Fashion designers of all ages now have an opportunity to make a statement with Makies: customizable, 3D-printed dolls developed by MakieLab.
The United Kingdom-based company allows customers to digitally prototype their own 10-inch fashion dolls and then MakieLab manufactures the doll via 3D printing techniques. For its creative approach to toy-making, MakieLab has been recognized as the inaugural Autodesk Inventing the Future recipient for February.
Earlier this month, Autodesk changed the name and focus of its monthly customer recognition series from Inventor of the Month to Inventing the Future to reflect the breadth of its present-day customer base. Autodesk is seeking candidates each month from its Manufacturing customer base through a brief Q&A interview about the company’s business, products and inventive spirit. Here’s what MakieLab’s CEO Alice Taylor had to say about her company:
Autodesk: What does your company develop, and why is it important to the world?
Taylor: We make 3D printed toys, using digital interfaces — apps or games. Our first product is Makies, a customizable doll and the world's first 3D printed toy at retail, with full safety certification for kids 3 and older.
Makies themselves are 3D printed on-demand, and we also make all sorts of furniture and accessories to suit, often at the request of Makies owners (or owners to be!). We also like to offer our clothing patterns and 3D shapes with a customer, for at-home crafting and building.
Makies are designed to encourage making, creativity and self-expression in their owners. We make every effort to build Makies to the highest quality, to be inspiring and stereotype-breaking: a toy to create and cherish for a long, long time. Each toy is custom to her or his owner: we're calling it original toys for original people!
Autodesk: How has adopting technology helped your business evolve?
Taylor: Our business is built on new manufacturing technology, on CAD and we’re also designing a game that will allow a player to make a doll from their own avatar. It's that trifecta that produces the unique-to-each-user toy, custom built on-demand. I think the combination is what's getting us some attention, which is fantastic when we're up against the multi-million-dollar marketing budgets of our competitors. We're going for attention-getting at the moment before out-and-out profitability, because we're still in the early-startup phase: it's proof of demand and product fit that's important right now.
Profitability is a factor of takeup, scale and efficiency. We've got all the right shapes in our sales charts at the moment, having just had a great holiday season and a strong January to boot. So 2014 is about bringing our products to a wider, more international audience and dialing up that brand recognition.
Autodesk: What Autodesk software do you use and why?
Taylor: Autodesk has been a brilliant partner to work with since our inception, and without them I can't imagine how Makies would have come to pass, to be honest. We use Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Inventor 3D design software to do everything from sculpting and creating to rigging and animating our characters. The toy engineering is done separately in CAD and blended with the character meshes (using our own custom software) to produce the finished toy.
Autodesk: Where do you see your business five years from now? In 10 years?
Taylor: In five years, I see MakieLab having multiple international workshops and manufacturing done more locally, on-demand, on all the continents. We'll also have much more than one toy-game intellectual property (IP) line. Makies are already doing brilliantly, and we're getting interest from all sorts of potential partners in developing further toy-game IP, perhaps with existing IP or building new IP, ready for "game, toy, TV and more" from the get-go.
Customizable toys have so much potential: from the simple naming of a toy, to unique characters and shapes, and all the way to unique shapes based on digital achievements like leveling up a game character. This is a totally new frontier for toys. MakieLab has great ambition to be the most creative toy-game company since our friends in Denmark with the bricks.
Autodesk: What does being a ________ mean to you? [You fill in blank with your occupation.]
Taylor: Being a Makie means going your own way, choosing to express yourself, making your own fashion, making your own mark. Fixing things, mixing things, remixing things and pixie-ing things too, when you feel like it. Celebrating the original in us all...
Do you think your company has what it takes to be recognized by Autodesk for Inventing the Future? If so, send in your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.