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3D printing – Interview with Roberta Lucca – Wonderluk

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Interview with Kate Unsworth – Kovert Designs – Wearable Tech

From Google glass to apparel with built-in sensory devices, the fashion world is experiencing a transformation towards wearable technology.

Kovert Designs is a fashion conscious company focusing on Wearable Technology by uniting aesthetics and technology. They create ‘Smart accessories’ through the combination of electronic sensors and wireless connections. Formed by Kate Unsworth, Dan Möller, and Fabio Pania, this start-up is based in London (Shoreditch).

This summer they are launching the first 500 units of the “ring”, a wearable and connected device in the form of a piece of jewelry. At first the product will be available only to a select group of influencers in the industry, but a collection of rings, bracelets and necklaces will be available to the general public for the Christmas season and will be on sale at the Kovert website and on Net-a-Porter.

By Spring 2015 Kovert will add additional selling points in all mayor cities and are also planing collaborations with contemporary designers and brands such us ACNE and Rick Owens.

Kate Unsworth, Founder and CEO, took some time to answer our questions and explain her vision to us.

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El Fashionista: Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did to kick-start this project.

Kate: The idea was born in February 2013 when I was working as a technology consultant. I used to write gadget review newsletters on a weekly basis, and about a six months prior, I had begun reviewing wearables products. There were a number of reasons why I felt Silicon Valley was getting it all wrong, both from an aesthetic design perspective and a mass market usability perspective. They were still in the innovation phase, and hadn’t yet begun to think about interesting use cases or commercialization. I knew from day one that this was the product I wanted to build, I just needed to validate that there was actually a market for it.

I spent five months or so doing market research and focus groups, as well as making sure I really had a handle on the technology required to build a wearables product. What I learnt was that there are a number of people who like me, instead of wanting to add more gadgets to their life (such as the new wearable tech products that were coming to market), actually wanted to find a way of managing their existing gadgets so they were less invasive. In fact, they found their technology somewhat annoying and constraining. They wanted to remain connected, but without being distracted from real life interactions. I had found my market.

E: We have all heard a lot of talk about wearable technology but we do not have a very clear idea of what it is apart from Google glass. Please explain to us a little about this concept.

K: The concept of wearable technology is not a new one – it’s been around for 10+ years in some form or another. The difference is that now, battery duration and processing power have vastly improved, allowing us to produce much more useful applications (rather than simply inserting LED lights into clothing). Broadly speaking, at this point in time, wearable tech can be divided into two categories – garments or accessories.  In the accessories space, the majority of players are focusing on health and fitness, and this is likely the direction Apple will also go in with their “iWatch”. The products tend to be worn on the wrist or embedded into clothing and worn near the chest/back, and they monitor everything from heart rate to stress levels and blood glucose levels. At Kovert Designs, we’re taking the concept in a different direction altogether, we want to build social features, that essentially enable you to live a better life.

E: What is the idea behind the Kovert ring?

K: We want to empower people to be able to take a step away from their mobile phone, so that they can stop being distracted, concentrate on real life and live in the moment. Our consumers are sick to death of being overly connected, and want to snap out of autopilot and engage with their technology only as and when they really need to. It’s about making the conscious decision to incorporate your smartphone into your life, rather than letting it force its way in and dominate it. The Kovert jewelry collection (rings, bracelets, necklaces) connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth. It connects to the Kovert app, which allows you to set different profiles for you to activate, e.g.: “Meeting Profile” or “Dinner Profile”. Within each of these profiles, you can choose the notifications for which you want your Kovert jewelry to vibrate and alert you. The idea is that you only choose the most important notifications to filter through, then put your phone in your handbag and go about your day.

E: What is the ring made of and how does it work? 

K: Different precious metals (depending on the collection) and a bespoke ‘tech pack’ with electronics inside (which includes a PCB, battery, bluetooth and a vibration motor).

E: When are you launching the ring and is it going to be available to the general public?,  When and where can we buy it?

K: We launch this summer. The first batch will be sold to select individuals only. Those interested can apply to VIP@kovertdesigns.com and state their reasons for being considered.

E: Are you working in collaboration with other brands or designers?

K: Yes – we are currently in discussions.

E: Looking ahead 3 to 5 years, where do you see Kovert Designs?

K: Collaborating with a number of big designers to produce a vast array of beautiful connected devices that inspire people to live a more fulfilling life.


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Products that support breast cancer awareness

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International Cancer Awareness day is this week, and that is why I gathered just some of the products that donate part of the proceeds to different cancer awareness organizations. Stella&Dot‘s pink collection all net proceeds will go to the Noreen Fraser Foundation. Swarovski’s Pink Hope collection proceeds are donated to the Fundación Fero (Cruciani also collaborates with this foundation). Isabelle Grace donates 70% of the sales to the American Cancer Society. Daniel Espinosa has designed a limited collection of bracelets available in Spain and Mexico, and all proceeds will be donated to Hospital General de la Ciudad de México. An amazing initiative by Women’secret and Dexeus Foundation: a collection of post-surgery bras, specially designed for women who had undergoing breast cancer therapy.

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Carolina Herrera and Carolina are continuing with their international “Fight with a smile” campaign, supporting patients suffering from breast cancer around the world. For the past 5 years, they have backed Iniciativa Ser, a group founded in Latin America to create a solidary community to live through the breast-cancer experience. Check out the website to see how you can collaborate!

Can you think of more products? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

Becker & Co at triitme.com

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Becker & Co is a young brand, based in Madrid, which sells beautiful handmade jewelry designed and manufactured by its founder Irene Becker. I like the explosion of colour and textures you can see in these delicate pieces. The necklaces and bracelets are available in a special sale at triitme.com, an european pop up store/online shop until October 7th.

“I design unique and somewhat daring pieces in which the mixture of natural stones and bright colours resemble to candies and nature reproductions such as insects”

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