One of the biggest challenges in the fashion industry is to discover 'newness' amidst the cycle of often recycled ideas. It takes a certain drive to create something out of the ordinary knowing there's a risk in the race to stay ahead of the trends. Fairina Cheng, the 29 year old designer, who owns her eponymous jewellery label may have predicted the future of accessories: 3D printed jewellery. It's no wonder with the rapid advancement in technology, that 3D printed pieces might be creeping its way into our wardrobes in the near future changing how we perceive and wear fashion. After all, the 'message is in the medium'.
Understated and untraditional, Fairina Cheng Jewellery won Community's Choice at the 2014 Etsy Design Awards and is part of the Etsy at David Jones Marketplace from the 4 to 7 December. Here Cheng talks about her label and her love affair with computer-aided design.
|Designer Fairina Cheng|
1. How did you get into jewellery design?
I was working long hours at a full time office job and I enrolled in an evening jewellery course. At that point I was just curious, but it wasn’t long before I fell absolutely in love with the process of manipulating metal.
Soon after, I enrolled in a two-year contemporary jewellery design course, followed by a three-year course in commercial jewellery manufacture. I’m not the kind of person to take big risks. So diving head first into a massive career shift was a bit out of character. It just felt right!
2. Where did the idea to create 3D printed jewellery come from?
In my second year of studying jewellery, we were introduced to computer aided design as one of our subjects. It was fascinating to learn how designs are drawn up on a computer, and especially fascinating to learn how they are brought into their final, three-dimensional form. My experiments during this time led to the development of the Negative/Positive collection!
|Rings from the Negative/Positive Collection|
3. Where do you get inspiration from?
Sometimes I’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of an interesting shape or line and it’ll stay in my head and influence my next design. Or I’ll be experimenting on a piece of jewellery and evolve it as I go. Sometimes I start with one idea and by the time I’m finished it’s a completely new design!
|Background/Foreground stainless steel mesh stud earrings|
4. Describe your design aesthetic.
Clean and geometric. Although a few free flowing, organic pieces sneak their way in!
5. What are some metals you work with when creating the pieces?
I work mostly in silver and gold. But I don’t believe that jewellery should be restricted to just precious metals and gemstones, especially when there are so many interesting materials out there to explore.
I also work in stainless steel mesh, a material commonly used in industrial applications. It comes in a shimmery grey silver colour and develops a vibrant range of gold, bronze, pink, purple and royal blue hues when heat is applied.
6. Can you explain the 3D printing process?
First, a design is drawn up on the computer using a 3D modelling program. The file is then sent to the printer and built layer by layer in wax to create a scale model of the piece. On some machines, the model is created in resin and solidified with the help of a laser.
The printing process usually takes a few hours. The model is then cast into your metal of choice. Where possible, I have a mould made so additional pieces can be created quickly and easily without having to be reprinted.
Often I’ll handmake components such as ring bands and earring posts, before meticulously polishing, packaging and sending the finished gem off to its new owner.
|Jeweller's bench: Behind-the-scenes|
7. What do you think is the future of accessories, or fashion as a whole, and how does your label fit into that?
3D design has opened up opportunities to really push the boundaries and create jewellery that would be almost impossible to make by hand alone.
As the technology advances, the power to customise products will increasingly be put into the hands of the everyday shopper. Instead of going to a shop and buying a premade, standard size item off the rack, perhaps we’ll soon be able to go onto their website and tailor a dress or pair of shoes to the perfect fit in minutes!
It’s exciting to see how fast technology is advancing and I really look forward to seeing its future applications in the world of design.
By Sharon Jiang