Introducing Westhill LABS: Pushing the boundaries of our design through experiments with local creatives.
Westhill LABS has been created as a safe haven for experimentation. It is an arm of Westhill born out of the notion that design without rigid definition can achieve real, organic beauty. Because it’s often true creatives are at their best without borders. When they are free to explore and hone in on their own natural processes without worry for meeting ultra-specific guidelines.
It’s also about the people. Westhill LABS wants to meet, feature and explore new and exciting designers. Art is always at the forefront: we only get there with new people bringing new ideas and new experiments.
Each version of Westhill LABS will feature known and unknown local creatives, speaking to their story, their creative practices, and their techniques.
Westhill LABS is proud to present their first creative partner: Mikka Byarugaba.
We reached out to Mikka after being intrigued by the conceptual, unique vision spread across his @Mikkapedia Instagram page. He is a self-confessed digital artist in the broadest sense. After speaking with him, it didn’t take long to figure out that Mikka was the perfect creative companion to kick-start Westhill LABS. What we didn’t expect was the beautiful discoveries we would all would make along the way.
“Working on this collaboration with Westhill has been such a pleasure. The majority of my artworks exist within a world of constant experimentation of mediums. I was pretty excited when Westhill reached out to me to design jewellery under their new LABS arm.
I had never created jewellery before, so it was quite the learning curve. I had to figure out the process of designing jewellery from scratch.”
“This collaboration was a chance for me to express my artwork in a new, physical medium, born from the 3D software that I usually use as a digital artist.”
This is what made Mikka the perfect creative partner to kick-off Westhill LABS, it was his parallel values and ethos towards design and experimentation that made the whole experience a genuinely rewarding one.
“Towards the beginning of the collaborative process we came to a mutual agreement that we wanted the theme to be centred around the idea of organic forms. We wanted the pieces to evoke the shape and texture of the metals (gold and silver) in their raw form. The challenge for me was to figure out how I’d express that within the 3D software I was using.”
“In my personal art I had been experimenting with 3D inflation and it is a technique I wanted to apply to the ring making. I started off with creating the base mesh of the ring, then applied a plethora of spherical gravitational fields simulating inflation, pausing the animation to a point that I liked best.”
“Allowing the 3D software to implement these simulations really forced me to embrace the chaos that multiple gravitational fields cause. I worked with the imperfections, as that’s ultimately part of the organic process.”
“After the simulation had been applied to both rings, I had to use a different 3D software to sculpt the ring to be more physically comfortable, while keeping remnants of the simulation itself. To help with the comfortability of the rings, I used a classic band ring shape provided by Westhill. You can see the demarcation between my design and the classic band, demonstrating the collaboration in a physical sense.”
By starting with a classic band ring that we provided – and having Mikka build from that – really gave us a model to use for Westhill LABS well into the future. Having a raw design that he turned into something unique, using such intense digital methods, has been great to witness.
“Whilst the rings were created using the same inflation technique, I manipulated them in differing ways to produce aesthetically different outcomes. The band ring has hand set blue sapphires and a very molten look. I think there’s a lot more femininity that shines through in the design, which I love. The signet ring has a thickness and weight which allows it to really showcase the beauty of the precious metals.”
“I have a great amount of respect for Westhill. I learnt a lot from the entire process, and I think it provides a common ground on which we as creatives can understand each other better. For some time now Mikkapedia has been about connecting with people in different creative fields, creating something that utilises two distinctly separate skill sets. That’s the beauty of the process and it aligns with the beauty of Westhill LABS.
We hope you enjoyed the first feature for Westhill LABS. Explore Mikka's designs through this link.
Words by Sam Somers.