Beyond the Interface is a fashion-tech series that explores the vibrant spectrum of next-gen designers and artists in the web3 industry. The series provides an inside look into the digital ecosystem’s most promising names and explores the radical shifts challenging all creative practices.
For the first installment, Hypebae spoke with Rohan Mirza, a 21-year-old designer whose 3D printed, prosthetic-like jewelry turns humans into mythological beings. In a dazzling conversation, the creative walked us through his first wearable collection, opinions on transhumanism and collaborating with Jean Paul Gaultier.
We can all agree the future is such a complex and abstract idea. For some, it is something that is to come, while for others it is something they are already living in. With concepts like blockchain, DNA editing, post-humanism and climate change becoming prevalent talking points, one needs to decide whether this future looks like a utopia or dystopia. However, there is only so much we can predict as the future is unknown and unexpected.
Rohan Mirza, a 3D artist from Paris, likes to see it as a sci-fi-inspired journey. The creative, who refers to his creations as prosthetics, has an inherent curiosity for diving into cyberspace and gaming as a source of inspiration. Through his work, Mirza encourages us to seek new possibilities of the human form and to embark on a journey between reality and fiction.
His creative practice is not driven by futurology or anticipation but by human connection and accessibility. Mirza's new collection, available at Ap0cene, is derived from tangible accessories that have been entirely modeled in 3D, just like the accompanying campaign visuals. The range seeks to connect us to the digital world by offering jewelry that aesthetically robotizes us.
Scroll down below to read our interview with Rohan Mirza.
What inspired you to start your journey as a 3D jewelry designer?
I have always been interested in computers, video games and all things digital. So this passion, one way or another, ended up influencing my way of perceiving art and design. 3D rendering appeared to me as the perfect tool to express my creativity and ideas.
Why is it important for you to look at the future to inspire your creations?
It is hard for me not to be interested in it. I am always wondering what it will bring and, more importantly, how to create it. My work is oriented towards this concept, specifically, the idea of human representation. It feels very special to take the human body as a starting point and imagine what we will look like in the long term. I try to look at the future with positive eyes, I imagine a better world in which we are happy and thanks to technology we have enhanced our abilities. This might be a utopian view, but it reassures me.
Why do you find the digital world so fascinating? How does it influence your creations in terms of structure, jewelry, colorways, texture and so on?
First of all, the digital world is very practical. I am not very good with my hands, so working digitally allows me to start over, test and change things quickly. Also, the freedom that comes with 3D modeling is really vast. Every single thing I imagine can be reproduced on my computer within a day and printed the following one, even the tiniest detail.
Who or what is the Rohan Mirza muse?
I don't necessarily have a muse, I am inspired by my surroundings, the people I meet and the people I work with.
What does the metaverse look like to you?
The way I envision it is heavily influenced by the book Ready Player One. I see it as a parallel and highly connected world, in which everyone can be whatever they want and be who they really are. The idea of spending my time in a virtual world doesn't bother me, I don't make a distinction between "physical" and "virtual", I consider the moments I have on the internet as real and as important as those outside my room. It's the interactions with other humans that matter to me, not the form they take.
What does your creative process look like, from initial ideas to rendering the final product? Do Web3/fiction value systems influence your practice?
My creative process is quite chaotic. I often spend hours trying to find inspiration and nothing might come to me. But then, all of the sudden, an idea comes from nowhere and starts to obsess me. I then write down words to describe it and produce a few drawings to later develop them in 3D. What I enjoy about this process is that the initial idea never tends to be the final one. I enjoy the journey of enhancing my craft and exploring the possibilities of design. I am still learning Blender with each new prototype. Evolving as an artist is what gives me the most pleasure.
How was collaborating with Jean Paul Gaultier, especially with the brand's Vasarely-inspired collection, which turns '90s icons into future cyber wear?
The project's creative director Loïse and I were contacting many different brands for the styling of our campaign. Jean Paul Gaultier was the first one to reply to us and upon receiving their Cyber lookbook we knew it was meant to be. Besides, the Vasarely print is a very important reference to my work that I always include in my mood boards, so having the opportunity to actually incorporate it in this campaign was amazing.
Walk us through the process of creating a digital campaign.
We worked with 3D artist Erwin, who is a very talented creative and was able to perfectly bring our vision to life. The most challenging thing was translating the process of putting a physical campaign together digitally. The models are digital representations of real humans as avatars or as I like to call them, alter-egos. We were also able to play with humans' abilities by doing it this way, illustrating surreal body contortionism that resembles the designs' silhouettes.
What do you want people to feel when they wear your creations?
I would like them to feel confident and powerful, like when a video game character finds an artifact that gives them powers. I would like these accessories to increase people's "HP." The goal of this collection was being able to produce tangible accessories that reflect our universe and futuristic aesthetics. As a young designer, it has always been very important for me to be able to share my work and to see it worn by people. That's why this first release is very important to me.
Offering a product that is accessible to everyone has been a big part of this capsule collection. Why was that important to you?
If this collection took so long to come out, it's because I was waiting to make a product that could be offered to everyone. As a young adult, I know it's hard to find unique pieces that you can afford, so I wanted to talk to people who are like me and with whom I could ask for feedback. Last year I released a few pieces that were quite expensive because my production system was too complex. This time, I'm very happy to be able to offer my creations at a more accessible price point.
What does your future look like?
I would like to look like a human/robot in a few years. I hope to be able to implant chips under my skin, digital lenses and AirPods connected to my brain. I know, totally rational!