Designers Corner is the place where Parametric Designers talk about their work. There is a story behind every model, and who better to tell the story than the designers themselves?
Who is Marie Boltenstern?
Marie is Managing Director and Head of Design at Boltenstern. Holding a Masters in Emergent Technologies from the Architectural Association in London, as well as a Diploma in Architecture from Berlin University of Technology.
Marie has been working at the convergence of various scales ranging from precious metal products including Luxury Jewelry, to medium-scaled architectural installations, up to complex building structures.
Boltenstern is pioneer in designing and selling directly 3D-printed precious metal jewelry collections. As a traditional Austrian fine jewelry brand, Boltenstern combines cutting-edge computational knowledge with the in-house experience of the skilled and traditional craftsmen.
Boltenstern's computational knowledge enables new types of collections.
- When did realize you wanted to continue with the legacy that your father started back in 1964?
Shortly before finishing my Diploma in Architecture I heard of a 3D printer that could print pieces directly into precious metals. This motivated me to take over our family business – with the goal to be the first brand bringing directly 3D printed fine jewelry collections to market at a scalable level.
Building upon rich history whilst simultaneously creating a new direction and business model for fine jewelry seemed to be a unique opportunity.
- What’s the difference between the normal 3D printing machines and direct 3D printing?
Usually jewelers would 3D print in wax and cast the pieces, otherwise known as "lost wax casting. These new printers work with silver or gold powder which is melted together layer by layer. Although it’s definitely more expensive than the “lost wax” method, it saves steps in the production process.
Whereas 3D printing in wax and casting the wax model has been a common technique in the jewelry industry since many years, the direct printing of precious metal powder is a widely unexplored field.
It is not a technique to make production faster or cheaper, but allows for creating designs that would not be possible to be produced in any other way.
Traditional Lost Wax Casting Process
- How did parametric design and 3D printing influence the actual strategy followed by Boltenstern?
Computational Design and 3D Printing is the main strategic focus since I took over the company 4 years ago. With this clear goal from the beginning, it took a few years to transform the company’s image and transmit the message to the clients.
- With all these new technologies around how do you manage to keep the essence of a handcrafted piece of jewelry?
Simply by educating people that there’s still a human behind each piece. These new technologies have given me the freedom to create unique collections. I’m able to follow or mimic some nature patterns.
Just like the way flowers follow mathematical concepts, each of my designs needs to be unique and described in a mathematical way.
- Who has been your greatest inspiration and why?
Ernst Haeckl is my greatest inspiration. His drawings of natural artifacts are simply amazing, mathematical and intricate at the same time. The structures inspire the shapes that we develop at Boltenstern.
Some of Ernst Haeckl drawings.
- Why is individuality important?
Nowadays it’s hard to find something unique.
Most presents are not unique enough, one can order from anywhere in the world and yet, most likely, it still won’t be unique.
For example, with our Signature Collection, it’s very hard to get one design that looks similar to another design from someone else because of the uniqueness of one’s handwriting.
The Signature Collection by Boltenstern Design
- Tell us a bit about your Signature Collection, how did you come up with the idea?
We wanted to push the influence of our clients. How could we offer more uniqueness whilst keeping a very personal level?
To me it was clear that it needed to be super easy to understand even for someone that is not familiar with 3D printing or computational design.
Also it shouldn't matter if one had nice handwriting or not, as the algorithm would help them create something unique and beautiful.
- What's your favorite Boltenstern collection/design and why?
My favourite design collection is the ‘Embrace’ Collection in which we developed a new way of setting stones. All the pieces are smooth and adaptive to the wearer. A large variation of metals and stone colours are available.
- Is the Jewelry Industry taking long to adapt new manufacturing techniques? Why?
Like every other industry, Jewelry is facing new challenges and opportunities through technology.
However, to make the most out of these a very specialized education and skill set is required.
Computational Design knowledge, 3D and geometrical understanding is essential, and at same time you need a deep understanding of Gold and Silver. The application of new techniques requires huge effort, time and patience; without forgetting that the raw materials are very costly!
- What's the future of eCommerce for the Jewelry Industry? Where do you see Boltenstern in 5 to 10 years?
E-commerce has one main advantage: production on demand. There is no need for a big physical stock any more. One can test and explore markets all over the world, like China, United States, Europe.
In a few years I hope to have established a completely new business model for fine jewelry that we are currently working on.I would like to expand our wholesale partnerships and be present with several strong sales partners around the world.
We are also working on an in-house research and production HUB for 3D printing of fine jewelry.
- Well, that sounds very exciting! We wish you all the best! Thank you very much for this interview.
You are more than welcome! We'd also like to invite everyone to check out our latest Signature Collection configurator directly on our website and to visit our Instagram page, where we feature all our new collections.
The Embrace Collection by Boltenstern Design