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Mari Kussman is at the cutting-edge cusp of style and tech. A designer at heart who was raised in Tokyo, Mari was inspired by her favorite fashion visionaries to study at the Bunka School and then New York’s FIT. After working at several fashion houses, Mari followed her fascination with science and technology to become creative director of Nanotronics Imaging, a Future-focused microscopy company. Here, she speaks to us about robots, 3D printing and the future of nanotechnology.

  1.  How is your job creating a better Future?

    I’m the creative director at Nanotronics Imaging. We make microscopes that have super-resolution capabilities and image recognition through deep learning algorithms. We take an optical microscope system and improve it through machine learning software. We can detect down to a nanometer without destroying a sample, as can occur with electron microscopes. Our applications are predominantly in automated semiconductor wafer inspection at the moment. The image recognition software can be trained to detect defects and features – so it is constantly improving. It is much more accurate than the human eye.

  2. Have you used the microscope for any creative purposes lately?

    We used our microscope to create a VR movie of a moth at various levels of magnification, down to the molecular and cellular levels. This was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival Disruptive Innovation Awards. It is now available on mobile by using a google cardboard headset, you load up the video on your phone, slide it into the headset, and the video will come to life. It feels as if you are right there in the room looking at the moth until, of course, it goes into a scale the human eye can’t see.

  3. Are robots going to take over? We keep hearing how much smarter they are becoming.

    I am no authority on AI, but I think we’re pretty far away from that happening. What people expect empathic AI to be able to do, combined with the reductionist approach to replicating human behavior in robots, makes it clear that we haven’t arrived at the point where computers will be replacing us entirely. They will replace increasingly more automatable jobs every day though.

  4. Tell us about your work on the fashion front.

    My background is as a designer. I worked at Helmut Lang for a few years, then went on to be a director of a label called Kimberly Ovitz. One of the reasons I left Helmut Lang, even though it was perfectly my aesthetic, was because the fashion industry is very rigid with trying new Materials. I went to a smaller company and we had the first off the runway consumer collection of 3D-printed jewelry. We collaborated with Shapeways and had jewelry available to purchase the same evening that images were uploaded to We had incredible customization possibilities with materials like flexible nylon that could wrap around your body.

  5. What other interesting startups have you worked with?

    I co-founded a company called The Crated that, does a lot of research in wearable technologies. As one project, we incorporated photochromatic ink on digitally printed garments in collaboration with When indoors, the garment would appear normal, then when you go out into the sunlight, a new pattern emerges.

  6. Tell us about your fashion “uniform.” We think uniforms will be the only fashion choice in the future.

    Sure. My hair is always dyed a different color – pink, blue, anything – and I wear a lot of black and white. Consistently combat boots, Doc Martens in black, white, gray or beige. I’ve always been a minimalist goth, I identify strongly with the protagonist from William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition.