London College of Fashion's Fashion Space Gallery is currently displaying the exhibition Layer by Layer, the first of a two-part series which explores the role that digital print has had in fashion in recent years, as well as the potential of three-dimensional (3D) printing as a tool to generate new shapes, structures and ideas across the creative industries.
First used in the late 1970s, 3D printing (a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model) has been increasingly relevant to fashion and design. Recent advances in computer-assisted design technology (CAD) meant that previously unimaginable creations are possible; one recent example being the world's first 3D printed dress (designed by Michael Schmidt and generated by architect Francis Bitonti) recently worn by Dita von Teese.
Layer by Layer features finished pieces as well as experimental prototypes of products, selected to illustrate the future possibilities that 3D printing technology can have to the future of fashion and design. On display are shoes by Victoria Spruce featuring twists and helical structures, demonstrating how traditional shoemaking can be combined with innovative technology to produce forward-thinking designs; footage of Iris Van Herpen's 3D printed couture catwalk creations that push the limits of garment construction while introducing new silhouettes; and a preview of designer and architects Ron Arad's new range of 3D printed glasses for PQ Eyewear with laser sintered nylon in the flexible arms of the spectacles that eliminate the need for expensive metal hinge components.
Visitors to Layer by Layer are also encouraged to learn about to design process through a series of photographic prints that reveal footwear designer Marloes ten Bhomer's development of a shoe using rapid prototyping, from digitisation to execution of the final design, through to the printing process and the final shoe. In addition, the exhibition also offers visitors the opportunity to engage with pioneering software in the form of a MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer that is running in the gallery throughout the exhibition, printing objects which will then be put on display.
Layer by Layer is a free exhibition and is open to the public until 18 May 2013. For more information, visit www.fashionspacegallery.com.
Photographs © João Paulo Nunes