We chat to Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg, who uses 3D printers to create her seriously cool fashion collection.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became interested in fashion?
I live in Tel Aviv, Israel. It is such an innovative city that is known for a lot of successful start-up companies. I am 28 years old and I graduated from Shenkar. I really love to create things. I want to consider myself as a maker and I like learning from other makers. In fashion I am most interested in creating new textiles and trying to work with technology. I like hanging out with my friends and going to the beach in Tel Aviv. I also love travelling the world especially with my collection.
I realized I was first interested in fashion when I was 10 years old. I attended an after school fashion course and back then my teacher was a student at Shenkar. 12 years later I found myself a student at Shenkar, following as my teacher did when I was 10 years old. Studying here inspired me to open a fashion school for little girls. My mother also helped by buying me my first sewing machine. I started to play with it and made clothes with it. It was so much fun to be independent and create my own clothes. I started making clothes for my brother’s rock band and from there, the projects increased. I knew early on that I’d be doing creative things with my hands, specifically making clothes.
You are particularly interested in the influence technology has on fashion. What first sparked this interest and how has this translated into your own work?
I have always researched how technology can impact fashion. I had always incorporated new technologies into my projects. For example, in 2014, I made a dress featuring a heart shape formed out of LED lights. The dress was connected to a phone number, and viewers were encouraged to “text the dress” with their opinions of it. When people sent positive messages, the lights would illuminate to form a heart; negative messages turned the lights off. I think that with all the new technology around us, we are still wearing similar clothes to those that people wore 50 years ago – the style changed, but the materials are similar. When I first saw a 3D printer, I knew I wanted to use it for my graduate collection. After I started, I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and print the entire collection using home 3D printers. I also wanted to have the freedom to make my own textiles as opposed to depending on what I’d find on the market. 3D printing is liberating because the designer’s imagination is the only constraint. As the technology evolves and materials and printers improve, designers will find a lot of freedom in this technique.
I have always been interested in special textiles. I have focused on making unique textiles throughout the years, and specifically looked for ways to combine new technologies and fashion. I did an internship at a fashion house in New York and their collection included two 3D printed dresses that I worked on but the dresses were made out of hard plastics and using industrial printers. The models couldn’t sit down in the dresses, and the dresses scratched their underarms. I know that the key property for textiles is for it to be soft so for my graduate collection I decided to research the field and print this collection from home
After completing your fashion design degree, you taught yourself how to use 3D design software and printers. How much of a challenge was this? Did you have help to learn these new techniques?
I met so many people online to help me understand the technology and I worked with experts in Tel Aviv in making this first collection. I was doing this while I was still a student at Shenkar as it was part of my fashion degree. At the beginning I didn’t know anything about 3D printing, but once you get the basics, it’s as simple as printing ink on paper. I actually only had 9 months to figure out how to use this kind of technology properly.
You started with one 3D printer and have now expanded to increase your productivity. Can you tell us about the process involved in creating your 3D designs?
First I sketch my design out, like with any traditional design process. Then I would create the pattern on software similar to AccuMark, before working with blender and a 3D modelist to prepare it for printing. The design would then be ready to print!
You mention the painting, ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Eugene Delacroix as a source of inspiration. How did this inspire your first collection? Where else do you look for creative inspiration?
Yes, my inspiration was Eugène Delacroix’s painting Liberty Leading the People. I modified it so it would look like a 3D picture. I was inspired to work with the many triangles present in the painting’s composition and the tricolors of the French flag, which are omnipresent when wearing 3D glasses. I chose that painting because the picture feels so powerful. I felt empowered and free when I could design and print my clothes at home by myself hence the painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’.
I really like to watch other makers doing their own thing and how this would translate into a textile I can make. I also take inspiration from the things that surround me, my environment so to speak. I take pictures of complex architecture and sculptures around urban Tel Aviv. Now when I’m travelling a lot with my collection, I’m seeing new inspiration all around the world.
You now advise other designers and fashion houses, and travel the world to talking publicly about your designs and how technology will continue to influence fashion. How do you see technology influencing fashion in the future? How will advances in technology benefit the fashion industry?
If the technology improves then this could be the future of the fashion industry. The magnitudes are huge. There will be less shipping costs and most importantly the democratization of design – anyone will be able to design clothes. Most importantly you will be able to print it in your home!