Free form designing using Anarkik3D Design haptic 3D modelling programme.

International Jewellery Symposium

International Jewellery Symposium

A 3 day International Jewellery Symposium at the Fashion Institute of Technology in May in New York, in partnership with Politecnico di Milano, will discuss issues surrounding jewelry design and manufacturing, digital v handmade and the shift in recent years with the wider use of computer aided design and 3D printing.

‘….every tool, hand-held or digital—leaves its mark. This symposium will provide an arena for debate on how digital technology and making by hand duel for influence in the aesthetics, the use, and the cultural contexts of jewelry as both a manufactured product and as an applied art form.’

Paper and presentation

One of the strands to be explored is the implications of “digital vs handmade” (their words) and Ann Marie Shillito, CEO of Anarkik3D, will be tackling this in her presentation. Her stance is that neither digital or handmade exclude the other, that digital tools should be designed to facilitate those designer makers who wish to combine digital and handmaking.

She considers that this way of working is important for the future of jewellery. Diversity is one reason, and tackling monoculture issues within the industry is where she wants to get a discussion going. Her questions are two-fold: about whether a designer working with digital designing full time with little or no bench experience ‘plays safe’ and is possibly restricted by their reduced experience working directly with materials and processes to innovate, and whether the designer maker, eschewing digital because the learning curve is too steep, or the CAD aesthetics are seen as too constricting, could bring new forms and ideas to digital working and reap the benefits that digital technologies offer for a more sustainable practice.

3D printed jewellery designed using computer aided design programmes
3D printed jewellery designed using computer aided design programmes

Every jeweller will, she is sure, have their own perspective on these two questions and she would so appreciate your comments to consider for her presentation and paper as these would add balance to the discussion. Please say if you prefer not to be credited for your comments should they be used. She looks forward to hearing from lots of you.

Here is the link to the International Jewellery Symposium site where there is more information and about attending it on May (15th – 17th): http://www.fitnyc.edu/jewelry-design/symposium/.

The International Jewellery Symposium topics:

  • How does digital design and manufacturing influence and intermesh with contexts for jewelry in cultures around the world?
  • Can (or should) the distinctive “tool mark” of digital design and 3D printing overtake the reverence for hand craftsmanship in the perceived quality of jewelry?
  • As many designers, artisans, and manufacturers begin to integrate digital and handmade in their jewelry production, how will valuation be effected and measured?
  • What role does the education of play in the evolution of best practices in design and manufacturing, digital and handmade? Is a hybrid approach viable in the 21st century?

Ann Marie’s abstract:

She has included her abstract below for more context around the questions that her presentation and paper will reference: What role does education play in the evolution of best practices in design and manufacturing, digital and handmade? Is a hybrid approach viable in the 21st century?

“Creative people only engage with digital technology when systems enhance and support them and their practice. Some shelve advantages that digital technologies offer for reasons such as steep learning curves which leave little time for developing hand skills. Interfaces too complex for creative purposes stifle ‘play’. Adapting to different methods of working and interaction are alienating (1 Shillito). To be inclusive education requires means to accommodate variances around digital /handmaking processes, to encourage accessible hybrid approaches, thereby providing best practices in design and manufacturing.

A haptic (virtual 3D touch) 3D modelling package developed by Anarkik3D Ltd was used by a class for digital design at Fife College in Scotland. Students who had tried CAD software were particularly nervous. They were delighted when this programme turned out to be straightforward: “I was initially feeling negative about this class as I have never been great at previous 3D computer designing programs like CAD… It was really easy and enjoyable to just play and experiment. It opened up my eyes to the many possibilities in terms of creating jewellery. I have really loved this class and feel I have picked it up rather quickly.  I will definitely be using it for my samples for my graded unit”. (2 Brogan)

Fife College workshop: some of the digital models created using Anarkik3D Design haptic 3D modelling programme
Fife College workshop: some of the digital models created using Anarkik3D Design haptic 3D modelling programme

Anarkik3D, a spin-out company, developed this haptic 3D modelling package using research findings and specifications from two collaborative projects: Tacitus Research (2000–2004)3 and ‘Hands-on’ Proof of Concept (2004-2006)3.

As a practicing jeweller, ANn Marie became an Edinburgh College of Art Research Fellow to investigate why she struggled with 3D CAD programmes such as Rhino. She instigated ‘Tacitus’ to investigate haptic technology as potentially more intuitive way for applied artists to work digitally in 3D.

It is argued that practice and technology cannot be separated, as practice develops around technologies and technologies are adapted and incorporated into practices (4 Dourish.) Interaction through tools and within a specific context constitutes the basis for gradual expansion of our craft skills and evolution of practice. Interaction between digital systems and users is comparable to that of craftsmen and their tools. (5 McCullough.) This evolution should then include physical and digital settings in a continuum where human techniques and actions are central. Theoretically, digital technology should enrich the practice of applied artists and designers.

Adopting user-centered methodologies (6 Brooke), the emphasis of her collaborative research was on understanding human attributes and real practice. Haptic interfaces are limited in their potential as they cannot replicate the complexity of real life haptic manipulation but can however “support” users and assist interaction within three dimensional environments by providing force feedback. This adds an “experiential” quality to interaction, resulting in improved user experience of the computer interface.

Through this cross-disciplinary approach, the Tacitus team developed specifications for a novel interface. The ‘Hands-on’ project produce a prototype 3D ‘sketch’ application which demonstrated that this coherent multi-modal virtual environment provides a system capable of meeting the needs of applied artists, to naturally support and enrich their creative design process with a more natural and enjoyable way of working.”

Fife College workshop: some of the digital models created using Anarkik3D Design haptic 3D modelling programme
Fife College workshop: some more of the digital models created using Anarkik3D Design haptic 3D modelling programme.