What we wear and how we play is made with code
Whether it’s fashion design; an artificial-intelligence assistant on your smartphone; augmented reality in the form of Snapchat filters; or tools for creating artworks, almost every aspect of our social lives are permeated by technology.
While she’s now a rising tech star, this wasn’t always the case for fashion designer Charne Esterhuizen – when her father moved the family from South Africa to Australia for work, they slept on mattresses on the floor, as they adjusted to their new life in the nation’s capital. “I grew up in Carletonville, a farm town in South Africa, so Canberra is the biggest city I have ever lived in,” says the 24-year-old designer. “We immigrated when I was 16 years old because of safety and also for bigger opportunities.”
Super friendly and talking a mile a minute, Charne takes the same unstoppable attitude her father had in relocating their family to following her own dream career path – as a fashion designer for the label she founded, MAAK Clothing. “It doesn’t matter if anyone tells you that you can’t do something – if you have the passion and drive to change the world, then why not do it and prove everyone wrong,” she says.
Ultimately, this eco-designer, who works with 3D-printed materials, wants to make use of bioprinting techniques to ensure her fashion label has an environmental footprint of zero. “Consumers of today buy for one occasion and fast fashion is so accessible,” she explains. “With the need to keep up with weekly trends, it makes it hard to recycle and upcycle garments.
“We have doubled our waste from the last 20 years and I want to fight back, using bioprinting technology to create a fabric grown from cells that is beneficial for the environment.”
Charne taught herself CAD (computer-aided design) to print the butterflies that make up her dress “fabric”, and used 3D animation to figure out how to connect the pieces together. The Canberra-based fashion designer graduate has shown her ankle-length, 3D-printed dress at Canada’s Vancouver Fashion Week. “For one butterfly to be printed it takes five and a half hours… and the dress consists of 130 to 150 butterflies,” she laughs.
Skills like understanding how people use technology (usability), graphic design and 3D printing are in growing demand. You don’t need to be an expert – all the information is online, right at your fingertips. The opportunities to teach yourself have never been better.
– Heather Catchpole
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Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.