These 3D printed clutch bags inspired by kelp look like treasures born of the sea

Humans have proven to be creative and imaginative creatures, producing ideas and designs that can blow minds and inspire spirits. Despite all our advancements and achievements, however, we still can’t hold a candle to Mother Nature’s designs. We can try to approximate those designs, though, or at least utilize naturally-occurring patterns to inspire our own works. These mini clutch bags, for example, are evidently inspired by organic patterns and structures, like something from underwater flora and fauna. Such designs are extremely difficult and expensive to produce using traditional methods. Ironically, it is more expensive and more wasteful if complicated designs like these are produced in small amounts. These kelp-inspired fashion accessories, however, are not only intricate but also sustainable, and they are made possible using yet another marvel of human ingenuity, the 3D printer.

Designer: Julia Koerner

3D printers are truly works of technological wonder that opened the floodgates of creativity for many people. Although it’s still not as fast and as ubiquitous as something like a Star Trek replicator, it has already paved the way for designs and products that would have been not only unfeasible but even impossible using traditional manufacturing techniques. More importantly, it has also given designers the opportunity to create and test different options that include sustainable materials and nature-inspired designs.

This Kelp Mini clutch is one such example of such possibilities turned into something tangible and marketable. The organic patterns are based on 3D scans of natural topologies from kelp collected from the Malibu coastline in California. The unique geometries not only give the clutch a certain natural charm but also make the bag a little bit more usable. The voids created by the patterns not only let you have a slight view of what’s inside the bag, it also makes it more lightweight.

Such a design would have been nearly impossible with normal manufacturing processes, especially given the material used to make the bag. Like all other products from the brand, the Kelp Mini is made from sustainable materials like bioplastics. All parts of the bag, including the hinge, closure clasp, and interior pocket, are 3D printed, making the clutch completely sustainable.

More than just an example of nature-inspired design, this small clutch is a demonstration of the potential 3D printing technologies. It allows not only the use of sustainable and unconventional materials but also allows more efficient and economical production of items that don’t rely on massive pipelines. You only print what you need or what has been ordered, reducing waste on all fronts. It even changes the very design process, allowing designers to make rapid changes and present the customer with a virtual version of the design, all before even a single part has been printed.