Sandra Misiak, a graduate of industrial design at the Gdansk Academy of Fine Arts, has taken up the subject of parametric design - she has written a special system for encoding meanings, thanks to which she is able to generate personalized jewelry. The system she proposed is a mathematical solution, based on specific data that is important to the person ordering the jewelry - dates, geographical coordinates, or words. And how is the jewelry made? We invite you to read an interview with the designer.
The presented project was created in 2022 as a master's thesis in the Experimental Design studio, under the direction of Professor Slawomir Fijalkowski.
system of encoding meanings
© Sandra Misiak
According to the Academy of Fine Arts graduate, the theme of her work is the systemic application of meaning codes to parametrically generated jewelry. The result of the work is a collection of parametric jewelry, which consists of ten objects, defining meanings specified by the author. The digital form was then realized in nine-carat gold using SLM (selective laser melting) 3D printing technology from powdered metal.
Various jewelry shapes generated by the code
© Sandra Misiak
interview with Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa Bies: Personalized jewelry is generated parametrically by a special meaning coding system, and then made by SLM 3D printing technology. You could say that it is created by a "computer," however, you were the one who had to write the code. So what was it like working on it?
Sandra Misiak: Working on the coding system was a very advanced and time-consuming process. I had to delve into both existing mathematical ways of coding data and those appearing in ancient Egyptian history. My basis for creating an information coding system was mathematics, being the queen of sciences. This relationship stemmed from my consideration of the human being, who is the indispensable link between anthropology and technology. In my work, I addressed the aspect of what touches the realm of humanity with what is the product of technology and computerization.
The pendant was made in nine-carat gold
© Sandra Misiak
Jewelry is an accessory, it has an aesthetic function, it is a form of satisfying human desires, determined by the need to define oneself. I transformed human values into numbers. This gave me many possibilities and ways to record data. I created an information coding system from scratch. So I referred to the mathematical sine curve [Latin: rhodonei] described by sine functions without phase angle in the polar coordinate system. The use of the sine curve in a three-dimensional dimension enabled me to generate compositions with coded meaning, consisting of a sequence of numbers that are relevant to my viewer. As a result, I was able to transform the geometry of the rhodonei curve using numerical translation and advanced algorithmic procedures. In fact, I reluctantly recall my intensive work on coding information. There were multi-page sketches, diagrams, bar notations, dots, geometric figures and other elements to help me combine numbers, letters or individual components of a set. I thought about the coding system every spare moment. It's a long process that eventually yields amazing results in the form of a new information coding system.
The author used a mathematical system of coding the entered data
© Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa: In that case, what shapes correspond to what values? Are you able to control the appearance of the pendants?
Sandra: Yes, I am able to control the appearance of the pendants. I have many tools at my disposal, which I use when generating the final form of the jewelry. When creating the meaning coding system, I also used mathematics from the field of trigonometry. I am able to change the parameters in individual values, visually adjusting the final form of the pendant. Moreover, when generating a parametric pendant, the algorithm creates a library of a minimum of twenty similar forms of the target model. This gives us the ability to choose and subordinate the form to the user's preferences. In addition, the generated model prepares for 3D printing using the SLS method. For this purpose, I change the thickness of such a mold and adjust it by weight for printing. Post processing of jewelry is associated with both the knowledge of 3D printing technology and goldsmith's workshop, with which all processing is associated.
parametrically generated jewelry
© Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa: How much freedom is there in this design, and how much is everything generated?
Sandra: This topic was an interesting and important issue from the perspective of the whole design process. I didn't want the line between design and technology to be blurred. The technology is supposed to be for us, not us for it. It was very easy to lose control in the process and ultimately have the algorithm prevail in my design decisions. That's why I created a system for encoding meaning from scratch. I controlled the way it was written, which I translated into programming language. I introduced a lot of additional variables into the system to ultimately achieve the desired effect. My design decisions were subjected to eternal trial, which often took me back to the beginning. The design of the parametric jewelry stems not only from the form itself, but also from the idea that guided me throughout the design process. I created an amulet of sorts, built on values that my recipient identifies with. It took a lot of work, analysis and observation for me to search for such meanings, to put myself in the place of my target user and learn both his needs and expectations. These are the elements that enhance the uniqueness of my jewelry.
The shape of the jewelry generates a code based on data, here GPS
© Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa: What shapes correspond to what values?
Sandra: Each shape is built on a sine curve. My user's values are the components of a dataset that I convert into individual parameters for my coding system. As a result, I am able to generate a form that is one of a kind. On the other hand, the probability of the algorithm generating two pendants that are the same is really small.
The individual date parameters are equivalent to the geometry of sine curves, which I embedded in Euclidean space. Using the appropriate algorithmic procedures, each given date generates a different geometry in this sphere. In this way, I obtained a number of mathematical combinations of variant sequences of digits that condition the spherical arrangement of the polar curve.
For example, I wrote the numbers forming the year from the selected user date in the bar system. With this solution, I gave certain preferences and attributes to the individual components of the year, which ultimately intensified the impact on the sine form.
Words are a composition of letters, divided by me into vowels and consonants, to which I have assigned appropriate attributes. The number of vowels determines the width of the interlacing strip of the polar rose, while consonants have a direct effect on the number of loops in a specific polar sphere.
Another element of the algorithmic system, described by numbers, is the geographic coordinates of a place in the world important to my audience. I used the principle of the GPS satellite navigation system, covering the globe, and determined the sphericity of the given user values. The parameters for the selected recipient's geographic coordinates determined a point on the geometric sphere I created. With this, I reconstructed the geographic coordinates on the sphere of the sine curve, which affect the bending in one direction of the sine form.
The shape is also influenced by the words
© Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa: If someone is interested in such jewelry, what information do they need to provide to order the pendant? You say that the code is not obvious - we do not read it or encrypt it, it requires a story - a mathematical and logical explanation. What does such an explanation consist of?
Sandra: In order to order such a pendant, the user has to specify at least one value that has special meaning for him. The system I created encodes three personal meanings. These are the date, a word/phrase and geographical coordinates.
The story of my jewelry stems from the recipient's personal story. It is his meanings that are encoded in the parametric form of the pendant. These types of values become an excuse to have a conversation, connect with the environment and build interpersonal relationships. My jewelry becomes a personal carrier of information about ourselves. A pendant can be deciphered if someone knows its code and is able to tell about it. However, how we encode this information is only a tool to create something truly unique.
Important dates for the orderer are transformed into jewelry
© Sandra Misiak
Dobrawa: What were the design difficulties, and what is the future of the project?
Sandra: The design difficulties were related to maintaining harmony and balance between the design work and the algorithm. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't want the line between design and technology to blur. Besides, creating a coding system from scratch is a very difficult and labor-intensive process, requiring creativity first of all, but also mathematical and logical thinking. As a designer, I had to get out of my comfort zone and start laying out my strategy for encrypting information.
Speaking of the future - in the perspective of further development of my project, the systemic application of meaning codes can be used with potential customers, expecting such a form of jewelry in the form of a necklace, in which their important date, content, word or coordinates of a particular place in the world is written. I hope that this kind of solution will open the way for me to realize myself in the field of programming and parametric design.
In addition, the systemic application of meaning codes may in the future address issues of measuring sensations, feelings and even experiences. Through the processes of human cognition, we can arrive at such complex records of potential user data, which would create a range of previously unrealized opportunities for programming and meaning coding. Today's science, which includes the fields of nanotechnology, neurotechnology and neuroimaging technology, can become the impetus for creating such algorithmic solutions that would take advantage of unlimited access to genetic information and biometrics of the target recipient. The mathematical system of encoding user meanings that I have developed represents a form of value innovation that, combined with the conventional practice of technological innovation, creates a new market demand.
The resulting series of parametric objects represents a certain form of expression in which I accentuate the personal history of my audience. Accordingly, I intend to expand my collection with new objects of contemporary jewelry that will allude to what has been created so far. What's more, working on how to encode values has enabled me to familiarize myself with the possibilities of information technology, using appropriate parametric programs. This has provided me with a knowledge base that I plan to further deepen, exploring further possibilities for algorithmic activities.
Dobrawa: Thank you for the interview.