One of the things I’m finding as I wander the nation is that entrepreneurial ventures are almost always a mix of the old with the new. While some might argue that their new “gadget” or “creation” is brand new, disruptive, democratizing (meaning, I guess, that it breaks you free of whatever tyranny you are under), or choose the buzzword du jour that fits – the best endeavors recognize and build on the past, leverage the work done by those who came before them.
“No man is an island” – a famous line from poet John Donne
Cameron and Rebecca Stern of Stern Design Works represent this mix of past and present perfectly. They blend traditional metalworking skills with 3D printing – powered, in part, by the Autodesk 123D Creature app. I’ve played with this app a few times, but not having the serious art chops that Cameron possesses – well, let’s just say that I created some very interesting looking blobs. Take a look at the gallery photos here to see some of his wonderful ideas brought to digital life, and then visit the website to see those creations molded back into real life, into analog form. Cameron told me that he can now design a new product whenever the mood strikes, on the subway or at the park with his daughter. He can take out his iPad and start pulling and pushing – to “pop an idea out into the wild” in record time.
I met Cameron at his Chelsea Market location (Westside of Manhattan) where he and his wife, Rebecca, have a booth. They are specifically in the “Artists and Fleas” community market that is part of the Chelsea Market. We then made our way to his Brooklyn studio where they explained how they create their different products. Again, in a space that is very much a community of other artists, jewelry makers, and designers – in a co-working type environment. One of Cameron’s favorite parts of the community is the swap table where artists leave stuff they no longer want – a veritable treasure chest of tools and products.
With over seven years in business, and a deep appreciation for the community that has supported them, they have created a thriving company that employs several people who are equally passionate about meshing tradition with modern methods. They have hired sculptors and illustrators to build out their studio in addition to other metalsmith experts.
Rebecca has traditional metalsmith training, which guides a good portion of their jewelry work, but they are constantly testing and combining 3D printing with lost wax casting (a very well-known and longstanding method of metal casting). They are also creating these “inspired by biology” creations that are meant to show what you might see if you looked at the world through a microscope – and they preserve that art with an environmentally-friendly resin (photos in gallery).
Watch this short video where Cameron shares his passion for creating with new tools, new apps, but not losing touch with “the hand aspect,” as Rebecca told me. This couple has built a successful business that serves as an inspiration to artists and makers everywhere because they are merging digital design with molten metal, so to speak, and the results are quite impressive.
The MakerBot blog has a great step-by-step post on how to use 123D Creature and Meshmixer to prepare your digital creation for 3D printing on the MakerBot. If you are not interested in printing your “creature,” you can take it into 3DS Max to produce your own animations. Rodrigo Assaf shows you how in this post: 123D Creature – 3DS Max. You can also watch Adam Beamish’s YouTube video, in time lapse mode, as he creates the Candy Monster that you might have seen when you first loaded the 123D Creature app.
One of the best ways to keep up with Stern Design Works is via Instagram and Facebook where they post frequently about how they make most of their creations. They share a lot of how they do what they do – building trust and loyalty by maintaining transparency. Consumers want unique products and the Sterns are providing it through a daily and weekly stream of fun and lively content.
Follow along at 3drv.com! #3DRV ■