Apr. 20, 2015 | By Roberto Pizzato

Cristina Franceschini is an Italian freelance designer who lives in Fermo, a small city in central Italy. Her hometown has a long tradition in shoe manufacturing. Here, craftsmanship and expertise have been passed down from generation to generation for decades. Indeed, this picturesque historical town is the shoe manufacturing centre of many well-known brands, such as Hogan and Tod's, and even luxury fashion brands such as Prada. Raised in such an environment, Cristina (aka Crystif) represents a new generation of designers trying to combine long-standing tradition with innovation, a process enhanced by new technologies such as 3D printing. While Crystif has worked for big shoe companies in the past, her passion for technology and manufacturing eventually led her to produce her own creations.

"I love to experiment and to reinterpret products through figurative and emotional design," she told me when I invited her to share her visions with 3ders.org. "The most important thing is not to stick to any form of archetype, but rather to blur that archetype, to shape it into new forms using different materials." In figurative design, the relevance of the sculptural aesthetic comes before the functionalities of objects themselves. "I am an idea," Crystif goes on, "I get inspired from things around me, things I re-elaborate through my feelings, my experiences and my skills."

Cristina entered the world of additive manufacturing three years ago, when she bought an Italian-made WASP 3D printer. Now, she uses a photopolymer 3D printer and metal sintering when working on jewels, while for shoes she prefers nylon, because it is a light and resistant material. Despite her new gadgets and expertise, however, the first prototype of a new project is always realized on her trusty old WASP. In terms of software, she primarily works with Moi3d and Zbrush, however she also experiments with other programs to stay up to date and challenge herself.

"I spend days online in research, others in designing and planning the production, then I eventually finalize my products. My creative process always starts with research, then I usually sketch up something conceptual that I design in 3D almost immediately. If I see the rendering is fine, I can begin testing the first 3D printing trials."

Additive manufacturing benefits Cristina's work by speeding up the prototyping process and cutting the costs, as each object can be completed within 3-9 hours. Moreover, this technology enlarges the spectrum of possibilities when designing and realizing new projects: geometrical and structural shapes that once were out of reach are now easily achieved with 3D printing.

"Thanks to the vast gamma of materials offered by companies active in that field, mini-series of objects can now easily penetrate the market," she explained. As a consequence, many designers have made their fortune in this field, and the trend is sure to continue in the coming years. Among her colleagues, she is fascinated by the creations of Luigi Colani, Karim Rashid, Iris van Herpen and Isaie Bloch, while on the fashion side she is an adamant follower of Alexander McQueen. "I find it hard to say which project or which artist I like the most, I follow the work of many colleagues. This technology embraces different sectors of the design world and it is constantly developing into something new. If I said that I like an object today, tomorrow there will probably be one better."

Currently, she is collaborating with 3dshoes.com, a company that has already used materials such as ceramic, kevlar, rubber, PLA, gold-plated steel and titanium. The project consists of the production of '10 iconic shoes' designed for women, and will be presented in the near future. Moreover, Cristina is producing new shoes, jewels and glasses that will be 3D printed and eventually finalized through artisanal post-production work according to the Italian tradition. "At the end of the day, it is a simple concept: I combine craftsmanship and digital manufacturing, then I will plan marketing and selling".

Out of all of her projects, the glasses she recently designed are among the most eye-catching. "Their design tells the story of an encounter, the encounter between technology and forms that are not geometrical anymore. Objects are not bound to the productive process; on the contrary, forms that are free, maybe surrealistic, surely futuristic. I do have a decorative style, my projects are never stereotypical. And this is just the beginning."

As the project is still in its testing phase, the images we can see online are only renderings. At the moment, Cristina has printed out some prototypes with her WASP 3D printer, using PLA filament, but she is planning to test other materials as well. "Designs for craft from Italy have excellent filaments, but if I am not be satisfied with the result, I will just switch to sintering."

As mentioned above, some of the models are printed with her WASP 3D printer, but Cristina also collaborates with an Italian laboratory based in Vicenza. 3D printing the glasses with her small printer in high definition takes about four hours, while with the help of the laboratory she has access to a large number of high quality printers. "I have not started proper selling the collection yet, but I will as soon as I plan the whole production. Nonetheless, some pieces are already on Shapeways."




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Sonu Singh wrote at 12/10/2016 1:59:23 PM:

Dear Roberto, Greetings from Aza Fashions Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai, India. We as a High- end Multi designer store keeping India's renowned designers Collection of Garments as well as footwear, We liked Cristina's 3D footwear Collection which we wants to start with at Our store based in Mumbai. We are interested to have a look-book of Her's collection. Kindly suggest how do we go about it. Thanks & Regards, Sonu Singh Merchandiser Email : Merchandising@azafashions.com

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