Like most children, I was always fascinated by space when I was younger. I pored over science books to learn more about it, especially entranced by the pictures of planets, galaxies and supernovas. Ultimately I would major in the arts when I went to college, but I never lost that fascination with the cosmos, and some of the art I find most beautiful is that which is inspired by the skies.
Fashion designer Laura Thapthimkuna also finds beauty and fascination in the cosmos. After graduating from The International Academy of Design and Technology, she found a way to channel her love of science into her artistic career by designing clothing inspired by scientific and natural elements. Her previous works have been based on everything from landscapes to bacterial processes. When she discovered 3D printing, her opportunities for creation became much wider.
“In the past, I always felt limited by fabric,” says Thapthimkuna. “So when I discovered 3D printing, it became kind of an open door to limitless possibilities of what I could do and how I could create these designs in ways that I never was able to in the past.”
Now Thapthimkuna is aiming to create her first fully 3D printed dress, which she calls the Vortex Dress. She has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds needed to print the dress, which was inspired by the cosmos.
“My fascination with the universe was the driving force behind the vortex dress,” she says. “I began researching artistic interpretations of how the combination of space and time creates the fourth dimension and how it’s affected by black holes. I was very inspired by the vortex like shapes seen in renderings and the unfathomable complexity of the theories behind it.”
The dress was designed using Zbrush, with the help of UK-based 3D designer Stephen Ions. Together they designed a twisting, surreal garment that calls to mind, as Thapthimkuna puts it, “the spiraling and continual twisting of space and time.”
To make the dress wearable, Thapthimkuna has been working with New York artist and designer Patrick Delorey to engineer details like closure mechanisms and proper fit.
“3d printing allows for tremendous design freedom, but all the traditional questions of fashion design still apply – how does this
garment sit on the body? How does the model put it on? etc,” says Delorey. “These issues don’t necessarily present themselves in the digital model. The designer must imagine the final product as a physical object that is subject to force and movement. What is novel, however, is that additive manufacturing allows the designer to deal with these issues in customized, specific ways that align with the design vocabulary of the garment rather than working against it. Working together with Laura, we’ve been able to craft solutions that allow her work to be materialized as closely as possible to her imagination.”
The dress will be printed by i.materialise using paintable resin and, in the final step of the process, will be airbrushed in black hi-gloss clear coat with help from California color studio Creations ‘n Chrome. Thapthimkuna’s vision for the final product is “a sleek futuristic appearance mimicking black holes in space.”
To cover the costs of producing the dress, Thapthimkuna is aiming to raise $9,000 through Kickstarter. The campaign runs through October 22nd, and backers can show their support through donations that will in turn reward them with thanks, renders, shadowboxes, or even scale models used in the design process.
“When I see it for the first time on a live model, I will feel so proud of the fact that I was able to take a design in my head and fully realize it to potential by using 3D printing technology,” she says. “It will be an amazing feeling to know that it was possible.”