Mar 9, 2018 | By Tess

Our readers will already know how excited we were about the release of Marvel’s Black Panther and how especially pleased we were that some of the film’s stunning costumes were made using 3D printing technologies.

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

To add to the excitement, we recently got the chance to speak to Julia Koerner, an architect and 3D printing fashion specialist who worked on the film and played an integral role in realizing the 3D printed crown and shoulder piece worn by Queen Ramonda, a character played by Angela Bassett.

Koerner, whose work we’ve written about before, is the founder of JK Design GmbH, a design practice specializing in the use of cutting-edge technology. Her 3D printed pieces, which blend nature-inspired and architectural structures, combine fashion and technology—something that drew the attention of Black Panther’s costume designer Ruth E. Carter.

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

“The kingdom of Wakanda in the film tells the story of a fictional place where advancements in technology and innovation are taking place,” Koerner tells us. “The costumes of the character Queen Ramonda were meant to exemplify the combination of traditional African culture and the most high-tech fashion. Fascinated by my recent work, costume designer Ruth E. Carter approached me to work together on 3D printed costumes for the film. Together we developed the most cutting-edge, digitally designed wearables that we could imagine.”

Ruth E. Carter, whose vision of Wakanda’s culture and aesthetic is being praised all over the globe, drew from various elements of traditional African cultures as well as technology to create an amazing visual tapestry in the film. Of course, she had a talented and dedicated team that helped bring her vision to the screen.

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

“It was great to work with Ruth Carter and her team,” Koerner elaborates. “Costume Concept Artist Philip Boutte created beautiful illustrations based on Ruth’s concepts, while I developed digital designs and parametrically generated patterns that were inspired by traditional African culture for the Zulu Hat and Shoulder Mantle.”

In our interview, Koerner explains what went into the design and manufacturing process for Queen Ramonda’s headpiece and shoulder mantle.

“Based on the initial costume design sketches by Ruth Carter, I developed a series of African-inspired 3D patterns and designed the Zulu Hat and the Shoulder Mantle so that it had corresponding elements in the pattern,” she told us. “It was important that the fashion pieces did not look hand-crafted and incorporated the technological look of something generated parametrically by algorithms by a computer. Therefore, we used visual programming software to develop the geometries for the pieces and experimented with the material intricacy and behavior.

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

“In actually fabricating the costume props, we worked with Belgian company Materialise, with whom I have frequently collaborated over the past 10 years. The technology we used was laser sintering, a powder-based 3D printing technology that enables the highest level of freedom of design as no supports are needed. The costume props were made from PA 12, a polyamide material that provided us with a high level of accuracy, flexibility, and strength. The material is also well suited for skin contact, making it ideal for fashion and costume designs.”

According to Koerner, the detail and structure of Queen Ramonda’s 3D printed costumes was realized in part thanks to her frequent collaborator Kais Al-Rawi.

“Personally, I work closely with my partner, Kais Al-Rawi on such projects—we have a shared background in architecture and both hold master degrees in emergent technologies and design from the Architectural Association in London. He brings expertise on complexity from a large-scale point of view, having worked on notable projects such as stadiums, museums, and airports.”

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

“It is exciting how our design processes enable us to work in a cross-disciplinary way and explore different applications of the additive manufacturing process. We have worked with well-established Parisian haute couture houses and designers in the past years and we are continuously exploring the small-scale application of generative digital design. Admittedly, it is quite different to be involved in a film where a much more diverse and broad audience can relate to the 3D printed designs.”

In addition to the 3D printed costume props, Koerner says that a series of floor lamps that are part of Shuri’s lab in Black Panther were prototyped using 3D printing.

“I worked on the design of the Artemide ‘New Nature’ floor lamp while at Ross Lovegrove Studio in London in 2011,” the designer said. “We actually developed 3D printed prototypes throughout the design process of these lamps.”

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

Black Panther marks the first time that Koerner has been part of a film’s production, and the incredible impact of the film is not lost on her.

“I am so thankful to have my first project in this industry to be at this scale and level; Black Panther is an incredibly inspiring movie,” she told us. “It is overwhelming to see how well the movie is being received worldwide. I certainly think that it will be an inspiration for the young generation to innovate with emergent technologies. Personally, it is a surprise how all of a sudden old friends of mine can relate to my work and associate themselves with what I do. Most of the innovative fashion work or research in architecture is received by a small design community and I feel that with this movie I was able to connect with a much broader audience of all kind of cultures and backgrounds.”

(Image: Marvel’s BLACK PANTHER / Costume Design by Ruth Carter)

Speaking about pieces for her own company JK Design, Koerner elaborates on what elements inspire her and how 3D printing has opened up possibilities for her products.

“I am inspired by nature and its patterns and structures. The organic growth and synthetic manufacturing processes have an incredible contrasting engagement which I find enticing. Additive manufacturing is definitely the only technique to output the 3D designs I develop on the computer within their organic form, the intricate patterns and geometries often challenge both the computational capacity of my tools as well the production companies I work with. I always push and see what has not yet been done and I am eager to create something new.”

Koerner, who gained critical acclaim for her 3D printed “Sporophyte” fashion collection in 2015, has had her work featured and exhibited all over the globe. Most notably, the designer has been highlighted in SCHÖN! Magazine, Aesthetica Magazine, AD Magazine, and exhibited at Ars Electronica, the A+D Museum in L.A., the Tallinn Architecture Biennale, and more. Koerner has also collaborated with Dutch fashion designer and 3D printed fashion pioneer Iris van Herpen, Austrian fashion designer Marina Hoermanseder, and Maison Lesage for its Chanel Haute Couture collection in 2015. Presently, the designer says she is working on a number of new projects which will be unveiled in the next few months.

Designer & Architect Julia Koerner



Posted in Interviews



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