Sum & Substance: Jenny Wu

Sum & Substance: Jenny Wu

Jenny Wu Catena Necklace

Catena necklace, 2014, flexible nylon, 7.6 x 7.6 x 2 in.; Photo: Christian K. Coleman

An architect as well as a jewelry designer, Jenny Wu translates geometries into wearable statements using 3D printing. “I see the potential of jewelry as ‘architecture’on the body,” she says. As an architect, she has mastered 3D printing to make models, a skill that serves her jewelry design business. “She makes incredible interlocking 3D-printed jewelry,” says Arthur Hash.“3D-printed work is not necessarily new and exciting anymore, but she gets it right.”

How she got started: About two years ago, I was interested in designing some jewelry for myself. I had a specific vision of the type of pieces I wanted,but I didn’t see them on the market. I started sketching some ideas and decided to prototype them using 3D-printing technology. After I received such overwhelmingly positive reactions to my pieces everywhere I went, I decided to launch my own collection of 3D-printed jewelry.

Her training: I have an unusual background for a jewelry designer. I am a partner in an LA-based experimental architectural firm. I have been using 3D printing for the past 10 years, mainly for architectural model making. I have always been interested in jewelry, which prompted me to design my own collection using 3D printing.

What makes her work unique: I have spent a long time researching and applying 3D printing to wearable design, from understanding the different 3D-printing technologies to the selection of materials that are appropriate. There are very few jewelry design brands that have invested so much research in 3D printing.

Her biggest challenge: Material limitation is one of the challenges. I am limited by the materials that can be produced with the technology currently available; very often those materials are inappropriate for use in my products. Discerning consumers demand wearability and durability.

Her biggest reward: I absolutely love seeing the reaction from people who put on my pieces for the first time.