Paris pop-up store immortalises shoppers with 3D printed figurine

A new pop-up shop in the hip Marais district of Paris is giving people the opportunity to immortalise themselves with a tiny printed 3D figurine for the not so tiny price of 230 euros ($286).

The studio, called "Le Moimee Store", hails itself as the world's first specialising in 3D portraits. It allows customers to print a figurine 1/12th their size, in whatever pose they like, wearing their favourite clothes and accessories.

"We think of it as giving new life to the portrait," said Sylvie Roche, the project director.

But it's a portrait with a different perspective.

"You know what you look like in a picture, but the day you see your 'Moimee' you go 'Wow, I look like that'?" said Roche.

The Moimee studio has just opened to the public, and is a venture of The Vibrant Project, a company specialising in digital and interactive art installations.

Before its official opening, the company held a contest called "Le Peuple des Cours" or "The People in the Courtyard", where participants could win one 3D printed version of themselves, and have a second one used in a special art installation representing the Marais neighbourhood.

So far, about 150 winners have been immortalised as figurines and about 15 people have come to purchase them at the pop-up shop.

The new store hopes to surf the wave of 3D printing, which is fast becoming the hot new trend—as well as big business.

According to research firm Gartner, 3D printing is one of the top 10 strategic technology trends for 2015, with global shipments of printers expected to double by then.

Impulse wedding purchase

The small Moimee studio is located in an outdoor courtyard next to the BHV, one of Paris' top department stores, and is surrounded by coffee bars, sandwich stands and faux-fur-covered lounge chairs.

Model figurines line the walls of the shop, and 3D printers sit in the window. Neon signage gives the place a modern feel.

Frederic Saunier, 48, who was in Paris on holiday from the south of France with his fiancee Valerie, 47, decided to have a figurine printed for the top of their wedding cake.

"We saw it on the news and said: 'Why not?'" said Saunier.

The couple was dressed casually for the photo-shoot that would begin the printing process of their figurine, and planned to hold hands or embrace as the 50 cameras captured the image that would eventually be "printed" for the top of their tiered cake.

"At first we thought it was too expensive, but we figured we would do it anyway," said Saunier.

The price for one figurine is 230 euros for a "double-dipped finish", 245 euros for a "waxed finish", the latter being more detailed. For two people it's 345 and 360 euros respectively.

After the initial photo-shoot, the images are uploaded to software for retouching. The figurine is then painstakingly printed, layer by layer, and the colours are developed and sealed. Clients receive their mini-me in about three weeks.

The Moimee Store sees a variety of clientele come through their doors.

"Very different people come in," said Roche. "Most people want to fix a moment in their life that's very important."

Drop-in shoppers are more rare, with most clients planning their figurines in advance.

"Most of the casual shoppers are foreigners," said Roche.

"I don't know many people in France who would come and drop 1,000 euros on four figurines," she said, referring to a group of Mexican tourists who recently purchased four 3D figurines on a whim.

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© 2014 AFP

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