The way that human beings decorate their bodies has long been a significant component of both individual expression and social identity. People have found a myriad of ways to express ideas, stature, and personalities through various modifications of painting (makeup and tattoos), costume (masks and clothing), and jewelry (rings and piercings). The messages and meanings of these adornments continually shift, but they are no less prominent today than they ever were.
The use of jewelry as a method of self-expression is stronger than ever in many of today’s societies. The West in particular seems to hold a fascination for objects that reflect the user back to her/himself, such as nameplates, monogrammed objects, and personalized electronics. Trove was created as a platform in which people could create customized products, specifically jewelry, encouraging more than just passive marking of their adornments. Instead of just adding a finishing touch, such as a name, users actively engage in the very design of the pieces in order to create something uniquely theirs.
“Our goal is to make the design and creation of beautiful things available to anyone,” the team behind Trove says. “We believe that diversity in people should be reflected in diversity in design, and that everyone should be able to create unique objects that fit into their lives. Starting with jewelry, we want to see designed goods as varied as the people who use them.”
This interest in designing objects as a way of distinguishing among individuals has swelled as the possibilities for it provided by 3D printing become more and more accessible to an ever growing audience. Prior to this democratization of creation, only the very wealthy could afford to have the objects that populate their lives be the products of their own design ideals. Using traditional manufacturing techniques, the idea of mass customization, offering a few specific choices to customers, opened the door to the idea of deep personalization. With advanced manufacturing techniques, the doors are not only open, they’ve been blown off their hinges.
The idea behind Trove began in New York City when the three founders, Brian Park, Andrew Hong, and Tim Growney, started working to understand how 3D printing could be made more relevant to people’s daily lives, rather than just being a tool for professional makers or hardcore tinkerers.
“Trove allows users to customize, try on, and buy personalized jewelry. Users can browse through a variety of design templates and use our intuitive in-browser customization software to personalize their jewelry to perfectly fit their style,” they explain. “Once satisfied with their design, users can have their jewelry prototyped for free to ensure the fit and design. Upon approval, the design can be 3D printed in materials ranging from sterling silver to 18K gold and have their unique jewelry shipped directly to them in a matter of weeks.”
Of course, there is a social aspect to this as well, as that is another prominent component of the 3D printing culture that helps to differentiate it from traditional making. As users create their designs, that design then is released into the general pool of available design ideas for the next user to further customize. In this way, a continual stream of evolving designs flow through the system, keeping it fresh and ready to provide inspiration whether to the novice just dipping in their toes or the seasoned swimmer looking for their next challenge.
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