An Italian emigrated to Holland with traditional experience as a jeweler whose creations are not in gold and silver but in 3D printed nylon. We spoke with  Dario Scapitta about the role of materials, inspiration, the desire to create and the results he produces at the crossroads between technology and design.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Valenza (AL), Italy, and moved to Enschede, Holland, in 2010. Valenza is one of the jewelry capitals of Italy (along with Vicenza and Arezzo), and everyone in my family always worked in this sector, so it was my destiny to do so as well. I learned the bases of design here, before moving on to a degree course in set and costume design at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera a Milano. Experience in this fashion-obsessed city strongly influenced what I do and desire to do now.

I then did a Masters from the Accademia d’Arte e Mestieri del Teatro at Milan's Teatro Scala, and that is where I learned to use 3D and CAD modeling software. So, when I went back to Valenza, I started working as a designer and CAD designer for jewelry in a studio that does rapid prototyping. This was my first introduction to the wonderful world of 3D printing.

How do your origins in Valenza influence your creations?

The experience of living in a new country opens you up to new facets of culture. My own cultural baggage contributes to my ability as a trend spotter, trends that become designs for my collections. Everything around me is inspiration - art, design, nature... For example my Black Rose collection is, of course, inspired by roses, but fashion and architecture also come up in my work, and for me,everything can be transformed into something wearable, into a bracelet, necklace or hat.

My experience allows me to analyze style within the fields of jewelry, the accessories industru and fashion objects. Jewelry and accessories are, for me, body ornaments that don't necessarily have to be made with traditionally luxurious materials like gold and diamonds, but rather can be made with the new digital fabrication techniques and alternative materials.

Tell us how you use 3D printing to make jewelry

3D printing or rapid manufacturing allows one to make intricate items in a single piece, like my Coral armband. For the printing of my designs I work with the most important services in the field: Shapeways (Eindhoven, Holland) i.materialise (Leuven, Belgium) or Sculpteo (Issy-les-Moulineaux, France). They use high resolution 3D printers that selectively fuse granular nylon powder into a solid. The part of the powder that does not get melted into a solid serves to sustain the delicate walls of the product while it is being made, reducing the need to design in temporary supports (as one would in traditional metalworking). Plus you can make things like a series of links in a single piece. The main limit of this technology is the materials, each of which (nylon, steel or ceramic) has precise rules for design, regarding especially thickness in the CAD project

Material or technique… Which has a more important role in your creations?

Both are very necessary. Unquestionably, material is very important to me as a designer of wearable items. Right now I'm working with 3D printing, but maybe tomorrow they'll be made in wood, textile, or a mix of these materials. My creative process is in continuous evolution, I don't want to be slave to any one technology. In this moment I am looking into combining 3D printing with other materials in order to give objects an even more unique touch.

Can you talk about the importance of collaboration?

The designer needs collaboration in order to grow, to learn new techniques and take on new challenges. You have to keep growing and remain up to date, not stay in a shell, by experimenting with new techniques, both traditional and modern, to create uniqueness rather than just replicate. One thing about 3D printing is that it is a great medium for making things that already exist. For me, I need to be sure to use it to create, not to RE-create.

Tell us about your inspiration

Everything is inspiration. Our role as designers is to transform this input into a decorative or functional object, to take in the aesthetic sense of a shape, place or anything else, make it grow and give it life as something new. Oftentimes, inspiration is a flash that comes to me, maybe before falling asleep. An idea that keeps me up all night because I have to put it down on paper. That sketch stays there for a while, matures, until I decide on the material that is going to make it live. Then, I start modeling that form, studying the material, making prototypes and following the whole creative process until that flash before bed becomes a bracelet, a necklace, a lamp, a fabulous dress or a magnificent palazzo.

How important is it for you to create?

I could never stop creating. My brain won't stop thinking up new forms. I think I would die if I weren't able to do this. I think this is common in people whose work derives from creative passion. Being creative means being a dreamer, imagining things in a different way, not just in art and aesthetics. I need to look, observe, touch physical things in order to understand how to make new forms.

Define your aesthetic

This is not easy. I always try to think of beauty when I create. As a jewelry designer, I am in a world dominated by fashion and elegance; my objects need to ornament the body and underline its features without making it ridiculous or ugly, even with large pieces like in the Snake Collection. I think that a jewel can also be thought of as a currency, not of luxury but as one that can make the bearer happy and give her a new character or feeling, like with the Sparkling collection. I am not focused on finding a recognizable style that characterizes all my works, but rather I want to give each object its own style that appeals to the person who will wear it.

Do you feel like a Maker?

To do. It's all about this verb: what we do is invent, create, play with forms, materials and colours. This is why I think of myself as a Maker, because really, I have always been one, it's something you have inside you, which combines with dreams and creativity that take on life and guide our hands to make them live.

What do you like about MakeTank?

I was struck by the youthful, fresh approach of MakeTank and the way that vendors and their creations are given pride of place. There's a nice variety of products offered, and each of them transmits the passion of the person who made it. Laura's enthusiasm and the work of her whole team have been fundamental. It's great to see my works surrounded by other interesting, attractive and creative items.

I chose to put my latest collections up on MakeTank, like the Black Rose Collection, with its simple and elegant floral silhouette, the Coralia bracelet which seems to have come straight out of a coral barrier, the more sculptural Snake Collection or the fresh and 'fizzy' Sparkling Collection, inspired by a good glass of Prosecco.

Take a closer look and purchase Dario Scapitta Design on MakeTank.


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