Dripping eyewear à la Salvador Dalì, blooming lipsticks like in a post-human utopia where nature re-appropriates its space, luggage situated on rocky land in a different galaxy, handbags as archeological finds.
Ada Sokół’s imaginary worlds are boundless and so are her technical skills and 3D feats. She has quickly become one of the most sought-after young talents toying with the hyper-realistic power of 3D design, having worked with Prada, Valentino, Burberry, Nike, Rimowa, Gentle Monster, and more.
A bubbly and candid 29-year-old, she meets WWD at Milan’s Dynamic Art Museum, where her artwork “Melissa” was on display as part of the exhibition “A Journey From Renaissance to Crypto Art + AI” and before catching a flight back to Warsaw, Poland, where she’s based.
She confesses she got into 3D art and fashion almost by chance.
By her own admission, she was uncertain about her walk in life, giving fashion design and fashion communications a try. None really struck a chord. Renderings and computer-generated animations did.
Subtle, feminine, magic is how she describes her work on the website of her Warsaw-based studio, Ada Sokół Art Lab.
In person she delves deeper.
“We can find beauty in every object and every setting, so this is something I’m really interested in exploring… Like showing ugly things in very beautiful ways that are perceived as beautiful,” she says. By ugly things she means a butt, armadillos and insects, to name a few.
“Normally I’m working with lots of animals and natural [elements] so there’s certain things you wouldn’t consider really beautiful. Take, for example, a butt — I want to show it in my own different way to change the perception of it,” she offers.
She credits fashion for forging her dreamy aesthetics in which rocky lands and sprouting fungi, for instance, combine to create hyper-realistic and otherworldly flairs.
“I think my whole sense of aesthetics actually came from fashion and fashion editorials especially and even still [life] photography. To be honest I’ve been building my visual identity on editorials from photographers that I admired, and I wanted to kind of develop their ‘worlds,’” she says. “It may have become a bit more magical, but the base was fashion photography and that was my biggest inspiration.”
Her directional approach has won over several luxury brands, which, she says, have allowed her wild imagination to run freely.
“At the beginning it was probably harder to kind of push, or propose my vision but right now it’s getting better and better. We almost don’t have right now clients that are not [aligned] with our vision and art direction. I think it really changed and pivoted from me being just a technical girl for brands to being a full-time art director with all my works,” she explains.
The projects have ranged from Gentle Monster’s dripping eyewear, which she remembers fondly because the company allowed her to “do crazy things in 3D,” to Prada’s 2022 chameleon-featuring animation dedicated to the hit fragrance “Paradoxe,” which she describes as “a huge dream coming true.” Sokół wishes she could have tied up with Gucci, feeling that the surreal visual identity championed by former creative director Alessandro Michele aligned with her own. This month she’s debuting a new project with Valentino.
Three-D design is both a technical and creative job and Sokół doesn’t want to lose her grip on either. What about AI? Platforms such as Midjouney have been gaining steam, opening the back door to the same space as Sokół’s to more creators and design enthusiasts.
“I’ve been using [Midjourney] but I’m not really a fan of these kinds of software. And lately I’ve been trying to train my own AI to kind of simulate my style, but I didn’t succeed. It’s not really possible for AI to catch my style,” she says.
Embedding AI will ease some of the technical hurdles and hassles, but there is little chance it will replace her job, Sokół contends.
“Everyone is [scared],” she says. “In a way it’s very interesting and exciting but on the other side we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s scary. AI will take a lot of our jobs, as a society, as a whole… Even right now what happens with music artists, we can simulate any voice… That will happen with visual artists, too, but as of now it’s still visible when it’s done only by AI and when there’s human input,” she says.
“I think it’s important to choose our AI tools very wisely to make our job easier but not allow it to take our jobs and projects. Art is strictly connected to our emotions as humans, so I’d never want AI to create the artwork itself,” she adds.