Science has long been a source of inspiration for art. Though some believe there is a sharp divide between art and science, both historical and present practice belie the existence of such a division. From the macro to the micro scale, the world is filled with inspiring natural occurrences; whether in mountainous cumulus clouds or in the voronoi patterns found in cell structures. The beauty of fractals and a variety of patterns created by what are known as “strange attractors” have inspired everything from textiles to garden design.
Now, a research scientist and a 3D artist and illustrator are pairing up to create jewelry designs that build upon their fascination with science and are helping them to invest in making science education more widely accessible. Idoya Lahortiga, the scientist and self-professed jill-of-all-trades, and designer Luk Cox, formerly a research scientist himself, have launched a jewelry line through Somersault18:24 with the idea that, “beautiful, smart, engaging, and sexy is not an impossible combination.”
This pair brings two PhDs in biomedical science and a creative vision that just won’t quit, to the creation of pendants and earrings in the images of phylogenetic trees, neurons, and pi among other designs. All of the jewelry is 3D printed in silver through Shapeways and the profits go to fund a platform that provides visuals to aid in science education.
The platform is a pay as you can resource that asks only that people be honest with themselves about the value of the resource and their abilities to contribute in relation to their usage. The duo’s philosophy is fantastically altruistic and you would have to be heartless to not find their enthusiasm and generosity moving. Their vision is shared on their site and aligns closely with the open source movement that has been such a strong influence in the 3D design community:
“We firmly believe that science education and communication are crucial for the advancement of science. Tools and resources that facilitate this process should be as free as possible, easily accessible, and easy to share and spread. We know that this platform can only continue to exist, grow, and ultimately excel if you, the user, step up, support, honor, and trust the system. We’ve created these resources for everybody, regardless of your financial situation. If you can’t afford it, take it now. If you love it, chip in later when you can.”
They are currently working on adding even more material to their resource library in the form of a collection of major cell signaling pathways designed by Sandro Fedini and a second part to their already available library of science and medical illustrations.
Their most recent pair of releases are modeled by Idoya in a video on their site, a pair of chromosome earrings and a bacteriophage pendant. The chromosomes featured large in Idoya’s dissertation and she speaks of them with a fondness usually reserved for people’s conversations about a beloved pet. You might be surprised at the mechanical look of the bacteriophage, and that would be exactly what they are hoping for because chances are, after you see the necklace, you will not be able to resist learning more about these strange little creatures. Also part of the collection is a beautiful neuron pendants whose sensuous curves and asymmetrical form are captivating.