News and Trends

3-D Design In SA


Early last week lovers of  both 3-D printing and literature everywhere swooned as the first ever 3-D printed book cover was revealed. A beautiful example of how this revolutionary technology can be immersed into every day living (and design!), Korean-American author Chang-rae Lee’s acclaimed dystopian novel On Such a Full Sea is one book we’re excited to get our hands on. To create the graphic cover, publishers Riverhead Books partnered with 3-D printer producers Makerbot, an experiment in popularising book covers (in the world of ebooks) once again, as well as in bringing literature into the realm of cutting-edge design. As 3-D printing continues to evolve in the world of fashion, design, art and literature, we chat to one of South Africa’s pioneering 3-D artists, Michaella Janse van Vuuren, to gain insight into the future of 3-D printing in the country... Your work involves a mix of disciplines including science, art and design. How do these different aspects come together in your work? Science, art and design have been artificially ‘boxed’ into different categories. From a young age we are labelled as ‘arty’ or ‘the engineer’, but so many talents are latent; we only discover other loves as adults when we explore a world wider than that of our childhood. I was an ‘arty’ child, but in my early twenties I discovered a love for science and engineering. When I tried to combine them, all I found is a no-man’s land between the disciplines. Three dimensional printing and drawings are tools that allow me to bridge the gap. I love that the projects I am involved with centre around my drawings. That art is used as a method of communication between different disciplines such as engineering and software design. Why is 3-D printing important to design? A lot of future design will be 3-D printed. From art to design to product development, the shoes you wear and the consumer products you buy. This technology is busy revolutionising the manufacturing industry. It has been dubbed the third industrial revolution and for good reason. All these products will have to be digitally designed for both for function and aesthetics. Good design will become so much more important as bad design can be realised just as quickly with the click of a button. How is 3-D printing progressing in South Africa? (Do you think we’ll be printing book covers in 3-D soon?) We have had the technology to print book covers for years, it has just been used more in the research institutions. My 'Chrysanthemum' centrepiece was printed in South Africa in 2009 sponsored by Prof Deon de Beer, who at that stage was head of the Center for Research and Policy Making in Bloemfontein. Will 3-D printing be in the spotlight as part of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014?  Absolutely. I am organising the Agents of the 3-D Revolution exhibition and seminars in Cape Town as part of GUILD. It is a wonderful opportunity for people to see some of the best 3-D printed designs in the world and to come and listen to the experts talk about the technology. Any designers working in 3-D at the moment that we should be watching? Nervous Systems, Joshua Harker and Nick Ervinct. Michaella Janse van Vuuren is currently working on a 3D fashion piece for the New York 3-D Printshow Catwalk (13-15 February 2014). WATCH: Designing a 3D printed slipcase for Chang-rae Lee's novel 'On Such a Full Sea' (via Makerbot)