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  • 11.11.09

Geekiest Chic: Computer-Generated Jewelry

Nervous System designs custom, high-tech jewelry on the cheap using rapid prototyping.

visualization jewelry

What do you get when you combine the brains of one Harvard-educated architect and one MIT Media Lab vet? Nervous System, a company that makes bespoke jewelry using generative algorithms.

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These pieces are cheap, compared to the custom data-visualization jewelry and furniture we’ve covered before–just $25 to $50 for a ring or necklace. And that points to a seachange in custom design. While rapid prototyping and computer modeling usually produces expensive one-offs, Nervous System is actually showing how those technologies aid in very small-scale production. As they tell Design Glut in a new interview:

What advice do you have for creatives going into business for themselves?

Jesse: We’ve just focused on doing things that are interesting,
exciting and new. We’ve gotten our stuff out there and then let the
blogs and press spread it.

Jessica: There has never been a better time than now to be out on your
own, as a designer or businessperson. It has never been easier to get
your product out there. Through the Internet, you can get exposed to
everybody at almost no cost. You can send your things out to
manufacturers and just get a couple pieces made by rapid prototyping.
It’s easy to explore and see what it’s like to have a business, without
putting in a huge amount of investment. People should just start doing
it. Even if it’s just in their weekends or evenings.

Jesse: I was giving a talk yesterday at MassArt, and one thing the
professor mentioned ties into that. In traditional manufacturing, the
designer might get thousands of units made because that will bring down
the cost. Then you’re stuck with thousands of units that you have to
sell. I’ve seen people at shows with ceramics they’ve gotten produced,
and at the end of the show they just want to give them away. They’ve
already paid for the thousands of them, and they just need to get rid
of them. But now there are manufacturing technologies that allow
designers to do small runs and not make such an investment. You can
just test out the waters–see what works and go with that.

Amazingly, the project is even kind of open source. To educate their customers on their process, they’ve posted the applets they use, and you can play around with them. If you want, you can then order a customized piece of your own devising.

The two principals, Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, now plan on turning what’s already a full-time business towards bigger scale projects, ranging from furniture to housewares, and eventually, full-on architecture.

visualization jewelry
visualization jewelry
visualization jewelry

Read the full interview at DesignGlut.

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

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