3D Printing has created and will continue to create new opportunities for designers all around the world. One very important opportunity is to be able to ingrain sustainability in the design and production processes, in addition to having access to new aesthetic and material options. So we are excited to feature french designer Alice Cabotse, who created Alice Etcaetera and who works everyday at the intersection of design and eco-consciousness as part of her mission. Alice has been harnessing the opportunities offered by 3D Printing for several of her collections. Nonetheless, her design approach still retains elements of traditional craftsmanship, and this blend of technology and time-tested methods is also an exciting innovation playground for designers. And while Alice is a designer now, she was actually a scientific major in high school, and she pursued her studies internationally! So we are all the more excited to discuss her study choices and her work with her!
Cyant: You finished high school with a scientific baccalaureate (French SATs), and then decided to study art and design. What compelled you to follow that route? Were you always interested in both or was there a specific moment that made you change direction?
Alice: I wanted to be a designer since the age of 12, when I discovered that you could earn a living drawing & creating ideas : it was called graphic design. By the age of 14 I knew it was possible to also "draw" everyday objects, furniture, cars, trains... it was called industrial design & sounded just amazing ! So knowing I wanted to be a "3 dimensional designer". I chose to do a scientific baccalaureate, as I didn't know if I will prefer to be in the engineer or artistic side of design. When I was 18, I moved to London to discover if I was good at itand followed a year of Foundation Studies in Art & Design at the London Metropolitan University. By the end of that year, I chose the more "artistic" side of design & started a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Product Design at the Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication. I have been loving every part of this new world, with endless possibilities, new horizons & freedom to create with the power of imagination !
Cyant: How did you start to use 3D Printing? What has it enabled you to do that was new in your design and production process?
Alice: I started working with 3D printing technologies in 2010 when I created my own collection of silver jewellery made in France & named “Grigris”.
As I did not have the know-how to produce my own wax originals (classic jewellery making process), I decided to imagine a new production process mixing contemporary technology with classic craftsmanship. I designed and 3D printed my originals (in laser sintering polyamide powder) then gave them to my open-minded craftsman to transform them - with his traditional Silversmith skills - into beautiful solid silver unique rings (classic "lost wax" technique & hand-polished).
3D printing gave me a new freedom as a designer : it allowed me to materialize exactly the form I imagined and created with the modeling software into a solid object.
Cyant: Which 3D Printing technologies have you been using throughout your work?
Alice: I used 3D printed laser sintering polyamide powder to generate the originals of the silver jewelry collection “Grigris”. I also utilized 3D printed ceramic by scupteo.com to create the tableware collection “Essentielle". Throughout my work, I use 3D modeling software (e.g. Rhinoceros) to design my creations.
Cyant: Did you have to work with experts in other fields to achieve what you wanted?
Alice: No, not so far, as one of the quality of a Designer is to be like a sponge : to analyze and understand production processes, in order to get a global view & create with the constraints.
Cyant: How are you using 3D Printing to make an environmental impact? Or put in a differently how is 3D Printing playing a part in your eco-consciousness mission/goals?
Alice: 3D printing is a precious tool to develop new virtuous - environmental, social & local - business models with no stock “made to order” and also “made to measure” concepts.This means, we can design infinitely but rapidly produce a limited stock based on customer demand, requests and interests. So, this fast technology allows to create a diversity of tailored & unique sustainable solutions.
Cyant: You marry traditional crafts with 3D Printing. Can you give examples of your work that showcase that aspect? Is it a difficult balancing act, or is there a natural blending between the two methods of design and production? Does it require a different thinking and design process, innovating on the technology side?
Alice: I am very much influenced by Japanese aesthetic, Scandinavian design and the Art Déco period : I love “warm minimalism”. I am very much inspired by a quotation of Charlotte Perriand, collaborator of Le Corbusier and major French woman designer from the XXth century. Her ambition was “the sincere and constant research around a way of life connected to its time”. So "Natural blending" would be answer, as simplicity & harmony are keywords in my work. Designing a new jewelry making method gave me the freedom to imagine a collection of 24 different rings "Grigris", also designing a unique experience: a series of small architectures for the body, pieces of solid silver, raw, smooth, ultra polished and golden shimmers, to be composed freely and made to measure. This let me offer variations of material and dimension which can be juxtaposed endlessly. I combined 3D printing and traditional silversmithing, and an innovative detail about the "Grigris"jewelry, was that I chose to show the printing stratums "mystery lines" in the final silver rings (raw silver versions) as a contemporary & minimalist way to create "naturally" decorative engraving.
"Essentielle" is a tableware set in 3D printed ceramic which was printed locally by the French 3D printing service company Sculpteo.com. This collection is composed of three universal functions to eat & drink: a plate, a bowl and a cup, that can be stacked up into a compact form, for everyday use.Following my sustainability goal, the ceramic set is made to order online in a choice of 8 colours, creating a new sustainable economic model with no stock.
Like the jewelry collection "Grigris", "Essentielle" tableware is the result of mixing high contemporary technology with classic craftsmanship. Designed and printed in 3D ceramic (laser sintering specific compound powder original), then glazed at more than 1 000°C (classic ceramic enamel technique). I love this dialogue between old & new... "roots & wings".
Cyant: What advice do you have for young Cyantists who would like to work on eco-conscious design projects?
Alice: To think "good loop" design - to source eco-labeled primary materials (biodegradable or recycled & recyclable or durable & repairable...) and to think about local productions "made to order" to be carbon neutral - referring to the Cradle to Cradle eco-systems and values.
Last but not least "design with Love" !
Thanks Alice for this great advice! We are also grateful for the photos Alice provided who are credited to photographer Claude Weber. And you can find out more about Alice’s work at: www.aliceetcaetera.com !