Category Archives: Blog Ine

Memories in 2D and 3D

In the Netherlands one of the well-known photo print services is operated by HEMA, a famous Dutch retail store. Besides regular prints and photo albums their collection includes several photo-gifts: they print photos on mugs, T-shirts, calendars or puzzles. In a sense these are examples of ways to “materialise memories”. The items are still photo-based mementos, but with a three-dimensional aspect that makes the photos tangible and more visible in the home.


Recently HEMA added a new service to their online store which could take the materialisation of memories in 3D forms to a whole new level: HEMA now offers a 3D-printing service. Of course HEMA isn’t the first to offer 3D printing to consumers. Shapeways, for instance, has been doing this for years. Their website offers an enormous collection ranging from gadgets and gimmicks to cutlery and jewellery. Designing an object from scratch for 3D-printing requires quite some expertise but their collection also includes designs that can be easily personalised with names or patterns. This is also the approach HEMA takes. You could therefore argue that HEMA’s service is not very novel; however, the fact that HEMA is such a well-known and mainstream store could make a big difference in making 3D printing more visible and available to the general public. At the moment the service is limited to the personalisation of bracelets and phone-covers. But as 3D printing is evolving fast, what could this service offer in the future to create mementos of our favourite memories?

Marathon Trophy
The trophy of the Eindhoven Marathon in print. Click for a report on the process (in Dutch only).

During the Eindhoven Marathon a unique memento was created for one athlete: the winner received a printed trophy which might help him remember his achievement.  The beautiful trophy is based on the marathon route and made by Eindhoven based designers of “Van Alles wat ontwerp” a group of TU/e Industrial Design alumni. 3D printing takes time; but rather than a downside  the designers made this time the strength of their process. The trophy was designed to be finished in the time of last year’s marathon making it a race against the fastest runner of this year.


Replica of Marit Bjorgen
Printing mementos to remember recent events

You may never win such a trophy as memento yourself, but you may wish to materilise athletes who do. On you can order a replica of some of the gold medalists of the winter Olympics in Sochi. The miniatures are designed with care and closely resemble the athletes.

Having a miniature athlete is fun, but creating a mini-replica of yourself must be even better.
That is what a group of designers in Spain must have thought. They designed an installation allowing tourists on the Ramblas to print a souvenir of themselves. In between the many street artists on Barcelona’s famous street was a pedestal on which people could strike a pose, be scanned and, with the combination of a Kinect and a CNC 3D printer, take home a miniature representation of themselves. The figurines are quicker, cheaper and a bit more abstract than the athletes but make great and original souvenirs.

Replica Embryo
Technological advancements enable creating replicas of the invisible.

It is not even necessary to limit this process to adults who can pose for a scan. Fasotec, a company in Japan, creates 3D representations of unborn babies based on MRI scans. For a little under a thousand euro, parents-to-be can order a transparent belly-shaped object with a floating white foetus in it. These mementos look rather surreal and might become even creepier the closer the technique can resemble reality in the future. Creating mementos on a more abstract level could lead to more elegant results.

Loci create sculptures based on your travels. You can input airports, or they can be retrieved from your foursquare logins, to create a sculpture of how you traveled the world. Placed on a map, it precisely shows where you’ve been. But I especially like how they are such elegant sculptures when looked at without the map. This shows how a materialised memento could take a shape that only has meaning for its creator. In this case the translation from data to sculpture is done through an app; making sure people don’t require any advanced modelling skills to create their 3D printed mementos. Easy to use apps combined with the accessibility of 3D printing through general stores such as HEMA could be the start of many new ways to create mementos of our favourite memories, going far beyond printing a funny picture on a coffee mug.

Abstract representations of memories can create elegant sculptures.

An honest online post

Let me be honest with you: for the biggest part of last week I had no idea what to write this blog about. But sometimes a theme simply emerges; that’s why I write about honesty today.

Last week, Mendel shared a great collection of honest Instagram images. In the blog, Drew Hoolhorst explains that Instagram didn’t suddenly change us all into photographers who see the beauty in simple things but rather into giant liars. His collection of honest Instagrams nicely shows how pictures without context can easily be misinterpreted. We think somebody is making a beautiful beach walk but in stead feels lonely and cold.

Honest Instragram

However, this contrast between reality and images is not caused by accident; people often intentionally display an unrealistic positive image of themselves online. As a survey by the Huffington Post showed we feel pressured to portray our ideal selves online for everyone to see. 40 percent of social media users admitted they often post things to improve their image.

Trigger - Stijn Zoontjens
Still from the concept video of ‘Trigger’

This missing link between our offline and online identities was also seen by one of Industrial Design’s bachelor students, Stijn Zoontjens, he proposes an alternative social network concept: Trigger. The concept focusses on capturing and sharing more everyday aspects of our life, being open  and honest to a small network to share how we are really doing. This could result in a social network that better completes our “offline-self”.

Postcard Secrets
An innocent postcard secret

Wether online or offline, everybody has secrets. I spotted a great offline representation of these secrets at a coffee table in our faculty: the book Briefgeheimen: postcard secrets. I’ve loved this project every since I saw it in the newspaper NRC years ago: a project to give people the opportunity to send in their secrets on a postcard. Over the years thousands of secrets have been collected. Some are shocking, very serious or downright disgusting but some display the smallest, innocent secrets. I love to find these little revelations, such as the person who admits to walk up the stairs on “all-fours” occasionally, and see which part of themselves people never display but finally share, anonymously.

While looking through the book, I suddenly connected the dots: all these concepts show the way we struggle with reflecting our identities. The concepts raise the question how honest we are or want to be on our social networks. Of course this is not unique to online social interactions; in our everyday conversations we say the same three words each time “I am fine”, even if we don’t always mean them. But somehow the online variation of social interactions seems to emphasise exactly this aspect of our interaction; it is a one-to-many interaction and therefor often not honest in showing our everyday lives.

This might not only effect the way others see us, or the way others remember us, but also the way we remember ourself. What will the effect of (dis)honesty in our media be on our own memories?

TwoSidedFacebookI once commented on my own Facebook post about an awesome week to explain the down-sides of the same week; trying to slightly break this unrealistic stream of positivism I saw on my own wall as well. Although I say in the post “I’ll probably forget about these negative aspects due to selective memory”, the post has had the opposite effect: I now remember these aspects as well. I remember the small annoying things about that week that I most often forget.

But do we want to remember both sides of the story? How honest do we want our memories to be? Do we prefer remembering the good times? Should we capture our daily experiences through rose-tinted glasses and make sure our media reflect only the best of our lives? Or do we prefer a more honest archive for ourselves while displaying the positive collection to the public?