3D-Printed Jewelry Like You’ve Never Seen It Before

New York studio PLAITLY blends emerging technology and meaningful stories to create striking wearable sculptures.

The Echappé necklace, designed using an algorithm that simulates the effect of gravity on draped fabric.

Like relics that are flash-frozen and dipped in gold, PLAITLYs 3D-printed jewelry captures a moment—but does so through an expression of movement, such as a slump of cloth, a rustle of lace, or an arc swept up by the sun. The studio creates other types of shapes, too, and all of them are marked by uncommonly attractive objects that explore materiality, story, and shape. PLAITLY is a reflection of founder Caroline Quinios interest in form and ephemerality. A classical pianist with a masters degree in architecture from Columbia University, Quinio launched her New York–based studio last year. Surface talked to Quinio about the creative ethos and real-world ethics that are imprinted onto each of her designs.

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The Heliodon pendant's shape memorializes an event significant to the wearer.

Give us an overview of PLAITLY’s history
I’ve always been fascinated with the creative process. Architecture and music are both characterized by experimentation: music as a temporal expression, like mist that slowly fades away, and architecture as a solid expression, like layers of rock built up over time. Music is about intimate storytelling, while architecture dwells on tangible material qualities that [encourage] human interaction. At the heart of these two concepts is jewelry design. I founded PLAITLY as an outlet for my passion for the design process and as a vehicle to create accessories that double as meaningful objects and wearable sculptures.

Tell us about PLAITLY’s core values. What’s the driving force behind its work?
People are shaped by invisible forces in our lives that make each of us unique. PLAITLY celebrates this collection of experiences, which, woven together, define who we are. Each piece strives to be expressive in its form, with interesting material qualities that allow its wearer to find something that resonates with his or her unique style. PLAITLY also celebrates the unseen ways we influence each other. For example, ten percent of sales from our Heliodon collection are donated to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a non-profit organization that uses the power of the sun to develop innovative solar solutions to the world’s energy-poor.

The Drapery collection simulates fabric draped over an object, exploring the boundary between the virtual and the physical.
The Heliodon collection is shaped by the angle of the sun at a significant location, date, and time.

What does good design mean to you?
Good design is a compelling, rigorous process that manifests in thoughtful, beautiful objects. The end result is much less interesting than the analysis, influences, and latent forces that make up the origin story of an object. I design all of my jewelry digitally. The Drapery collection really embraces the process. It involves a custom algorithm that simulates the effect of gravity on specific fabric. Each piece was virtually draped over a body part, which defines its form. The Echappé necklaces, for instance, is virtually draped over parts of the human body. Materiality is also an important element of good design, especially as an expression of process. The Heliodon was created to allow people to embed their own memories in the jewelry. I had a customer request the stud earrings show the birthdays of her two children; another requested cuff links that show the day she met her husband and the day they were married. It’s an honor to play a small part in commemorating special moments in people’s lives.

What do you currently have in the works?
I approach all of my collections as works in progress, and I’m always adding new pieces in order to continue exploring ideas. I’m currently working on new pieces for the Drapery collection that will launch later this year. I’m also working on new pieces for the Heliodon Collection: a cuff bracelet that’ll be revealed later this year as well, and a locket variant that will launch in 2019. I’m also developing a new collection that draws on the concept of personalization through algorithmic design, in a completely different way than the Heliodon.

The Petal earrings are 3D-printed in nylon and accented with copper resin beads.
The Glissade ring simulates fabric twined between a person's fingers. Shown in plated in 14-karat rose gold with a freshwater pearl.
A custom-engraved Heliodon pendant.
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