a couple portfolio sites.

Who are your favorite designers or artists?

Buckminster Fuller is the man when it comes to structure. Claus Oldenburg is the master of playing with material and scale. Dieter Rams for everything he ever touched. Charles and Ray Eames, naturally. Verner Panton and his love of shape and color. Piet Mondrian for his use of color and the grid. In the Shapeways community, I’ve taken inspiration from GothamSmith, as I consider them the kings of Shapeways cufflinks. Their Toasted Barrel cufflinks are superb. Michael Mueller also has some exquisite work and as been kind enough to offer help on a particular project as well, inspired by his Amour Fou Pendant. I also really love DotSan’s use of line weight and space in his animal heads.

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

I still can’t wait to make fully articulating metal parts in a single assembly, with a high finish, in a combination with wood. The notion of things coming from these machines without the need for post production is what I dream about. I cannot wait to create my own timepieces with mixed materials from a 3D printer. I currently wear a Nixon Rotolog, and would love to create something like that with 3D printing.

Anything else you want to share?

I have to thank Shapeways for what you’ve done for designers like myself. I’ve used 3D printing professionally for years now, but it was always far too costly to use personally. With services like Shapeways, I now have that freedom, and it’s opened up so many opportunities, especially to young designers looking to see their design visualized. I’ll actualy be giving a guest lecture on my Shapeways and independent endeavors experience at my alma mater in Chicago next fall!

Check out Gabriels fabulous cufflinks at his Shapeways Shop, and if you’d like to be the next featured designer, email natalia@shapeways.com.

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