Picture an artist-in-residence. What do you see? A painter or perhaps a sculptor working at a university, foundation or museum? What about a designer building robots and growing garments in a fab lab?
Artist residencies give makers supportive environments to explore their craft, to push boundaries and innovate using resources made available to them. Increasingly, in recent years, artist-in-residence arrangements are happening at tech companies, where artists are invited to create and experiment using the latest technologies.
Last year, Dassault Systèmes brought on our first ever artist-in-residence, Kate Reed. A Boston-based designer of wearable technology, she works out of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab’s Fab Lab in Waltham.
Reed started making wearables as a kid. She started building robots, then started putting them on the body. This was before wearables were ubiquitous, before Apple Watches and FitBits.
“Over and over again, I was just fascinated with how can we merge man and machine and have wearable computers, wearable robots, wearable everything,” Reed said. “The idea back then was just how can we make man and machine merge in this perfect way. And I think it has changed a little bit now that we’re all wearing wearables all the time.”
Since building her first wearable computer at age 13, Reed’s designs and inventions have been featured at the White House, New York Fashion Week, MIT Museum and more. Her biggest inspiration is nature and recent works include biomimicry, biodesign and biomimetic wearable computers.
“The way nature solves its own problem has a lot of applications to our human problems as well,” says Reed. “This question of merging robotics and humans has always been about doing it in a way that feels natural. And so that’s what I’m up to now. Growing interfaces on our body, growing technology on our body and really modeling the elements and principles of nature to create computers.”
One recent work, the Beyond Biomimicry collection, is a collection of wearable devices grown through interspecies collaboration. That means the various pieces were grown in part computationally by understanding models and systems of nature and in part physically, with living organisms.
“It’s not just copying what’s happening, but it’s actually understanding the models and systems of nature so we can begin to simulate it and work with it computationally and physically,” Reed says. “It’s about growing new devices and growing new interfaces.”
For Reed, a highlight of the project is having humans, computers and the natural world all speaking the same language – Dassault Systèmes’ solutions. It’s an example of inviting nature into the digital world to achieve new design processes that will help build a more sustainable future.
“As designers we need to listen, not only to our customers and our stakeholders, but to our planet,” Reed says. “Because our planet is crying out for help. As designers, we can create designs that are grown not manufactured, to rekindle our relationship between humans, computers and the natural world. I picture a world that is all grown and living and constantly evolving and changing instead of just being a manufactured world and that’s something that is absolutely possible with Dassault Systèmes.”
Becoming Dassault Systèmes first artist-in-residence
Kate Reed might be the first ever artist-in-residence at Dassault Systèmes, but it’s a natural fit. Her vision of humans, machines and the natural world speaking the same language melds beautifully with the 3DS mission of harmonizing product, nature and life.
When the pandemic hit and Reed no longer had access to her studio, she decided to take the leap and enroll in Fabricademy. There, she caught the attention of Abhishek Bali, the senior manager of the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab in North America.
“I saw her portfolio of work, it struck me that Kate is really working around harmonizing life and nature,” said Bali. “Her main line of thinking is how can we get inspired from nature and create beautiful products that work.”
After Reed completed Fabricademy, Bali approached her with the idea of becoming an artist-in-residence at Dassault Systèmes. By that point, her work and participation in 3DS communities inspired the creation of a “Biomemetic Wearable Computers” community.
“When I saw the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab and the machines available, it completely changed my view of what was possible,” said Reed. “The 3DEXPERIENCE Lab is the perfect place to play and explore.”
Reed recently completed her latest project, called INHANCE, meaning New Interfaces to connect Humans, Nature and Computers. It’s a collection of three interfaces – the Dandelion Hat, the Armadillo Dress and the Shell Dress – created through machine learning, digital manufacturing and algorithmic design on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
Another cool detail: The INHANCE collection showcases the next iteration of the PLA materials originally used for the AURORA installation displayed as part of the Waste Age exhibit at the Design Museum in London.
Follow along with Kate Reed and INHANCE at www.biomimetic.io