Interview with Danit Peleg: Democratic Fashion Design
2013 was a prime year for designers and architects seeking to take 3D printers to their limits within their particular disciplines. Three-dimensional computer models began producing coherent design objects. In the same year designers also presented visual and conceptual alternatives to the highly precise 3D technology, bringing the genesis of all ideas, the drawn line, back into focus. In 2015 this effortless experimentation with two-dimensionality has been developed into three-dimensional pieces that can be seen as homage to those early forays into new territory. The implementation creates a new aesthetic that reflects both the fragility and the perspective of each idea: it all starts and ends with the line.
Danit Peleg’s fashion is a further example of how the precision of 3D printing can be translated into living design. We spoke to her about the possibilities that technology presents, its democratisation effects and the future of the fashion industry.
Your 3D-printed fashion collection is currently attracting very many positive reactions in the media landscape. This is your final project that you submitted in July this year to conclude your studies at the Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art in Israel. Your collection is designed so that it can be printed out at home. Tell us about your project.
It is my final degree project on which I worked throughout the whole of my final semester – a total of nine months. I have been deeply interested in special textiles for a very long time. While I was studying I focused on producing unique fabrics. I was particularly fascinated to find ways of combining new technologies with fashion. During my final semester, I decided to focus my research on 3D printing processes and also to understand why more people are not printing their clothing themselves at home.
At the beginning, I posted a video about my project and within two weeks it had been viewed more than four million times. I had really not expected such a reaction. I had thought it might attract some interest but not to the viral extent that it did. I think that this project creates a connection with people’s imaginations as to how the future of fashion might look like.
On your website you say that you believe that “technology will help democratize fashion”. You cite the painting “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugène Delacroix as the inspiration for the collection and the geometric structures in it. What is the connection between fashion and democracy?
I felt liberated whilst working on the project. I didn’t have to go to a shop to buy fabrics that someone else had designed for me – I could simply print them out. I think that this was the reason I was moved to work on this project. This is also what the title of Delacroix’s painting implies. This is why I also decided to write “Liberté” on the back of the red jacket in my collection. It is French for “freedom”.
In future, there will be more 3D-printed fashion, but it will look different to what we have today. What I have done is to prove that it is feasible. I now have the possibility of sending a jacket digitally, as an email for example, that can be printed out at someone else’s house. When I speak of democracy, I mean that it will be simpler to be a fashion designer and to disseminate your design pieces. At the moment, you need a shop or a platform to display clothing to buyers. You have to overcome a whole series of production and transport hurdles to achieve your goal. But if it is possible for everyone to design and sell clothing online for the customer to print out at home, there is also the possibility of democratising fashion. This process can be compared to the changes in video production caused by Youtube.
How do your fabrics and your style differ from 3D-printed fashion collections of previous years? Well-known examples to cite in this respect would be Amelia Agosta and Iris van Herpen.
A few designers have already experimented with 3D-printed fashion at this point: Iris van Herpen, and Nervous Systems with its “Kinematics” series (see form 254) etc., but they all used large industrial printers that are very expensive and have the effect of making the fabrics feel like plastic.
The possibilities presented by 3D-printed fabrics have always knocked my socks off. I worked as an intern with the fashion collective Threeasfour in New York, whose collection also included 3D-printed clothing. The pieces were fabulous but were made of hard plastic meaning that the models couldn’t sit down in their clothing. Because they had been printed out on industrial 3D printers, we only had another attempt at producing them. In my collection, I wanted to try to produce flexible fabrics that represent the key characteristic of real, usable fabrics. For this, I used Filaflex, a new kind of fibre. It is strong yet very flexible and also can be printed with normal 3D printers.
Let’s take a look at the future: what will the fashion industry be like and what will be the job of fashion designers when one day 3D printers are no longer expensive and are accessible to everyone?
I think it is simply a question of time until we see better and competitively priced printers on the market with which we can print out “wearable” fabrics. If technology improves considerably, this is where I see the future of the fashion industry. The consequences will be far reaching – lower transport costs, more customisability and, above all, the democratisation of design. Everyone will be able to produce clothing.
So in the same way that we see “viral” videos today, we may be able to see “viral” t-shirts in the future, ones that someone has designed and suddenly everyone is wearing.