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Design Thinking: JK3D

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

In Graduate School, one of the buzzwords professors love to discuss is "Design Thinking." Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding (Dam and Siang). Design Thinking enables a company to understand consumer needs to serve their audience better. For this project, I contacted different companies to learn how the organizations apply Design Thinking to their market offerings. I spoke with Julia Koerner to learn more about her work.

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

1. How did your interests in architecture and fashion converge?

For me, fashion is architecture on a smaller scale. I have a background in architecture and use architectural design processes in my work. I work with computational and digital design techniques. In the computer the scale does not really matter only once you make the designs physical and tangible, however the 3D printing technique is scalable. I enjoy thinking of the body as my ‘building site’ on a micro-scale.

(Julia Koerner, ARID Collection, Re-FREAM Project Digital Vogue 2020, Photography by Ger Ger.)

2. What makes a 3D-printed garment or accessory different from a traditionally made one?

3D - printing is a great opportunity because there are no limitations regarding geometry and complexity, I can create designs which do not look handmade. Computational design tools and 3d printing allow us to more accurately emulate patterns and processes found in the natural world.

Nature is my primary source of inspiration. Growth processes, patterns, structure, material performance and life cycle are an endless field of inspiration. For example, the recently launched Lamella Series is inspired by the lamellas and gills of fungi. The ripples vary in depth and gradient and blend together towards the top and bottom of the shapes, they emphasize the uniqueness of natural objects, where no two are alike. I used this inspiration also for the Hy Clutch and Hymenium Jacket.

(Julia Koerner Collaboration with Costume Designer Ruth Carter_Black Panther_Photography Marvel Disney_2018)

3. How can 3D printing benefit sustainability efforts?

3D printing is already a sustainable manufacturing method as such: Because you only use the material that is needed. I also design specifically for each technology and optimize designs for each individual technology. There is also the opportunity to use plant-based, biodegradable, or recycled materials.

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

What I also find extremely important is that with 3D printing you can produce on demand. With our HY Clutch and KELP Mini, for example, we produce the product locally in our studio in LA for requests from the US and in Vienna for European customers. This also ensures local production and reduces the shipping footprint.

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

4. How do you incorporate your mission and vision into your work (both architecture and fashion)?

My message is: “The future is now”.- Julia Koerner

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

We must think about what we can do now, what possibilities we have now and how we can implement ideas now if we want to disrupt traditional production processes and be a sustainable brand. I don't believe in predictions, but more in direct implementation. Again, nature is very important to me. Because if we look at how miracles are created naturally, we can learn from them, in order to let things, grow the way nature does. We must produce sustainably to bring together a cycle in which not only can we survive, but also all animals and plants. In my opinion, 3D printing, and biomimicry play a major role in this.

(Image courtesy of JK3D)

5. What advice would you give to students and young professionals who want to begin a career in either architecture or fashion?

I am teaching at the University of California in Los Angeles in the Architecture and Urban Design Department and for me it is important to challenge the thoughts and designs of my students beyond architecture.

I think what I try in my teaching is to not only to make sure they know the basics but to think beyond what's there. In each student, I try to find their unique interests. I want to help find their way rather than implying my own strategy or thought process onto them. My approach is to try and see what they are up to. To tickle out what they are interested in specifically and help them grow from that.


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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