Home / Lifestyle / Soft-serve sculpture and solar cells you can wear: 5 material innovations that will shape tomorrow

Soft-serve sculpture and solar cells you can wear: 5 material innovations that will shape tomorrow

Written by Seetal Solanki

Seetal Solanki is the founder and director of materials research design studio Ma-t-ter, and author of “‘Why Materials Matter: Responsible Design for a Better World,” published by Prestel.

For us to live sustainably on this planet, we need to change how we build. We need a better understanding of the potential (both for good and bad) of the materials we choose, and must figure out how to implement them responsibly, or else risk negative environmental, social, economic, environmental and even political consequences.

Thankfully, designers around the world are taking note. Whether by applying a whole-systems approach, where nothing is wasted throughout manufacturing process, or finding innovative new applications for abundant natural resources, innovative thinkers are exploring concepts today that might shape how we build tomorrow. Here are five at the forefront.

Wearable solar crystals

The more light the solar crystals take in during the day, the greater the possible intensity of the indoor light installation.

The more light the solar crystals take in during the day, the greater the possible intensity of the indoor light installation. Credit: Mark Cocksedge

Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel teamed up with Swarovski on an innovative new way for us to power our homes. The Cyanometer, a striking blue pendant, integrates a crystal solar cell that collects energy whenever the wearer walks around outdoors. Then, when placed into a docking station in the home, it emits lights that reflect how the sky changes color throughout the day.

This material has the potential to change our behavior for the better, encouraging us to think more deeply about the energy we consume as well as our physical activity levels.

Building with volcanoes

A series of terracotta bricks was first created, then glazed with the volcanic ash, transforming an unstable material into a stable one and creating an architectural material from the ash.

A series of terracotta bricks was first created, then glazed with the volcanic ash, transforming an unstable material into a stable one and creating an architectural material from the ash. Credit: Dzek and Formafantasma

It may seem hard to believe, but the world is running out sand due to the amount of construction taking place around the world to house rising populations. This could be bad news for glass-makers, who rely on sand-based glazes to give their products a polished finish.
Luckily, Amsterdam-based studio Formafantasma and London design brand Dzek have come up with an ingenious alternative: a silvery glaze made from volcanic ash that, when applied to a surface, looks something like molten lava. The team hopes this can transform the feared byproduct of a natural disaster into something useful.

Soft-serve ceramics

Alvarez's white porcelain sculptural forms can be likened to soft-serve ice cream.

Alvarez’s white porcelain sculptural forms can be likened to soft-serve ice cream. Credit: Gustav Almestål

Ceramics are traditionally associated with images of traditional artisans crafting works by hand. Swedish-Chilean designer Anton Alvarez completely subverted this notion with the introduction of “Extruder,” a machine that squeezes out structurally sound forms like ice cream from a soft-serve machine.

It may seem like he’s callously removed the human element from the process of making ceramics, but he’s in fact achieving something much different. With his new machine, he’s embraced self-production, empowering himself to be both designer and manufacturer. This trend has given designers greater creative control of their products, while also allowing them to monitor their processes from beginning to end.

Modern marble

The flooring of Raw Material's workshop in Rajasthan is polished, while the marble-brick walls are left raw and textured, highlighting the many attributes this material possesses.

The flooring of Raw Material’s workshop in Rajasthan is polished, while the marble-brick walls are left raw and textured, highlighting the many attributes this material possesses. Credit: Raw Material

Raw Material, a design studio based in Rajasthan, in the northwestern plains of India, creates furniture from marble offcuts. Using architectural joinery techniques, designers connect individual pieces to create functional pieces that can be both transported and assembled with ease.

What’s more, the team transforms the dust created during marble processing (which is normally very polluting) into a plaster, which they have used as mortar told hold together a marble brick farmhouse they created. By using both disused marble and the waste it processing creates, Raw Material has successfully created a zero-waste production system.

Pining for more

Pine needles

Pine needles

Pine trees are abundant in Europe, with 600 million pine trees are cut down annually in the European Union alone. This bodes well for Latvian designer Tamara Orjola, who transforms pine needles into a variety of products, including textiles, dye, an essential oil, paper and furniture, all of which can be biodegraded or reused. Her work demonstrates the huge potential of a single unexpected, versatile material that can be applied across a multitude of applications.

News credit : Cnn