Newborn matter is an exploratory journey into the interdisciplinary space between design and material science. A place where visions can be transformed into reality through curiosity, passion and devotion, giving birth to materials of our common future. The world of material science is filled with endless opportunities packaged in layers of restrictions. Patent issues make this a secret place. Few industrial designers know what’s going on behind the walls of material laboratories and what qualities the materials belonging to our common future will have. Instead, most design professionals pick and choose from a plate of ready options placing them into society.
As part of the project I worked on the future development of the mechano-active material, MAM, at the research institute Innventia AB, Stockholm. It has the current property that it moves when exposed to heat and high humidity levels, and contains no harmful substances. By using artistic design methods to explore its properties and using MAM’s current state as a starting point, I identified future development directions for the material, ?making the visions more tangible by manifesting the possible futures through video, photography and physical prototypes.The proposals require that different qualities need to be evolved or added and suggest diverse fields of use. Inspiration came from goosebumps, sweat and blushing, transformations visible on the surface of our bodies as reactions to the surrounding environment. I zoomed in on details such as how the body transports liquid through the skin, expresses cold and heat visually, and functions in symbiosis with weather conditions. One of the proposals present an alternative for traditional textile and another breathing walls for interior solutions.
I believe the responsibilities industrial designers have within material development could be summarised in the following way: We need to take active choices of how we want to shape our future to benefit society and the eco-system, not only when choosing materials in the implementation of our ideas, but also by pro-actively affecting what qualities forthcoming materials will have. Some designers are already involved, but a synergy between those that implement materials into society and those that invent them, I suggest, should be a more collaborative relationship. Explorative design methods are suitable and valuable tools in the crossroads development of new materials, this would benefit everyone.
“Imagine a restaurant where a couple can enjoy a small cosy environment, and when the restaurant is full, the space will change appearance opening up and ventilating the air.
In the future MAM could be developed to enable regulation of light flow, change the physical space in rooms and control ventilation between spaces: with no electricity required. The material could also have sound absorbing qualities added. How would you feel in such a place where we go beyond the wall as we know it today?”
“Imagine that you are getting dressed in the morning, its cold. During the day the sun brings
up the temperature, it’s hot, but you are not sweating. Your clothes are made of a material that open ups and ventilates only where you are warm, avoiding sweat and the need of dressing in several layers. In the future MAM could be evolved into a material with these properties.
The manufacturing process would not include harmful chemicals, and be easy to produce.
Is this the next step?”