Designer Spotlight: Idoya Lahortiga and Luk Cox

This week we are highlighting somersault18:24, a duo who is combining their love of science and design to come up with some amazing pieces. Their shop is a window into a microscopic world that, without their creative minds paired the precision of 3D printing, we otherwise would not be able to see… none the less wear as beautiful jewelry.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
Luk: I’m Luk, I live in Diest, Belgium. I’m a former research scientist, but recently moved for 100% to somersault18:24. somersault18:24 is my creative outlet to combine science and art, my 2 biggest passions.
Idoya: And I am Idoya, the Spanish half of somersault18:24. I live in Leuven, Belgium where I still work as a research scientist. somersault18:24 is the way to express my passion for art and science in a creative way.

What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
Our designs are all science-inspired. We both have a deep-rooted science interest and passion. Moreover, we are fortunate to witness cutting edge science every day and want to translate this fascinating world into everyday objects and accessories. Our first attempt is a collection of science-inspired jewelry. For example, this neuron-pendant represents one of the millions of nerve cells we all have in our body. But right at this moment, we are exploring new possibilities to make science reachable and accessible for everybody. Besides this, we know that many research scientists love to wear accessories that identify them with their profession. It is something to be proud of indeed. Also, we started working on educational models; we would like to reach students from any age, from primary school to university. People like to see and touch things, why not make the “building of a cell” real?

What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
We started experimenting back in 2008-2009. Not sure what brought us here, but as innovation fanatics and technology freaks we were immediately sold. However, it took us a while to get the ball rolling. Shapeways offers a platform to sell and promote our designs. It is easy to set up a shop to reach customers around the globe without having to worry about shipping and handling. We witnessed Shapeways grow into a nice solid company, and this is very stimulating.

How did you learn how to design in 3D?
We are 100% self taught. Inspired by the beautiful scientific animations in 3D we picked up Blender and started learning the process of 3D modeling ourselves, mainly via the online tutorial series of Blender Cookie and Blender Guru. Recently we’ve added Z-brush to the package.

How do you promote your work?
We promote our work mainly via social media and email. We are very fortunate to have raving fans on Facebook that help us grow our social media presence. This gives us an excellent platform to promote our designs with sweepstakes and competitions. Recently we also had a small success on Reddit, it drove at least 5-6K visitors to our shop.
But our most important promotion medium is email, this is where we create the closest and best connections with our audience. Our email subscribers are very important to us.

Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
We follow some designers at Shapeways and other environments, like Nervous System, with their amazing jewelry and Michiel Cornelissen, a designer always ready to make daily objects beautiful.

If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
We would probably go for complete reconstructions of microscopic elements of the human body, like cells for examples. Our current understanding is way too simplistic. Cells are very intricate and it would be fantastic to bring this complexity alive with 3D printing. This could be of great educational value.

Thanks so much for the lovely interview! We cannot wait to see what other scientific wonders you bring to life. Don’t forget to support somersault18:24 on their site, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. If you’d like to be featured, please email aimee @ shapeways.com!

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