What if we’ve been approaching the stylus, that instrument that carries the handwriting era into the touchscreen present, all wrong? Alvaro Uribe wondered the same thing. The Brooklyn-based, Colombian product designer and his eponymous studio, Alvaro Uribe Studio, answered the question with a new kind of thoroughly contemporary stylus. One that would use artistic inspiration, state-of-the-art manufacturing, and user-centered logic to deliver an unprecedented, though familiar tool.
You may have seen Alvaro Uribe Studio’s products in stores, films, and basically every design magazine in existence. But until 2015, their 3D printing usage was limited to prototyping. The Onda Stylus represents this new era of offering fully finished, primarily 3D printed objects. We talked with Alvaro about how additive manufacturing is transforming creativity, the changing perceptions of 3D printing, and simple genius of his latest creation.
“Utilizing this technology has given us the ability to realize designs which otherwise would have been a production nightmare.”
Tell us a bit about your studio, what you do, and what interests you about 3d printing.
Alvaro Uribe Design is a Brooklyn-based studio dedicated to create expressive statements for everyday products.
3D printing was once a tool to test products before they were tooled and produced. However, today it is empowering creatives to make their own products. Not only are designers able to receive quick feedback while changing and updating designs without any additional costs, but they are also creating a new market where the designer is in direct communication with the end user. Our studio believes this dialogue with our users is the future of brands and new design icons. Utilizing this technology has given us the ability to realize designs which otherwise would have been a production nightmare.
What inspired you to design a 3D printed Onda Stylus?
We wanted to create a product that elevated the user’s perception of 3D Printing, reflecting the nature of the material and the production process with the form, and that is how the Onda design was born. A typical stylus, functionally, is an evolution of a pen that retains a solid tube-like form as it were to hold an ink refill. When designing Onda, we wanted to revolutionize the product, reducing the structure to the crucial elements of a stylus, while maintaining its image of a writing tool and keeping it light and comfortable for the hand.
“3D printing was once a tool to test products before they were tooled and produced. However, today it is empowering creatives to make their own products.”
What materials are the pens made from and how did you choose those materials?
Stainless steel and steel-bronze alloy gave the design the strength we needed. Its conductive capacity allowed the functionality of the product by passing the user’s capacitance to the tip and subsequently onto the screen. 3D printed steel gives the stylus a unique textured finish; we are inviting the user to interact with this new material that offers tactility and durability.
How did you come up with the form of the pen?
The design came to life from multiple inspirations, but most directly by MC Escher’s “Bond of Union” series. We were fascinated by the idea of unfolding objects three-dimensionally, to reveals its interior, make them lighter and give them a sense of endlessness.
Has your studio created other 3D printed designs in the past?
In 2015 we created a set of lamps utilizing additive 3D Printing in PLA. Just like the Onda, the Mushroom Lights studied how to use printing technology to create new patterns and experiences in products. As you light up each lamp, a magical and elemental pattern appears through the surface. These patterns commonly used to give structure to 3D prints are celebrated in this collection as part of the design.
How have you worked with Shapeways?
Shapeways has been a great tool for both prototyping and creating our first branded products. For our clients’ projects we use Shapeways to test the proportions, strength and other aspects of the products we design before sending them out for production. For our studio, it has allowed us to start selling our own designs without having to worry about the investment in tooling or inventory. The Onda Stylus is our first product on the store, and we have had great response from all users.
“Shapeways has been a great tool for both prototyping and creating our first branded products.”
What else is your studio working on?
We are currently growing our 3D Printed line to include a bottle opener, a corkscrew, and two lines of jewelry that we are super excited about. In all of these we are always looking at new ways to use the technology in such a way that users can proudly use it or wear it as a symbol of avant-garde design.