From 22-23 February, FITC Amsterdam was an event held “on the future of innnovation, design and all the cool shit in between.” Girls in Tech NL had the opportunity to attend an inspirational and eye-opening two days, with 40+ International speakers, innovating topics, and conversations geared towards creativity and professional topics in digital media. This is the second in a series of interviews that Girls in Tech held with some innovative speakers at the event.
Jessica Rosenkrantz, Nervous System co-founder, 3D printing fashion creator.
How did you get started?
I went to MIT and when I went there, I thought I was going to major in biology – which I actually did. I worked in labs throughout university, and you can tell throughout my work that I am incredibly interested in biological systems. When I was in my second year of university, I was introduced to a professor at MIT named John Maeda who worked at the media lab. He was doing this pioneering work of generating art through code and his group was called “aesthetics and computation.” I really liked his work, so I tried to take a class with him. From the moment I took that class, I started to learn how to code but specifically coding to make art. From there, I decided to add an additional major in architecture that is the closest degree MIT has to art. A really chance occurrence is what led me to start my own company. During my post-graduate studies, I was making laser-cut models for a large-scale design, and the small-scale models began to curl up on my desk. Someone had walked by and asked if it was a bracelet. And then I thought to myself, I could take these sketch models and designs and apply them to fashion. From there I started making jewelry using 3D printing and put them on the internet, and people started talking about them, and from there, I started to gain a lot of attention for my work. We’ve never hired a PR firm, everything has happened organically.
Are there any areas that you haven’t explored that you’d like to integrate into your work?
I have a project in mind about visualizing the affects of climate change on coral reefs but through data animation and 3D printing. I would love to build a simulation environment on the internet as well. I would also like to work with the idea of 4D printing and design malleable and durable materials and textiles themselves.
What is one of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on?
My partner Jesse would definitely say that the best project we’ve done is our work with jigsaw puzzles. We were inspired on a trip when we saw a local artisan hand-cutting really intricate pieces for a hand-crafted puzzle, and thought it would be interesting to replicate that technique. We thought to ourselves, “can we use digital technology to bring back some of these traditions?” We’ve created one-of-a-kind puzzles, with complex shapes, through laser-cutting and locally-sourced materials.
If you had a piece of advice to pass along to another entrepreneur who is interested in this field, what would you say?
Do everything yourself at the beginning: do your own photography, make your own website, get on top of all the facets. You can always do it for cheaper, and often better, than outsourcing it to someone else. We still live by that today – I still do most of the photography and manage our website. If you already have something you’re passionate about, you’ve already solved the biggest problem.