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Material Discoveries

Els Zijlstra & Philip Allin


Material Discoveries 1

Els Zijlstra & Philip Allin

A future for paper Aart van Bez

Paper Future Is there a future for paper? The disappearance of paper is (still) the subject of many discussions, for example in the print media industry. Publishers are being challenged to adapt to a digital future. At the same time, cardboard boxes have become the transport material for almost any shipment in the world, making paper one of the most accessible and widely distributed material resources across the world. From this point of view, paper can be said to 10

rule the world. To find out whether paper is future-proof it is worth having a closer look at projects that have paper at their heart. Paper Bicycles How to get from A to B? Israeli engineer Izhar Gafni had a simple idea, to build a bicycle entirely made of cardboard. Engineers told him this was impossible. He tried it anyway, and after many sleepless nights, multiple mistakes and countless prototypes he surprised

the world with a paper bicycle that has a production cost of around $9 to $12. It is worth browsing the internet to learn more about this mission (im)possible of a low-cost, 100% paper bicycle. Paper Bottles Most people try to keep paper dry but the creative minds at the US based Brand Image believe in a paper based water bottle. Their 360 paper water bottle idea is an attempt to address the problem of the 60 million plastic bottles that are thrown away daily in the United States (of which 86 % becomes garbage). This paper alternative is made from renewable, consumption-safe resources. It is fully recyclable as well as offering the possibility of differentiating between the colour of the bottles and even adding type directly onto the packaging with blind embossing. Paper Computers Recompute is a so called Low Impact Product (L.I.P.) designed to reduce environmental impact throughout its life span during manufacturing, ownership and disposal. The Recompute is made of die-cut cardboard profiles and uses less materials and parts during its manufacturing. Recomputes are to be usable for five years or more which is more than the average life span of the computers today (3-5 years). The traditional electronic waste issue of disposed computers is replaced by a takeback system with a simple (it is just cardboard after all) disassembly process that can be completed in minutes. Aart van Bezooyen

Left Snail poop colours Top Paper fish Above Paper bottle


“Mission (im)possible: a lowcost, 100% paper bicycle.�

Top A $10 carboard bicycle. Above Snail polish laboratory. Left Paper printed in 3D.


Material Discoveries

Paper Prototyping Did you think paper prototyping was old fashioned? Mcor Technologies from Ireland claims to offer the lowest cost, most ecofriendly, full colour paper 3D printers. These printers are able to print photo-realistic 3D parts with the resolution you would expect from a high-quality 2D colour printer. The paper parts are surprisingly robust and the machine itself is easy to use and office friendly. No dust and no fumes, so it easily fits into any office or school environment. This rather new 3D printer is already considered to be one of the best rapid prototyping solutions on the market today.

A Paper Future! The projects above demonstrate that the opportunities for paper in products, prototyping, recycling and even poetry are still far from exhausted. One of the best examples of the importance of paper is probably this book itself. This book is full of amazing, high-tech, sustainable and lightweight materials, are all presented on a rather common but very reliable material... paper. The fact that paper, in the shape of this book, has been used to get you and many other readers inspired with wonderful ideas is exactly what our future is made of. Ideas, delivered on paper, and sometimes made from paper. A paper future!

Paper Recycling Dutch designer Lieske Schreuder creates wonderful patterns by recycling paper with the help of snails. During her graduation project she discovered that snails have an appetite for paper and that their droppings take on the colour of the paper they eat. She started to study on what could be done with these droppings which resulted in two surprising colourful materials so called “Snail Poop Linoleum” and “Snail Poop Thread.” Since it takes seven snails about six days to create just one meter of thread, this a rather slow process. Nevertheless Lieske has already created several tiles and her first wall carpet – in full (poop) colour. Paper Poetry Silent Fish by Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters is a continuous study that started during the Wadden Sea project. At low tide the receding sea reveals animals and plants on the muddy surface along the coast. Trapped in the mud flats, fish that were once active and alive, turn into static objects. The project is not meant to present a dead animal but to represent an object carrying emotion and poetry. The patterns of a grey mullet, cod, tub gurnard and black sea bream were made and reproduced in lightweight newspaper to remain as nothing but shape. Aart van Bezooyen


Light as Material Blaine Brownell

I repeat my vow in unchanging colors of the ageless bamboo— Which still creates ten thousand generations of shadows — Gyokuran (eleventh-century Japanese poet) When Abhinand Lath was studying architecture at the University of Michigan, he became fascinated with the ability of certain materials to propagate light and the way in which they do so. He was particularly intrigued with the process of Total Internal Reflection (TIR), the 16

phenomenon that enables optical fibers to transmit light over long distances. The experimental prototypes he developed for his master’s thesis utilized various configurations of Poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA light pipes, either alone or embedded within concrete. Crafted with the sophistication of one skilled in both material knowledge and design thinking, Lath’s light pipe matrixes conjured unexpected effects – capturing and directing illumination into shadow, without the need for electricity or any additional light sources. Material Discoveries

Jali Cascata Zari, by SensiTile Systems. An acrylicbased composite that harnesses and extends the intensity of ambient illumination with the color dispersion of a dichroic film layer.

PET Wall, by Transstudio. A self-supporting, luminous curtain composed of repurposed, thermoformed PET bottles and integrated LED nets.

Based on the success of his experiments, Lath founded SensiTile Systems in 2005, and the company has since grown to become a well-known manufacturer of light-propagating architectural finishes. At the time of his company’s launch, Lath selected the poem above to express the mysterious luminous effects he was attempting to harness within physical substance. In an era of active material investigation, light has become an increasingly important ingredient in the pursuit of optimal and unforeseen material effects. As Lath’s example

demonstrates, the adoption of fiber optic principles, of bending and extending light has become a significant trend. This is seen in a

Blaine Brownell

“Bending and extending light has become a trend” variety of materials such as light pipes, acrylic tubes and mirror ducts. These optical principles have been harnessed to produce respon17

Above Light Screen, by Ben Garrison, The Phan, and Sopheak Pho. An adaptable, daylight-regulating system made of lightweight composite panels on flexible tracks. Left Liquid Bricks, by Tom Christian, Ryan Diedrich, and Jennifer Garman. Transparent, modular building blocks with encapsulated light-emitting fluid.


Material Discoveries

sive material effects at the scale of a detail, as well as smart day-lighting and energy optimization strategies at the scale of a building. The compelling intersection of provocative optical phenomena and energy saving strategies has encouraged many designers, engineers, and product manufacturers to develop new materials and assemblies that capture, focus, and transmit light. In an intensive mini-studio I teach at the University of Minnesota College of Design, students learn the principles of light behavior and material integration, in addition to methods for developing physical structures that

“Light has become a critical focus of material development� use light as a primary ingredient. Participants in the catalyst studio, as it is called, design and construct multivalent light-channeling systems and surfaces in order to test light principles and prospects at the middle scale: between that of a detail and a building. Every year, I invite guest instructors with lighting and material expertise to co-teach the class. Past guests have included material scientists John Huizinga and Margaret VogelMartin (3M), lighting designer Brian Stacy (Arup), architects Sheila Kennedy and Frano Violich (KVA MATx), as well as Abhinand Lath himself. Within this multidisciplinary pedagogical framework, students have created a variety of material experiments that blur the conventional boundaries between the fields of architecture, lighting, interior design, engineering, and materials science. These novel explorations of light and material demonstrate the expanded potential of building surfaces and systems, and suggest that we no longer consider the discipline of lighting design as a discrete domain. Rather, as inspired by Lath’s example, light has become a critical focus of material development. At the intersection between matter and energy, or substance and transience, light too may be thought of as a material. Blaine Brownell

Structural Tapestry, by Alison Markowitz-Chan and Mark LaVenture. A self-reinforced space divider composed of wood cells clad with multilayer optical film (MOF).


Crystal Rock

“We don’t need more designers. We need reformers!” Daan Roosegaarde

The behaviour of materials The future is similar to evolution, and materials are starting to show more and more of that behaviour. We are part of an exciting development: materials are starting to have more of a mind of their own, and technology is intricately fused into this idea. This is done by linking biology and technology with electronic technology such as smart materials. I follow bio-mimicry closely. An example is the CRYSTAL project, in which small stones light up through a wireless connection to the ground. Each stone is a salt crystal with a perfect geometric shape, which we dipped in resin so that it becomes 22

water-resistant. The only thing needed is a small wire and a LED. There are thousands of them: the things have grown, so that we can now ‘write’ with them though that was not the original design. This is not just copying but applying a principle which you have taken over. I see myself as a hacker. I infiltrate in a system and then I give it a twist to make the whole better. I infiltrated the world of Heijmans (a top Dutch engineering & construction firm), as well as the fashion world, the creative top. First in order to analyze and understand, and then to produce an interference, an intervention. It is very hyMaterial Discoveries

brid. I am driven by ideology: if I was interested only in commercial applications our studio would have made very different products. It starts with an emotion, like a kind of taste in your mouth – you don’t yet have the right ingredients – and then, whether you’re in the fashion or the automotive industry: you try to change it. One of my great examples is Richard Buckminster Fuller. High-tech materials were an unexplored area when Buckminster Fuller, working with NASA, made use of them. But he managed to combine them with a social factor, and I feel an affiliation: modern technology that uses and generates a social factor. With the project for Heijmans’ intelligent highways the task was clear: not the car but the highway itself should be changed. Designers are virtually absent in highway development. What actually happens? Many other research institutes are engaged. It is a project for the next three years: a haven for designers. There is research – but this is often hidden in a scientist’s drawer. We use that information, and then we make artist’s impressions: showing paint reacting to temperature changes by changing colour, we focus on images of snowflakes to form frost. Look at the way highways currently look. Isn’t it strange that there are “slippery road” signs even in the summer? In this project the road itself becomes an interface, so it signposts itself: “I’m hot”, “I’m new”, “I’m smooth”, “I’m dangerous”, replacing all those signs. Making the road more interactive doesn’t only benefit the user; another result is improved durability. Do we need all that hardware to communicate? So the first question of course was how much would it cost? We didn’t know as we aren’t road builders. But now I know what a variable message sign costs, and we really can invent something smarter to compensate for all those signs together. We are now developing about twenty ideas together with DSM and Akzo Nobel. Daan Roosegaarde

Soft and hard capital So what is the added value? I call this ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ capital. Hard capital is what you pay, while an example of soft capital is the amount of attention that has been given by Heymans in making the highway more sustainable and longer-lasting. They truly embrace the ideal: it is also a way to show their skill but it has to be linked to a new vision. This is not a simple process, but if the company itself

“I see myself as a hacker. I infiltrate … and twist” indicates that it wants to get smarter both internally and externally, we went with a little luck – and a lot of perseverance – and were still able to innovate by design. I would also like and need another word for design, as the present meaning is too decorative. We do not need more designers. We need reformers! Everything is already there. All we have to do is rearrange. I’m a hippie with a business plan and I want to give a twist to the world as I know it. I look at it, I feel a kind of potential, and I reassemble. Take the colour-changing

The Crystal project


The smart highway project by Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans


Material Discoveries

paint. It’s old and in no way high-tech. However, it has never been applied to roads. The material is the medium and the message, and our role as reformers is to create momentum and especially the desire to step out of our comfort zone. So this project is not done with an established designer furniture, but with a very sober and staid road builder. Actually the conclusion is that we have to hack. Still, that can only be done if the intent is present within the company, or at least a clear desire for change. Heijmans has handled this well.

“I would love to walk through supermarkets with a chip that knows what I have bought and how I feel” Network In China I learned to think like a network: I am a network, I’m a meatball in a large soup bowl, certainly a spicy meatball but still part of a larger whole: I am a maker of relationships. For example is interactive reality. The stuff is practically jumping off our television screens: all that work is a kind of prologue to a system that will be proactive, that can be linked to the problem of big corporations. Many large companies have the ‘help attitude’, saying “I don’t understand the world anymore - I grew up with fax machines and now everything is happening so fast, how can I adjust?” Studio Roosegaarde has created light artworks that we are pleased with and that are becoming classics but the mental MAP project I have been working on for eight or nine months is new. My role in that process at Heijmans allows everything to come together: art, poetry, dreams, wonder... I have always linked our work to the urban landscape, and have always wanted to make a landscape. There are still many challenges. In eight years’ time, for example, I would love to walk through supermarkets with a chip that knows Daan Roosegaarde

Roosegaarde (L) and Heijmans

what I have bought and how I feel and that will speak to me: “hello, you are allergic to this product”, or “you need some vitamin B”. Linking materialization with use and ultimately behaviour – it’s all about behaviour. A carton of milk can know whether it is good or bad for you at that moment. I am very interested in food. It’s super-artificial now. The task is to become more human, not just to follow commercial interests. Design and technology can give us a proper autonomy, allowing us to choose our own food. Imagine what that would mean for healthcare, overcrowded hospitals, spiralling costs and high premiums. Everyone currently has a “yes, but” attitude and nobody knows how it should be: and that is the role of the designer. To generate new ideas and proposals. Sustainability I see two paths for sustainability: 1. Making things that are self-sufficient. If I can replace all those lampposts with luminous paint, I can save a tremendous amount of material and energy. 2. Making things yourself. The world reacts to you. Life is not the sum of static elements; you can configure it, you can interact with it, create an interactive generation. That is sustainability, at an almost energetic level. I have not designed it but I have reformed it. And my best work so far is the reformed homepage of Heijmans. 25

Concretes Concretes

Tactility Ornament isn’t a crime if you see the combined the hard properties of concrete with the softness of textiles created by the Tactility Factory. Architect, Ruth Morrow and textile designer, Trish Belford designed innovative processes by using patented technology, to deliver beautiful and sensually engaging surfaces. Each surface finish has a unique, hand-crafted, antique feel, despite being created using leading-edge technologies. The products can be tailored to enhance the potential of any built environment, without overpowering the concept or design of the space itself. There is a selection of pattern and textile finishes that can be combined to provide visually appealing and tactile surfaces. There are standard panel sizes but it is also able to produce larger sizes and custom-made forms. These panels can be used in a variety of ways: to cover entire walls or as friezes or surrounds.


Tactility Factory www.tactilityfactory.com


Material Discoveries

Concretes Concretes

Litracon pXL Litracon pXL are plastic light transmitters, integrated into concrete panels. Combined with the industrialised manufacturing process allows for affordable, see-through concrete. The panels are reinforced and can be stacked storey-high. The light shines through as dots at regular distribution on the surface of the panel. It is equally possible to create patterns, coloured logos and 3D objects with the pixels. Among many others, this option allows for design application in various settings, such as public statues and illuminated walls, faรงades or street furniture. The panels have dimensions of 40 mm thickness by (max) 1200x600 mm and are suitable for use both indoors and outdoors. They are produced in grey, white or black and transmit 3,5 % of incoming light.


LiTraCon www.litracon.hu

Selected by Materia


WOO Wood

Wonderwall Studios The separate tiles of Wonderwall are constructed out of strips of mostly reclaimed wood. The strips are placed with the raw, uneven sides to the front, to create an organic, textured and varied view. These panels are shaped in a way that, after mounting, no connection lines will be visible. The wooden panels contribute to good acoustics. The tiles can be used for multiple purposes, such as wall panelling, furniture design and ceilings. All wooden tiles are treated for bugs and constructed using exterior glue. There are several collections, such as the recycled Parker and Wheels series. These completely hardwood products are at least 80% teak. Other woods used include mahogany, bengkirai, meranti and balua. Panels come in sizes of about 15 cm by 60 cm.


Wonderwall Studios www.wonderwallstudios.com


Material Discoveries

Royal Grass EcoSense


Plastics Plastics

The Royal Grass EcoSense is a 100% recyclable artificial grass product, designed to aesthetically match actual turf both visually and tangibly. The fibres in the material are made from a fine and flexible but also strong and durable monofilament fibre. A v-shaped backbone helps maintain an upright stance. No sand infill is required for installation, but instead the carpet incorporates a shorter pale brown and green frizzy fibre to ensure comfort and stability. With new production techniques, the grass carpet is made only of polyolefin materials (PP and PE)without foreign additions, allowing the grass to be recycled into the same product at the end of its service life, as well as avoiding ground pollution during exterior use. Landscape Solutions www.royalgrass-kunstgras.nl

Selected by Materia


Material Discoveries What are the newest, the hottest, the lightest, the smartest materials today? Material Discoveries presents a wide range of the most exciting materials around. Materia is the world’s leading materials innovation network. We connect people with an interest in materials from many different fields. Our members are professionals in the architecture and design industries. This book is the first in a new series of Material Discoveries. We have selected over one hundred of the most innovative and exciting materials, both natural and synthetic. Material Discoveries also contains essays by various experts in the field of materials design. Join the discovery: www.materia.nl

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Material Discoveries 1 Preview  

Material Discoveries presents a wide range of the most exciting materials around. We have selected over one hundred of the most innovative a...

Material Discoveries 1 Preview  

Material Discoveries presents a wide range of the most exciting materials around. We have selected over one hundred of the most innovative a...