aoku3D_logo_beta3D printing has become instrumental in archiving many different works of art around the world, from saving and allowing the 3D printing of ancient pieces in private collections to 3D scanning pieces from Babylon, as well as helping recreate originals and replicas senselessly destroyed by ISIS—and allowing the public to 3D print them too.

Now, 3D printing is being used in a number of firsts to recognize and enter the work of Nguyen Tu Nghieminto into posterity through a line of custom jewelry inspired by gouache paintings. This will be a first for company aoku3D, made up of a group of designers and artists who will be co-developing and marketing the jewelry, which is indeed to be mainly 3D printed.

UntitledKnown as ‘Nghiem,’ this artist is extremely important in that he is known as the last living master of Vietnamese modern art. Considered a national treasure, this artist was one of the last graduates of Ecole des Beaux Art of Hanoi (École Supérieure des Beaux Arts de l’Indochine) in 1945. Shortly after, he began experimenting and mastering painting with lacquer, employing a simple style harkening back to the old greats of his culture. As his work evolved, he moved into painting Zodiac animals of the Chinese lunar calendar—the inspiration for this contemporary project—as they celebrate his simple and colorful style.

This project will also show off a first between East and West partnering, a first as art reverts back into craft, and a first as 3D technology is used for the end product in making the vibrant Zodiac jewelry. Inspired by his work, each designer involved in the project will create up to three different designs of jewelry in the form of rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets or accessories.

UntitledEach piece will be 3D printed but will also include some handcrafting—with a maximum of only 50 made of each design. These limited edition pieces will be marketed around the world and a crowdfunding effort will be underway soon, most likely via Indiegogo. They plan to offer other unique marketing ideas as well, like short weekly videos of the designers to be released as they discuss their work, along with trunkshows and other presentations.

The designers, to be announced, will be sought out by aoku, founded in 2014 and centered around an e-boutique of premium 3D printed and handcrafted arts & crafts connecting artist-designers with ‘enthusiastic consumers worldwide.’ They state that their target market is that of ‘affluent professionals’ who are shopping for that special person in their lives. Their mission is the promotion and integration of art, craft, and technology, with their vision being personalization on demand.

“Close to the heart of [the] co-founders of aoku is the process–and fun–of discovering around the globe artist-designers of distinct talent, offering one-of-a kind products of unparalleled beauty,” states the aoku team. “Our discovery process is often by accident rather than design; this is certainly true in the case of our connecting with many of our designers some of whom we had not met while others have become good friends and partners. It is this kind of joy of discovery that we love to share with our friends and supporters.”

UntitledThe project is supported by Galerie La Vong owner Shirley Hui, a long time friend of Nghiem. As a private collector of Vietnamese modern art, for decades, Hui owned his works, and allowed pieces such as “Ancient Dancers” by Nghiem (painted in 1968) to be featured in Time magazine in 1996. The piece was then on loan to Christie’s for a special exhibition with the Singapore Art Museum from June-August 2000. By that time, he was recognized as a master and had won numerous prizes and exhibitions around the world, including permanent collections in the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, Hanoi, and the Fine Arts Museum of Odessa.

This project will serve as the test for the viability of aoku’s business model, with the Zodiac jewelry being marketed toward the premium gift market, expecting price tags spanning from $125-$600 USD. It will be marketed mainly toward the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, with a crowdfunding campaign expected to launch in the late part of the second quarter of this year. What do you think of this new business model? Tell us in the 3D Printed Zodiac Jewelry forum over at 3DPB.com.

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