CONCRETE / WOOD Interior Inspiration
Flat is boring (though it is convenient to transport when it comes to flat packed furniture). But a Milan-based company is bringing three-dimensional triangular goodness to walls and ceilings with Wood-Skin, a composite materials that merges the rigidity, strength and beauty of wood, with the suppleness of textiles designed to add an aesthetic punch to architectural surfaces, furniture and other sculptural elements.
Made out of digitally fabricated triangular tiles of Finnish birch sandwiching a nylon and polymer mesh in between, Wood-Skin is a pliable material that can be applied without the need for complex supporting structures underneath (no word on what type of adhesive is used; we hope it's eco-friendly). Its simple triangles allows for complex forms to takes shape with minimum fuss. It looks modern, yet organic in its ability to bend, flex and deform into various shapes, all facilitated by the simple triangulation of its surface.
According to Wired, designers Giulio Masotti and Gianluca Lo Presti first came up with the material as part of an open-source design competition back in 2012. They test drove the concept in Montreal, Canada, using it design part of the lobby of a local rock climbing gym. Says Masotti:
At that time we were looking for a solution that would fulfill our need to create complex shapes, every time different, based on a standard, but also ready to evolve in a smart, fluid, connecting system. What we created was a skin that would allow us to focus on the structure and would adapt to it, leaving the builder the total control with the flexibility to change the forms at any moment during the whole process.
Wood-Skin can be made as modules, sheets or rolls, which can be put together to form one seamless surface. Its manufacturing process allows for a wide range of customization: you can change the angle of excavation to adjust the angle of deformation, you can change the thickness of the wood, you can even get a sheet of the stuff with irregular triangles.
In a recent collaboration with MIT's Self-Assembly Lab, they are even starting to make self-transforming flat pack furniture with it. It comes flat, and with a simple tug, it magically pops up, ready to use, no fasteners or tools needed. Like their tiles, it's designed to be flexible and reusable, says COO Susanna Todeschini:
The good thing about Wood-Skin is that you can disassemble and re-use it as many times as you want without throwing it in the trash. You can fold our furniture up and store it under the bed when you’re not using it
So what might materials like this mean for the future of design? Well, at the least you can expect walls or even outdoor facades with a more striking aesthetic, and perhaps even furniture and surfaces that are programmed to morph and self-assemble on their own. Neat stuff.
The physics are straightforward: when a material changes phase, like ice changing to water, a great deal of heat is absorbed. When it goes from water to ice, heat is released. That's why ice doesn't instantly melt in your drink and why it does such a good job of keeping it cool; it takes time.
Phase Change Materials like paraffin are being used more often in buildings to act as thermal flywheels, storing heat in the day and releasing it at night, or vice versa. You can buy drywall impregnated with it. Architect and engineer Raphaël Ménard and designer Jean-Sébastien Lagrange are making it beautiful with their Zero Energy Furniture, of which the Climactic Table is the first project, now being shown in Milan. "The project represents a result from a dialogue between design and engineering, structural design and energy savings, thermal well-being and rational aesthetic."
The designers are trying to solve "energy efficiency and climate control issues at the furniture scale rather than at the building scale," by absorbing and releasing heat to regulate temperature.
Can you heat your room for just 10 cents a day? Egloo can. Egloo is a clever little heater that harnesses candle power to heat a room without wasting electricity. Egloo works by concentrating the heat from the flame of a few candles inside a terracotta dome, radiating warmth into a room even after the candles are blown out.
Named Haus JJ, the two-storey apartment in Kreuzberg features two different routes between floors.
The first and most prominent is a spiral staircase featuring colourful flooring and a rope balustrade, while the second is the fireman's pole, tucked away in a corner.
"We wanted to create a fast and playful way to move from the fifth to fourth floor," explained the architect.
"It came up in the early discussions with the owners, but the initial idea was to create a slide," he told. "Unfortunately the floor plan did not allow enough space so we had to compact the idea – the result was a fireman's pole."Rather than making it a central feature, the entrance to the pole is hidden in a room screened by a bookcase. It leads straight down into the client's home office.
"After some time the idea of the secret room came up and we integrated the pole in there, making it possible to escape unseen," explained Petri. "It creates an efficient and easy-to-use circulation loop between the two floors."
The apartment occupies a rooftop extension to an existing residential block, taking up the fourth and fifth floors.
The spiral staircase is positioned at the centre of the space, framed by the walls of the master bedroom.Slender treads fan out around a central column, with wooden surfaces that match the herringbone patterning of the surrounding floors. These are coloured in vibrant shades of red, yellow, blue and green.
The intention was to reference an existing "Brandwände", or fire wall, in the centre of the building and the urban foliage that grows across it.
"In the fall, this green wall creates an amazing amount of natural colour gradients and growth patterns," said Petri. "We wanted to create something inside the apartment to link to this specific and amazing natural phenomena."There is no balustrade, but a rope hangs through the centre of the staircase to provide something to hold on the way down. There is also a skylight overhead."Due to the small floor plan, we also had to create a compact staircase," said Petri. "The rope was a good way to install a handrail without decreasing the space to much. It works really well, for kids and adults!"The home has entrances on both floors. On the lower level, the doorway leads through into a generous hallway, with the master bedroom and bathroom on the left, and the work space and children's room on the right. Upstairs, the majority of the space is taken up by an open-plan living, dining and kitchen space, which is partially screened from the entrance by a row of vertical wooden slats.