artists filippo nassetti and vincenzo reale — in collaboration with stratasys, empa, haratech and creative region linz and upper austria — have unveiled the thalassic masks, a project that focuses on re-thinking protective mask. 


reflecting on how our lives can be transformed by dramatic and sudden global events, the thalassic mask takes a medical product and transforms it into a design statement that aims to express our contemporary identities. 

filippo nassetti + vincenzo reale's thalassic masks express contemporary identities




the COVID-19 pandemic made protective masks and microbial filters an essential daily device for everyone around the world. when created, these commercials masks were not designed for the extensive use they undergo these days and neither do they engage with the urban environment, nor do they rethink human interactive or personal expression.


many believe that the ongoing pandemic, as well as climate change and the disruption of ecological environments, such as air pollution and transformations in the atmosphere, may see protective devices become a more essential extension of the human body in the future. drawing inspiration from marine forms, the thalassic mask combines biomimetic design techniques, additive manufacturing and physiological analysis to create a new breed of masks, as well as rethink the relationship between technology, in the form of wearable objects, and the human body.

filippo nassetti + vincenzo reale's thalassic masks express contemporary identities


marine forms inspired the design — hence the name thalassic — particularly organisms such as jellyfishes, corals and sea anemones. these organisms are able to filtrate water and extract oxygen and nutrients from it. thanks to their inner physical structure, they act as biological filters and are capable of actively modifying the environment they live in.


with this in mind, the team wanted to embed the thalassic masks with the capability of filtering the environment while highlighting how an object with a function — in this case protection — can also become a means of self-expression.

filippo nassetti + vincenzo reale's thalassic masks express contemporary identities


‘the ability of filtrating the air and the environment through structure to a molecular level, such as natural organisms do, is generally very difficult to achieve with just a simple garment,’ comments the official webpage. ‘however, thanks to technologies such as 3D printing, it is now possible to define structures in an extremely precise and controlled manner. in thalassic’s particular case, thanks to the 3D printing techniques provided by stratasys® (Stratasys J850TM 3dFashionTM).

filippo nassetti + vincenzo reale's thalassic masks express contemporary identities


‘this way layer after layer, a 3D-printed polymer material was deposited on a very fine chiffon fabric, with the amount of flexibility, color and structure finely controlled by digital models. thermal studies of the different human head areas have been carried out by empa, partner of the project. the content of these maps was interpreted by digital algorithms allowing to adapt the distribution of the material on top of the garment, and modifying the inner structure and its property in order to augment the functionality of the resulting pieces. the ability to combine advanced digital design and manufacturing techniques, with the support data coming from experimental research, allowed thalassic to develop biomimetics methods, to emulate logics of natural systems and apply them to develop novel products.’


overall, the thalassic masks project is the perfect blend between art, design and technology. to some extent, the collection can be seen as a possible form of human evolution, shaped not by the slow process of biological changes, but by the extension and augmentation of the body through technology and the design of functional tools.

filippo nassetti + vincenzo reale's thalassic masks express contemporary identities


‘as the pandemic is changing the world, our identities, reflected in what we wear every day, are affected by that,’ the team concludes. ‘in that sense the scope of the thalassic masks project goes beyond the products themselves, but it is a reflection on how our lives are transformed by the dramatic and sudden global events of these years.’



project info:


name: thalassic masks
artists: filippo nassetti and vincenzo reale


technology partners

stratasys | creative director naomi kaempfer
stratasys | polyjet technology expert boris belocon
stratasys | demo team leader rnd testingyossi siso
stratasys | application engineerhila desheh
stratasys | technology used stratasys j850™ 3dfashion™
haratech | engineer, m&p engineeringguillaume clement
haratech | prototypingchristof jakowitsch
empa | senior scientistagnes psikuta
fashion & technology (ufg) design expertsander hofstee


refream hub linz

creative region linz & upper austria | manager hub linz verena traunmüller + claudia kappl
creative region linz & upper austria | lead financial manager georg tremetzberger
creative region linz & upper austria | communications manager wolfgang gumplmaier-mach
creative region linz & upper austria i lead project coordinatorgisa schosswohl


external consultancy

pattern prototyping: antonietta canta
tailoring: orhan london tailoring


photo and video

photographer: paul farnham
videographer: olga kott
stylist: zitafodor
grooming: jessica kell
talents: ayo + webster @ d1
pfion: vince @ mr talent
digital assistant: gaston torres
studio: lemonade factory