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Surface Spotlight: Material School

13/09/2017 08:10:25

It’s back to school season and with that in mind this edition of Surface Spotlight uncovers the research of designers and brands that are mixing materials and processes with innovative results. From ethical solutions to creative thinking each project highlights a key ingredient and how it can be transformed into a novel material. Sally Angharad reports.

Mushrooms: MOGU identifies alternatives to traditional synthetic matters using fungal mycelia


The MOGU project aims to replace petroleum-based plastics with mushroom-based materials, believing that naturally grown materials can provide a sustainable alternative to traditional, synthetic materials derived from the exploitation of fossil fuels and finite resources. MOGU is developing and promoting its technology, by implementing the root structures of mushrooms, the mycelium, to transform and to bind agricultural by-products into strong functional composites that are 100% compostable. With a current focus on the development of products for the construction sector, for (interior) bio-architecture and for product design, the first batch of marketed products, soon be introduced in the European market, mainly consist of modular panels (decorative tiles), elements for thermal insulation and acoustic absorbency. 

Porcelain: "Nothing should be lost, and waste can be beautiful" says De Intuïtiefabriek


De Intuïtiefabriek | deintuitiefabriek.nl | photos: Ruud Peijnenburg

Design studio De Intuïtiefabriek’s vision is based on craftsmanship and since 2012 it has been saving the bits of porcelain clay that become left overs during the production of its porcelain collections, creating new possibilities for the waste. After collecting approximately two hundred kg of waste porcelain in the past five years the studio is rediscovering the material in its Flock collection. They want the “remains to remain, transformed into something new,” explains De Intuïtiefabriek. Making clay in small amounts gives them the possibility to colour both the clay and the glaze, which very rarely happens in the industry. By making sure that the waste particles stay visible during the process they create random and cheerful patterns. 

Concrete: BentuDesign's Shadow tile incorporates disused ceramic as aggregate


Bentu Design | bentudesign.com

Bentu Design, a furniture brand from China, have been awarded the Red Dot Award 2017, Best of the Best, for the concrete wall decoration tiles Shadow, made of recycled concrete that consists of fifty per cent disused ceramic as aggregate in cement. Bentu discovered that, unlike porcelain, cement’s material properties are unaffected by adding ceramic aggregate and thus they carried out a brand new way of recycling ceramic waste. Exploring effects of light and shade, the tile design features grooves of different depths resulting in a three-dimensional effect and eliminates the need for a printed pattern. The design remains simple and true to the brand’s ethos; free from all the unnecessary but remaining concise and elegant.

Copper: the sky bridge Chum Passerelle features LEDs to create starry-night effects 

Chum bridge

Cannon Design and NEUF Architect(e)s | cannondesign.com | neufarchitectes.com

Combining art, architecture and functionality Canada based CannonDesign + NEUF Architect(e)s have picked up the AZ Awards 2017 for Best Lighting Installations with the Passerelle sky bridge, part of the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). Connecting the main hospital with its supporting logistics tower the bridge was designed to act as a floating lantern over Sanguinet street, with the entire bridge structure wrapped in a series of sculpturally formed stainless steel ribs, clad with curved perforated copper panels. Creating this dynamic pattern, ever-changing throughout the day the 194,000 perforations in the 3mm thick curved copper panels create a cloud of luminous rings that reflect the sun’s light during the day, but at night, filter the light emanating from within the structure to create a dramatic floating arch.

Wool: Designer Ingrid Külper at Mattahari creates Jigsaw Puzzle Rugs put together in sections

Jigsaw rugs

Mattaharai | mattahari.com

Designer Ingrid Külper at Mattahari was awarded a double Silver medal by the European Product Design Award 2017 for her Jigsaw Puzzle Rugs, featuring rhombuses or hexagons, made of wool, placed adjacently in order to create various decorative rug designs. "They are genuinely dual purpose; they may be used for covering floors and they can also be hung on walls for sound reduction purposes," Külper comments. Both designs in the series feature a blending of process; the blue design is created by printing on pure wool while the pink design is hand tufted in New Zealand wool with embroidered lines in banana fibre. The rugs have an anti slip surface and are designed to be fitted in large stately rooms for impact, such as palaces, grand hotels and spacious hotel lobby areas but can also be fitted in residential houses.


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