More examples of German material design

Every year, students from the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin design products from a whole range of materials. Below you will find several projects, ranging from ectoplasm to basalt sunscreens, showing the students’ creativity with materials.

This project by Alexander Gärtner and Carine Kuntz took inspiration from the book Phenomena of Materialisation by Albert von Schrenck-Notzing, who, in the early 1900s, held meetings with mediumistically gifted people and documented the alleged outpouring of ectoplasm. According to Schrenck-Notzing, ectoplastic matter undergoes a stage in which it resembles fine veils of chiffon or muslin, and has a fluid transition between being gas, fluid and solid.

Using this classification, the EKMA project manipulates textile and non-textile surfaces to have strange and sometimes unfamiliar effects. The combination of contrasting haptic and visual properties creates new surface phenomena – hard structures combined with soft structures, milky-translucent surfaces overlap sharply defined contours. Transparent fabrics overlap, creating vibrating moiré effects and flowing fabric surfaces. The interplay of elastic and inelastic materials creates relief-like structures and volumes.

Body Loom System
Fast fashion didn’t earn that name for nothing: clothing as to be produced quickly and cheaply. The project Body Loom System by Marina Wilhelm offers an alternative to the model of the fast fashion industry. The apparatus, comparable to a loom, enables seamless weaving of a three-dimensional form in one piece. When the piece is finished, there is no need for cutting and sewing, creating a zero-waste garment. Due to its construction, the loom slows down the weaving process as the weft thread has to be manually woven over and under every warp thread.

Moment by Philippa Lorenzen tries to create a new appreciation for sand. Fixed on fabric, sand becomes flexible. Lorenzen also combined sand and silicon to create a yarn, which was woven and knitted into sand textiles.

The Future of Stones
In the city of Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, on 5 November 2015, a dam retaining a concentrated sludge of toxic mining waste burst, causing the world‘s second worst environmental catastrophe of its kind. The event has affected the region and beyond in unpredictable and irreversible ways, leading to dramatic changes. The project The Future of Stones by Silvia Noronha engages in a speculative geology around the material outcomes of these events.

Noronha collected samples from different affected locations. These materials have merged with nature, but are fundamentally different than natural materials. The samples have been empirically experimented with, artificially accelerating geological time by applying high pressure and temperature, with the aim of developing a “stone of the future” – an aggregation of current materials found in the Earth’s soil, merged into a prognosis.

Thomas Bruderer reinterpreted the design of the Cho’jac net bag of the Mexican Mayan people in this project, in order to create a collection of sophisticated, sustainable bags. Although one may find the Cho’jac amongst artefacts in an ethnological museum, they are nevertheless still used today in areas of Maya-Tzotzil culture. Thanks to the agave plant fibres used in the net, which are turned into a delicate yet surprisingly stretchy mesh over the course of several weeks of work, the net is highly resilient. The knowledge and technique needed to produce the Cho’jac is passed on to future generations by word of mouth, but imports of cheaper replacement bags and the resulting declining demand for the Cho’jac present a serious threat to the continuation of this artisanal craft.

Crystal Sense
The project Crystal Sense by Dafna Stoilkova translates the aesthetics of the invisible yet tangible crystalline structure of the crystal quartz into a tactile and visually perceptible surface. The result is a flexible, delicate lacework surface, which can transform its shape from 2D to 3D. This surface can adopt the shape of the human body and adapt to its movements.

The SteinWeich project consists of the works of various students, all using the fibres and filaments of the volcanic rock basalt. Basalt fibres have a higher tensile and compression strength than glass fibres and are fully recyclable, but are still relatively unknown to a wider public. The students developed various experimental textile basalt structures.

Stone Web by Idalene Rapp and Natacha Unger is a system in which individual modules are combined to create spatial structures. Read more about this project here.

For Shifting Stone by Malu Lücking, Jack Randol, and Rebecca Schedler, industrial basalt fabrics were manipulated in order to achieve a particular open structured pattern, mobility and transparency. Layers of fabric are combined into three-dimensional textile structures that can open and close the surface by shifting the layers vertically. In an architectural context the textile can be used for shading large glass facades and adapted to meet changing requirements for visibility and sun protection.

For Deformierung, Lena Ganswindt and Liina Leo
 developed vibrant textile structures by manipulation of technical fabrics. Curtains or room dividers of various transparencies and three-dimensional plasticity are created through pulling individual threads, which keep its shape solely due to the material friction. The textile object reacts to light conditions due to the material and the open or closed surface composition.

Vaulted Stone by Abigail Wheeler, Boram Park, and Rute Chaves explores the structural potential of basalt fibers for lightweight construction. Using the traditional method of textile manufacturing models for free-standing structures knitted with resin reinforced basalt filaments were created. The loops form an organic structure while simultaneously exhibiting a delicate but stable form. The variation in loop size and number creates a gradient which when knit at larger proportions, one could use as openings to the space or as a shaded canopy.

The cycle of aggregate states between solid and liquid, the interplay of melting and solidification are the inspirational starting point of Glass Poetry by Minyoung Han and Benjamin Gladki. The experiments took advantage of the heat resistance of basalt and glass. The composites were softened at 800 °C in the fusing oven, where the fibres became form defining or surface structuring elements.

For more German material design, click here.