Wonderluk is a London-based company that creates “made-to-order” jewellery utilising one of the most interesting technologies today, 3D printing. With a very interesting selection of products and a strong manifesto (Don’t blend in. Ever.) we wanted to know more. We talked to Wonderluk’s co-funder, Roberta Lucca.
Originally from Brazil, Roberta Lucca lives and works in London. Having a background in marketing and the luxury and innovation industry, three years ago she decided to build her own firm so she founded a successful game company with two friends called Bossa Studios. But her entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there, this year she launched Wonderluk, a 3D printed jewellery brand.
El Fashionista: Why did you decide to start a fashion business using 3D printing technology?
Roberta: I’ve always loved fashion. And after working all these years in the game industry, I’ve realized that there are a lot of similarities between the people who work with games and the people who work in fashion, even though they are very distinct, both are much in love about their craft.
By chance, a year ago I bought a 3D printer and I started to feed it with items, seeing how it works and exploring fashion from a totally different perspective.
My innovation brain, with my passion for technology and passion for fashion kind of all got together with the 3D printing opportunity and I said, “well, there is actually an opportunity here, to bring something that is crafted, innovative, and individual to fashion consumers”.
Andre (Schober) and I work together, and after talking about it, we decided to join together to create something for the fashion forward consumer who wants to try fashion accessories in a very different way.
There is also another reason. We all know how the fashion value chain is broken. We know that clothes travel thousands of miles around the world. Only in the U.K there is a 50% of overproduced garments, meaning that everything that you see in stores, out of those everything, 50% will end up not being consumed.
And suddenly, here is a piece of digital information on your screen that you can customise, make individual and make it your own. And that little piece will only exist …if you wish so. It is nothing out there in the wild being pushed to you as a consumer.
E: What I found interesting about your proposal, is that you are bringing a luxury feeling to something that at first glanze would seem too “geeky” to be called luxurious.
R: Exactly, especially when I started out but even now is the same thing. You have some pioneers like Iris Van Herpen and other great designers trying to bring avant-garde, premium couture fashion into 3D printing, but 90% of 3D printing is made by geeks for geeks. And there is nothing wrong with that, but in a sense you end up excluding a lot of people, a lot of women who would love to get a hold of consuming innovative fashion.
E:Tell us a bit about the materials you use. I think a common thought when looking at this kind of products would be “Will it break easily, will it last?”
We use nylon and I must say that the process is really amazing. Here we have basically a massive industrial machine that takes a lot of nylon powder inside it and this nylon get desintegrated. And after all this sintering process (the process of forming a solid mass of material by heat and/or pressure without melting it to the point of liquefaction), through the inputs of the file, which is the design, we removed that chamber of powder and it is like opening a present, a kind of archeological process and all of these beautiful pieces surface out of this powder. Then we do the finishing to make the product look very smooth so that it doesn’t hurt your skin at all, and then we try different colours.
It’s impressive how these materials can make pieces that are super rigid, sturdy and difficult to break, but which at the same time are delicate, like the Tube ring.
E: I see that you put a lot of emphasis in design. I appreciate the different type of styles and designs that you offer. ¿Who designs the pieces?
R: We have a network of seven designers from the UK, from Spain, from Italy and Japan. They are simply amazing, they basically took on a brief I discussed with them and we produce three collections. That is why there is a little bit of something for everyone, there are bolder designs and there are more delicate designs, because we wanted to create very distinctive collections. We have the “Wonder woman” (that’s my inspiration) she is strong, she is there to conquer the world, to be powerful.
E: How did you choose your designs? Having the opportunity to build literally whatever you want, I guess it wasn’t that easy to make up your mind on what was going to be produced.
Could you tell us more how did you make your decisions?
R: We have three collections, Fluid inspired by the fluidity of life, and there are a lot of curves and folds, objects that seem to be soft textiles that of course are hard pieces. Somehow we wanted to create a mix of 2d and 3d pieces, that are an illusion of the eye. Pop Art is basically inspired by the sixties and the pop-art scene. A very playful and colourful collection. Wonder Woman is my special inspiration, strong pieces that say: “I’m powerful, I’m here to conquer the world”.
We went for bold designs because we thought that this what the brand is all about. We wanted to establish something that is beautiful, that is elegant and that really stands out from any other 3d printers collection.
We work very closely together with the designers on the whole process, from the original brief, to the creation of the pieces on the paper, then on 3D on the computer, the whole sampling…Choosing the colours was a very exciting moment for us, because we know how much difference about the perception about what the product is. And finally the tips for styling
E: Can you tell us more about your vision and what kind of product would you like to have in 5 years?
R: Our vision for Wonderluk is to make fashion personal again. It’s really about communicating a message to the world that it is possible to have unique garments and a unique style. We like to call it “co-couture” meaning that you can co-create products together with the designer
What I see for us is to expand into metals, silver and titanium. I see we will be able to create garments. I believe Wonderluk will be able in five year time to bring back to the fashion consumer the ability to have something tailored made at a reasonable cost. They will consume something that is individual to them.
E: I think it is interesting that you are evaluating the option of new materials, because you have to be a bit tech conscious to appreciate these kind of products.
R: Exactly. And because we are in such an early stage of 3d printing and fashion, there is a lot of education that needs to happen. We have been going to a lot of fashion events here in London since we went live nine weeks ago and it’s incredible how people react to that. At first they look at the product and they are amazed, they love the design. And then they touch it and then realize that the texture is very different from the traditional textures you see in fashion accesories out there. And they get really excited when they understand how everything is made. So I think you are right, there is still a bit of education to be done but it’s very exciting.
E: Can you tell me about the biggest challenges you can foresee for your brand?
R: I think that the biggest challenges will have to do with the reassurance of people that this will really change the way people consume things. As you probably know from wearable tech, there is a little fear, ‘will this really work for me?’ Am I’m getting too techy, and not fashionable anymore?’. I think that would be the biggest challenge. But other than that I do see that as long as there are more companies all the opportunities will overcome this pretty quickly. Technology is evolving very rapidly.