Category Archives: material intelligence

Hidden in Plain View


Done by USC’s architecture instructors: Alvin Huang of Synthesis

When fantasizing about the ultimate home office, the owner of this project imagined something sleek and sculptural that would conceal all the cords and contraptions that clutter most desks. To bring this vision to life, architect Alvin Huang and his team at Synthesis Design and Architecture hung sheets of CNC-milled birch—fabricated by local firm Cutting Edge—from the wall to form a continuous three-dimensional form. Look closely and you’ll glimpse the five hidden cabinets concealed within its sinewy surface that obscure files, books, a phone, and a paper shredder. In keeping with the theme of optical illusion, Synthesis inset a series of horizontal wooden spacers to form, from a distance, an abstraction of a world map—a way to hold the boards in place and nod to the resident’s love of world travel.






The Resonant Chamber: a ceiling that dynamically adapts to the sound of performances in concert halls.

Resonant Chamber is an interior envelope system that deploys the principles of rigid origami to transform the acoustic environment through dynamic spatial, material and electro-acoustic technologies. Our aim is to develop a soundsphere able to adjust its properties in response to changing sonic conditions, altering the sound of a space during performance and creating an instrument at the scale of architecture, flexible enough that it might be capable of being played. The project is developed through three streams of iterative research and development in both computational testing and full-scale prototype installation: Dynamic Surface Geometries; Performative Material Systems; and Variable Actuation and Response. Resonant Chamber is funded through the 2011 Research through Making Grant, U-M Office of the Vice President for Research, 2011 Small Projects Grant, U-M Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Research Creation Grant.
SO innovative! SO interesting





tape art

When i was in architecture school my friends and I did an exhibition for the Asian Architecture and Urbanism study abroad program and for our exhibition we decided to use black artist tape to draw people into our exhibition, depicting the skylines for each of the cities we visited like Seoul, Shanghai, Tokyo, etc. Here I stumbled upon some pretty amazing tape art. Check it out- true material intelligence

See you soon


Buff Diss

Jim Lambie

packaging tape public art installation

tape art structure public art

tape structure

packaging tape

seattle art festival

masking tape dress

Tape melbourne

Biomorphic Abstractions

Designed by San Francisco-based artist Mary Burton Durell, this body of work uses only tracing paper and wheat paste as material.  At first glance these pieces appear to be built onto a rigid wire frame, however, the process is much more organic and the structure is created from hand building.  Individual cells or cones that comprise most of the pieces are first formed over molds of various shapes and sizes and then joined together using wheat paste cell by cell.  Additional layers of paper and paste are then added for strength and reinforcement which creates the net-like structure around the individual cells.

The translucent quality of the tracing paper allows light to play a significant and dynamic role in the work.  In combination with the physical structure of the work, this translucent quality creates an interior, as well as exterior, perspective. In certain light, however, the translucency of the paper appears to have the visual characteristics of more solid materials, such as oyster shell or marble.

Due partially to the inherent physical aspects of these materials, this body of work has evolved, both in process and form, along decidedly organic lines.  These shapes have often been described as biomorphic abstractions or shapes resembling cellular membranes, ethereal bodies and the skeletal structures of underwater organisms.




Si Chan: Hug Me

I stumbled across this awesome collection! yes, at first it may seem kind of strange to incorporate hands into a collection, but thinking about hands and hugging reflects qualities of warmth, touch, sensuality, comfort, generosity, closeness, etc. This designer did just that- influenced by this photo of her and her brother- a moment in time- a moment where she was happy and loved-is well reflected in her face as well in her mens collection. Hands may be a literal aspect in this collection, but it symbolizes the human to human interaction. A connection as well as a disconnection if you will. Moreover, the collection to me seems extremely jovial, bright, plushy, and childish in colors- a gesture of a welcoming hug. check it out.

see you soon,





The invisible membrane- sonja baumel

extremely interesting project. Check it out.

life on the human body and its design applications

Thesis project

My thesis project deals with a re-evaluation of our second skin, clothing, which instead of focusing on valuated historic forms zooms on the microcosm which excists already on our skin.

The (In)visible membrane confronts scientific data and methods with fashion design in order to find a balance between individual identity and the surrounding local environment. By doing so, I want to create a new second living layer on our body based on the interaction between individuals and the surrounding.

How will a piece of clothing, which is defined by personal physical needs or, for example, our body temperature look like? What if we were able to use our skin bacteria for producing our clothes?


All these assumptions led to the crocheted membrane design in 2008. Crocheted membrane displays a fundamental change in the aesthetics of clothes. Usually, the conventional production of clothes is connected to some aspects of fashion design history, for instance, regarding an item’s shape: a shirt is defined as a shirt; trousers are defined as trousers etc. Opposed to this, the crocheted membrane process had a different starting point: an individual human body and its needs with an outdoor temperature of 10 degrees Celsius. Completely new functions, aesthetics and shapes emerged. This caused further questions: What if our second skin would be able to locally adapt to changing conditions in a flexible and autonomous way? Would the aesthetic diversity of our clothes with individual colors, shapes and structures, be more inspiring and would we be more aware of our surroundings? Is it possible that more significant clothes would develop which would accurately adapt to local conditions? Is it possible that even social integration would become more dynamic due to the adaptation of the outer layer to its surroundings?

In 2008, all these questions brought me to Wageningen University in the Netherlands. In order to learn more about the lives of bacteria, I had the opportunity to complete a microbiological internship. After having been introduced to the basics of microbiology, I started to experiment with skin bacteria and, at a later point, their reaction to textiles.

During this time I have learned how inspiring interdisciplinary cooperation between art and science can be for all the parties involved. New aesthetic and verbal vocabularies emerged. I noticed that scientists usually focus on their own special microcosm and that designers prefer interdisciplinary projects so that designers are usually in a position to recognize causal relations more easily.

This led to the next design steps. I called the next project bacteria mapping. I started to chart bacteria on my body. I developed a number system ranging from 1 to 20 and denoted different parts on my body in order to find out and document how and in what way bacteria varied on the different parts of my body.


see you soon.



Winde Rienstra Hand Crafted Fashion + Architecture

amazing! check these out. Inspirational

Winde Rienstra, where fashion meets art. The public was blown away by Winde’s handcrafted designs and this collection was definitely my favourite as well. I can’t wait to see more from this designer!

see you soon,


Smart Textiles

Materials that transcend the way we think today, embodying technology, movement, and environment. Check out these smart textiles.

The fabric of the future won’t be just plain chiffon, silk or cotton. Instead electroluminescent material, microprocessors and LEDs may be woven together with clothing fibers to create smart textiles.

“Clothing can be considered a second skin and by implementing technology in it, you are bringing it into your intimate space,” says Nicky Assmann, an e-textile designer whose work was part of a recent exhibition in the Netherlands. “You are not just carrying technology like a laptop or an iPhone, but wearing it constantly.”

The exhibition, Pretty Smart Textiles, which closed last week, gave a glimpse into what happens when technology meets fashion. Among the exhibits were a dress made entirely of circuit boards that could also be used to generate music, a garment that when worn takes the sound of a heartbeat and other sounds from the body and remixes it into music, and a trenchcoat that reads fabric punch cards and tells stories.

Electronic textiles are outgrowing their geeky reputation, says Melissa Coleman, who with Dorith Sjardijn curated the exhibtion.

“The open source hardware movement has allowed for quicker and easier development of electronics and made it accessible to artists and designers,” says Coleman. “The result is that smart textile applications have become more interesting conceptually and aesthetically.”

The exhibition, which ended last week, featured 16 works and seven interactive samples.

Most of the artists who showed their work were women. “Electronic textiles appeal more to women than men,” says Sjardijn. “Women who are already in technology find it a nice way to combine the stuff that they find appealing with the more clinical world of technology and programming.”

The Clear LED dress fits the bill for a lighter, more feminine outfit. The dress, created by Evelyn Lebis, has three pieces: the bodice and tutu — both made of tulle — and a long, sleeveless, open blazer.

The bodice includes some embroidery with glow-in-the-dark yarns that light up when bright artificial light is shined on them.

The blazer is woven with stretch fibers and yarn made of PMMA (Poly methyl methacrylate, a clear plastic that’s often used as a replacement for glass). The PMMA yarn transmits LED light. LEDs are attached at about a 90 degree angle to the yarn so with the help of a battery, the entire dress can glow in the dark.

Lebis says she’s working on making two more dresses.

The Body Speaker

If you want to make music, maybe you could look inside your body for inspiration, says Karina van Heck, who has created a ‘Body Speaker.’ The wearable textile allows the user to listen to sounds from their own heartbeat or blood rushing through their veins and remix it to produce music.

The Body Speaker, which is worn in direct contact with the body, places sound-capturing membranes on the skin and directs the sound signals to a control system.

van Heck says she was inspired by the fact that technology such as X-rays and CT scans make it easy to look inside the human body.

“By hearing the sounds from our own body we become aware of our own existence and the condition and necessities of our body,” she says. “In times of stress we tend not to listen to our bodies quite enough and take it for granted.”


A transparent dress may seem like a teenage fantasy, but a group of creative designers have tried to make it real. An exhibit called Intimacy uses smart foils that become transparent to create a dress.

The distance towards the garments determines their level of transparency. The foils transform the body of the wearer into a interface that acts as an “emotional meter.” The concept has been developed by Studio Roosegaarde and V2_Lab.

“Intimacy appealed to every visitor,” says Melissa Coleman, who was also one of the curators of the exhibition. “It uses an e-foil that becomes transparent with electricity. This material is uncommon that people have asked if it is really real!”

A Magical Carpet

For a modern take on a traditional rug, Dorith Sjardijn embedded electroluminescent material into a hand-tufted wool carpet. The resulting piece called 8 Bitskleed feels familiar, despite its eerie glow.

“I wanted to take a traditional craft like carpet weaving into the future,” says Sjardijn, who’s a textile designer. With Melissa Coleman (who created the Charlie trench coat), Sjardijn teaches e-textiles at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague.

Sjardijn tufted fibers of the electroluminescent material into an existing carpet and backed the entire rug with rubber for durability.

“I can see this being used in interior decoration,” she says. “The potential for its use is not that far out into the future.”



material intelligence

As designers, we must comet to see that materials are just as important as the concepts that we generate. Each material embodies a different characteristic and each material by generation is different. Wood in itself carries thousands of characteristics that in most people’s mind is set to be hard and rugged. But check out the woodwork by Korean artist Cha Jong Rye. She defies wood and their preconceived perceptions and transforms them into a material that is fluid like fabric or even water.

Korean sculptor Cha Jong-Rye works with wood as if it were clay or paint. She layers and sands hundreds of delicate wood pieces to create pockmarked canvases, threatening beds of thorns, or wall-sized recreations of crumpled cloth napkins. Jong-Rye completed her graduate work at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul in 1996 and has had numerous group exhibits and five solo shows, her latest at the Sungkok Art Museum. I am completely hypnotized by these sculptures and in total awe of the painstaking craft on display here. If you like this, you might also enjoy the work of Ben Butler.