This week, we’re putting Brooklyn based designer Austin Robey on the map. New York City is known for its spectrum of personality and we love how Austin Robey’s products capture this very essence. Austin takes concepts that may otherwise be transient or out of sight, such as a winking face or city landscape, and transforms them into bold, tangible creations. In fact, if you take a look at his shop, you can see that his 3D emojis were meant to be held in your hand. He’s also made iPhone cases of popular NYC and Brooklyn neighborhoods, so you and your emojis will never get lost again!
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? Where are you located?
My name is Austin Robey and am located in Brooklyn, NY. I have an academic background in architecture, a professional background in designing jewelry and accessories, and now have a studio called Make Mode, which helps people realize fun and inventive product ideas through digital design and 3D printing. As a side project from our 3D design services, we wanted to make a Shapeways store of some fun products we designed. It’s also called Make Mode.
What’s the story behind your designs? What inspires you?
I am inspired by the immediacy of 3D printing and its ability to help people quickly realize product ideas. It’s definitely a catalyst for innovation. That being said, I also enjoy the challenge of designing products around the limitations of 3D printers (size, material, cost). The idea of producing a product that can be manufactured locally on demand is fascinating. We thought that making 3D emojis would be a fun project because it really represents what is exciting about 3D printing – taking something digital and making it physical.
What brought you to 3D printing with Shapeways?
Shapeways has built an amazing infrastructure to produce and distribute 3D printed products. It’s marketplace allows us to sell products that we could not produce ourselves. It also serves as a useful service for iterative testing of designs.
How did you learn how to design in 3D?
I was introduced to 3D design tools while studying architecture at Pratt Institute. Architecture is great, but working in an architectural practice didn’t interest me, so I applied 3D design tools I learned in academia to other disciplines. I use Rhino, Maya, and Zbrush.
Who are your favorite designers or artists? Who in the Shapeways community has served as an inspiration to you?
I am inspired by the design community in New York City. Two people I know from Pratt Architecture are doing really interesting work: Francis Bitonti and Brad Rothenberg. Joris Laarnman makes very cool digitally fabricated furniture. Also, some designs that are coming from Nike research and development are exciting – like their 3D printed duffel bag.
If you weren’t limited by current technologies, what would you want to make using 3D printing?
If it wasn’t so expensive, I would want to design and print my furniture. Or maybe 3d print some more 3d printers.