Bernard Mitchell says that his and Krista Humphrey’s newest endeavour, QWRKhouse, is “a way to bring our creative side to light.” That’s not meant to be a pun, but it’s a very apt summary of the work that the Trail, B.C.–based design house is doing: using additive manufacturing (more commonly known as 3D printing), they’re creating stunning illuminated sculptures.

Humphrey is a designer who appreciates old-school tools (she still likes to hand-sketch her ideas) and admits she initially had an “aversion” to 3D printing. But once the pair nailed down an eco-friendly material (a bioplastic made from fermented plant starch) and started experimenting with the technology, the process turned out to be much more artistic than either of them expected. Mitchell compares it to a much older practice. “It’s almost like clay—we jump in digitally and play around,” he explains.

Mitchell and Humphrey are co-founders, but they typically tackle the sculpture designs separately; he draws inspiration from brutalist architecture and the forms of different sea creatures, while her work is influenced by movement and dance. They launched their first products last spring at Berlin Design Week, introduced their work to Vancouver in the fall at IDS and were finalists in our first annual WL Design 25 competition (page 31). The duo have big plans for the future… literally. “Our goal is to print them larger—we’re kind of limited by the equipment that we have, and I’d really like to see the work at metre scale or even larger in public spaces,” says Mitchell. Adds Humphrey: “We’re trying to infuse a little bit of levity into what can sometimes be a stuffy world.”

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