Designer Spotlight: Summer Powell

This weeks Designer Spotlight focuses on Summer Powell, a lover of dichotomies, who is inspired by the intersection of body and technology, the natural and artificial; Summer’s jewelry lives on the continuum of quirky to profound.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?

My name is Summer Powell. I’m a San Francisco-based jeweler and designer, creating fun, geometric fashion jewelry in 3D printed media. As an artist, I’ve always mixed medias and technologies, whether creating a vacuum-formed case for VH1 or temporary technological tattoos for teens.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you? 

For me, designing in 3D is like drawing in space, there’s a poetry to it. I play at the intersection of art, technology, nature, and fashion, with the freedom to veer toward the silly or the sublime. I’m obsessed with symbols, patterns, and geometry, whether I’m inspired by video game graphics, a hieroglyph, a Cartier masterpiece, digital clock typography, or the structure of a succulent plant. I love the idea that a shape or symbol can hold meaning and power, and that a shape’s framework alone can define the space it holds. For example, in Greek temples, it’s the columns that define the space, and form the boundary between inside and out, yet air can flow freely through the framework. I feel that my designs define space in a similar way.

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
I almost became a metal sculptor, but I chose graphic design because of my love of pattern, symbol and typography. Designing for 3D printing allows me to unite those loves. Shapeways is easy to work with, and has the quality level and price that gives me the freedom to realize my creations in the way I want to.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?

I taught myself CAD to create 3D printed sculptures. My first assignment to myself was to create a wireframe diamond in Rhino. My creation became the first Summerized jewelry piece, the Rock Star Diamond, which was first an earring, and is now also available as a ring and a pendant. From there, my jewelry collection progressed along with my learning.

How do you promote your work?
I share everything on social media: from images of the jewelry itself on Instagram, to my creation process on Facebook, to what’s inspiring me that day on Pinterest and Twitter! But also just wearing the jewelry almost always sparks conversations. Summerized has been featured on Fab.com, in the San Francisco Chronicle, and on TechCrunch.com, among others. 
Who are your favorite designers or artists? 
I’m fortunate to live near the inspiring and undulating geometric/organic forms of Renzo Piano’s new California Academy of Sciences building. I also love the brilliant, baroque pastiche of Freddie Mercury and Queen; Julie Mehretu’s epic, layered organic/geometric paintings, and the fusion of modern and tribal themes in Mara Hoffman’s clothing. I really admire Nervous System’s forms and methodology too!
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
I’d love to print lighting and sculptures with integrated circuitry and LEDs in unique, sculptural shapes. I want to create large-scale environmental sculpture. It would be great to see more green options for 3D printing too.

Check out Summer’s geometric jewelry on her Shapeways Shop or her website. And if you’d like to be the next featured designer, email natalia@shapeways.com.

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