Da Capo is a unique Dublin-based workshop providing bespoke commissioned jewelry, creative objects and limited editions. They also make use of 3D printing to create their final products and are featured on our blog today to tell their story and experiences. Let’s have a look at what they have to say…
Tell us a bit about yourself and Da Capo Goldsmiths?
Da Capo Goldsmiths is the name of our Studio, based in Dublin’s docklands. We opened in October 2000, myself Sé, and my colleague Lee. We met on a Crafts Council of Ireland 2 year course in the mid 90s, and both went on to work for a number of goldsmiths and jewelry businesses both in Ireland and in Holland and Germany. We decided at the outset of setting up our own studio that we wouldn’t have a set style or catalog of pieces that we make. Instead for the majority of our work we concentrate on designing each piece in order to best suit the individual customer, a properly bespoke service.
We felt that if we were to go to a graphic designer or an architect, that we would expect that the person would listen to our likes & dislikes and what we needed, how much our budget was etc, and then design the best solution to suit that brief. We also felt that looking at the majority of craft-type businesses, there was a well worn path of developing a product range and then trying to find a customer for it through shops and galleries. Something we wanted to avoid was repeating similar things to the point where we lost our enthusiasm and love of creating and building new objects.
Our studio is less about us making what we want to make, (although we get to do that sometimes), but to reflect and realize the dreams of our customers and give them their own tailored voice. This hasn’t always been an easy route to take, and we’ve been discovering our own way as we travel it. But it has been enormously rewarding, especially in how it has stretched us as designers. In recent years we have also started to provide some ‘ready-to-wear’ items of some of our designs, while still staying true to our core philosophy of accessible bespoke objects.
What’s inspires your work?
We are constantly looking at everything around us. There is never anything that is exempt from questions, criticism or admiration.
Ideas can strike at the most interesting, obscure moments. And we are constantly sketching and building scrapbooks, paper & digital, of everything from fine-art to product design, to urban street art, to traditional fine jewelry, to clothing, to graphics… our only guiding rule is that if it catches your eye it is worth paying attention to. Once you start to liberate yourself from the inherent preconceptions of your area of design then you can make fresher observations or connections between shape and form and how that communicates in a very simple and immediate way. There isn’t really a difference between a building or a bridge or a car or a ring or a suit. They all perform a function with physical parameters, but they also communicate through their shape, color, decoration and detailing.
We are also very lucky to have our studio in a very unique building, where there are numerous and varied workshops from a violin&instrument maker, to paper conservation, to sculpture, to ceramics, and many more. Each of them excellent practitioners in their own areas.
The building itself is 150 years old this year, and was as far as we know the first building in the world with a metal skeletal structure supporting multiple floors. It was ground breaking in its day and is the grandfather of every skyscraper since. There is a great atmosphere in our building and people are very open to sharing their knowledge about materials and processes, so it really opens up the potential to create new work. It is also very easy to get inspired by the creativity and productivity of the others around us, so you want to do better to stand in the company of the group. The building is owned by a very old and pedigreed university in Dublin called Trinity College, and they have start-up businesses and specialist entities dotted around us too, so we are next door to a brand new drama building, and downstairs from a floor full of super-computers.
The general area has transformed over the last decade from a dilapidated forgotten part of the city, to now having a mix of old warehouses, a Martha Schwarz plaza, a Liebeskind-designed theatre and Google’s offices, and is now a kind of social & architectural mash-up of Tron/Fabergé/Dickens/Kids-from-Fame.
It is easy to get giddy with the potential.
How did you discover 3D printing?
Given that we design a lot of unique pieces, we found quite early that it was critical for us to be able to help our customers to visualize ideas and so we first started with CAD drawing simply to be able to help people understand the shapes and forms we wanted to build for them, and to make decisions between the small nuances and detail that would help define their piece.
We have always been fascinated by the dynamic between some of our tools and processes which have been unchanged essentially for a thousand years or more, and the pioneering technological abilities that we are seeing emerge in our lifetime. The room for combination between them are genuinely intriguing.
What role does 3D printing play in the creation of your work?
Our use of RP really depends on the job in hand. We don’t use any particular process exclusively, and it is always a case of looking at the design and deciding on the most efficient and cost effective way to execute it. We usually discuss this with the customer too and explain the different options.
Sometimes we build by hand at our bench with raw bullion forms of plate and wire, sometimes it is a case of carving a wax model by hand that we can then get cast in precious metal, sometimes it is a case of printing a wax model which is then cast, and now we are also utilizing printing in metal.
Occasionally a customer will have their own over-riding preference for a piece to be entirely made by hand in a purist aesthetic, or to be using the very newest high-tech. Each has its character and a lot of people like the choice.
What additional post-production do you perform on your 3D prints?
Even with the use of high-tech processes there is still the need for the results to be hand finished at a bench to improve the surface quality to an acceptable level of polish or matte finish, quite often involving further assembly of parts or setting of gems. So nothing is ever quite clear cut and each job is unique. Sometimes we may even need to under-finish an object from the level we would usually work to because the customer wants to be able to see visible tooling marks and the evidence of the hands that made the object. This in itself is as valid a path as a perfectly polished surface, and these are what define the object and make it fit to the wearer and their own style.
What can we expect you to 3D print next?
Who knows, even we don’t.
We just finished a one-off Sterling Silver watch for a gentleman who was retiring from his post in a tech-department of a university. It was inspired by a Girard-Perregaux from the 70s that had enormous sentimental value for the guy, but had sadly been lost about 15 years ago.
So this version echoed the detail he liked in his original after some discussions with his sons and wife, but had the title across the dial as his own name along with his department and the year of his retirement placed around the date window. A really unique piece and thoroughly fun to make.
Last christmas we made a version of a Victorian secret-message ring in Titanium for a customer in Singapore which was a highlight of 2011. And with wedding rings and partnership rings couples really get involved in bringing their story and adding personal details to their rings.
We had a couple from London who took 2 diamonds from one of the girls grandmother’s ring, and used the original ring as the starting point for a profile that changed and carried through the two rings. They were inspired by the sculpture of Barbara Hepworth and had a single aperture that followed through the whole shape and was used to set a single diamond in each ring.
Who knows what will come next, and each conversation can end up leading to a surprising and rewarding result.
Where can we find more of your amazing work?
Our work is available from us directly in our studio. Some customers will travel to see us perhaps once or twice through the duration of their commission, perhaps for the initial discussions, and later on a fitting. And frequently these days the work is carried out online with exchanges of drawings and emails.
Occasionally we post instagram pictures of something interesting as it is happening ‘live’ on our bench. This is something we have started recently and we have gotten a great reaction to it as it lets people glimpse behind the scenes as something is being created, and then later seeing the finished piece, obviously after the customer/recipient has gotten to see it first ; )
You can see more about us and follow us here:
Username seseven on Instagram
If you like Da Capo’s work, we’ve got good news for you, as we’ll have some of Da Capo’s work for sale in the near future. We’ll definitely keep you updated on this.
Needless to say… we thank our friends from Da Capo Goldsmiths for their amazing contribution to our blog and for their impeccable work. We look very much forward to their amazing future projects.