Category Archives: News

MADEC participates in IHSI 2019 CONFERENCE AS FOUNDATION MEMBER OF DESign4materials network

Bio-Smart Materials for Product Design Innovation

In the framework of design-driven material innovation approach and cross-disciplinary research practices, the aim of the MADEC’s contribution is to make clear how Bio-Smart Materials are creating new opportunities to realize answers to the complex needs of contemporary society. Emerging Bio-smart Materials create new opportunities to answers the complex needs of contemporary

At IHSI 2019 MADEC together with 2 other components of Design4materials network presents a series of case studies of bio-smart materials applications. These demonstrate a higher propensity for the use of biotechnological innovations.

The case studies are framed in three specific areas:

  • biomedical design
  • sports design
  • design for environment

These areas are particularly interested in the development and application of novel bio-smart materials for both their performances and sustainability.

Anura 3D printed patches of bio-smart polymers, design by G. Califano, Master D.RE.A.M. Academy, 2018. Courtesy Hybrid Lab, SUN.

This contribution is published as following:

Ferrara, M., Langella, C. and Lucibello S. (2019). Bio-smart Materials for Product Design Innovation: Going Through Qualities and Applications. In W. Karwowski, T. Ahram (eds.) Intelligent Human Systems Integration (pp. 634-640). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Intelligent Human Systems Integration (IHSI 2019): Integrating People and Intelligent Systems, February 7-10, 2019, San Diego, California. Cham: Springer

Presentazione del libro “Ideas and the Matter”

Presentazione del libro ”Ideas and the matter” curato da Giulio Ceppi e Marinella Ferrara

H 11.30-13 il giorno 4 Maggio 2018

c/o SUPERSTUDIO PIÙ via Tortona, 27 – Milano

all’interno della mostra ‘SMART CITY: MATERIALS, TECHNOLOGY, PEOPLE’

Saluti e benvenuto

  • Rodrigo Rodriquez (presidente Material Connexion)
  • Luisa Collina (preside della scuola del design del Politecnico di Milano)

Introduzione dei curatori del libro

  • Giulio Ceppi e Marinella Ferrara (MADEC/Politecnico di Milano)


modera Fortunato D’Amico (curatore e critico)

  • Giampiero Bosoni (Politecnico di Milano)
  • Michelangelo Pistoletto (Città dell’Arte)
  • Francesco Samorè (Fondazione Bassetti)
  • Clino Trini Castelli (CDMilano)



ICS Materials lectures and seminars promoted by MADEC

MADEC promotes the following lectures and seminars on ICS Materials that will take place at the Design Department of Politecnico di Milano.

  • Monday 06/11, h.14.15 | Campus Bovisa, B2.3.4

unpacking the relationship between materials and interactive experience
Lecturer: Daniela Petrelli | Professor of Interaction Design at the Art & Design Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

  • Tuesday 07/11, h14.15 | Campus Bovisa, B2.1.8

exploring interactivity, connectivity, and smartness in nature
Lecturer: Barbara Pollini | Sustainable designer and professor in Materials and new technologies for the project innovation at Naba design University, Milan, Italy

  •  Monday 13/11, h11.15 | Campus Bovisa, B2.3.4

design to achieve dynamic experiences
Lecturer: Marta González Colominas | PhD in Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering. Coordinator of the Materials and Sustainability area for the Degree in Engineering of Industrial Design, ELISAVA, Barcelona, Spain.

  • Tuesday 14/11, h14.15 | Campus Bovisa, B2.1.8

SEMINAR including the following the lectures:

designing products that are worn (everyday)
Lecturer: Oscar Tomico | PhD and Head of Studies of the Degree in Engineering in Industrial Design, ELISAVA, Barcelona, Spain.

exploring materials and processes for computational artefacts, through studio craft practices
Lecturer: Vasiliki Tsaknaki | PhD candidate and teacher assistant at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

More lectures and seminars to follow.  Stay tuned!




Ideas and the Matter: What will we be made of and what will the world be made of?

di Chiara Catgiu

Finally, the book born from the compendium of Madec’s one-year research is out.

Contributors come from several and diverse disciplines (medicine, biotechnology, engineering, art, anthropology, architecture and design), which design thoughts are fed by.

What will we be made of and what will the world be made of? Sciences and technologies are extending design fields, modifying materials and everything that surround us, even our body, redefining on a perceptive level the boundary between things and us.

To identify the actual evolution of the relationship between sciences, knowledge and design, Madec (Material Design Culture Research Centre) of Politecnico di Milano, started in 2014 a wide debate with a series of contributions about innovation trajectories with well known scholars of many disciplines, researchers, professionals and companies.

This public debate, entitled “Ideas and the matter” opens new options for design action today, new ideas, and the definition of design approaches, contributing to the development of a new methodology of creativity-driven material innovation that, in a world full of opportunities but also problems to be solved, helps design to play a role of “giving new meanings”, through designing materials and things with a critical approach.

This is a mission designers cannot abdicate, following the successes of “Design Thinking”, which was opening up to social innovation challenges and achieving creative solutions beyond the reach of conventional structure and method. Innovative materials have been estimated to underpin directly or indirectly 70% of all technical innovations and this percentage is estimated to be steadily growing in the period to 2030. However, multi-functional, reliable, well-performing, safe, sustainable, recyclable materials are essential but not always sufficient for the commercial success of products.1

Upstream collaboration between product designers, material scientists and engineers is critically important to link the market pull with the potential of new materials and technologically advanced systems and creative solutions.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Terzo Paradiso.

iCub, the humanoid robot developed at IIT as part of the EU Project RobotCub.

Ecovative Design, Mushroom Packaging, 2015.

Austeja Platukyte, That’s it, biodegradable packaging from algae-based material, 2016.

Amy Karle, Regenerative Reliquary, 2016.

In the last few years, “Design Thinking” has gained popularity and it is now seen as an exciting new paradigm for dealing with problems in sectors as far as IT, Business, Education and Medicine. This potential success challenges the design research community to provide unambiguous answers to two key questions: “What is the core of Design Thinking?” and “What could it bring to practitioners and organizations in other fields?”.2

At the same time, “Open Innovation” is a go-to process stimulating way of creating positive change in production.3

The open innovation paradigm can be interpreted to go beyond just using external sources of innovation such as customers, rival companies, and academic institutions, and can be as much a change in the use, management, and employment of intellectual property as it is in the technical and research driven generation of intellectual property. In this sense, it is understood as the systematic encouragement and exploration of a wide range of internal and external sources for innovative opportunities, the integration of this exploration with firm capabilities and resources, and the exploitation of these opportunities through multiple channels.

The book can be bought at the following link


2 Kees Dorst, Design Studies, Vol 32 No. 6 November 2011, “The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application”

Sustainable materials from conifer needles

di Chiara Catgiu

The pine needles are nowadays of interest for the materials industry.

Pine is one of the most common type of tree, so there is no shortage of pine needles. Tapping into this organic, biologically degradable resource is, moreover, a simple matter, involving cooperation with branches of industry that use the wood from the pines, but not their needles. And the use of pine needles is said to have another significant benefit, when we think how effective the essential oils in pine needles are at keeping insects away.

Environmentally-friendly sound-absorbing materials, which are made of conifer-derived sustainable materials, fulfill all these requirements. The project idea of the Russian Aotta Studio focuses on sustainable material usage without environment harming. The new sound-absorbing fiber material is in fact based on conifer-needle and on a biodegradable binder. It has natural color and texture that creates forest atmosphere in interior. Panels from the new material create a comfortable working atmosphere in the interior and are a bright and flexible tool for interior designers.1

Also freestanding panels are created by the Aotta Studio by using this new acoustic material from conifer needles. 2

The fibers of the pine needles, without the dry exterior leaves, can be turned into useful forms also for the textile industry where they harbor huge potential.

The industrial process by which these can be accessed and harvested, and then very fine yarns made from them, is somewhat of a challenge, however, but it can be done. The yarns can be colored with natural dyes. Moreover, different types of pine and fir produce different natural shades of dye, which can be used to print on textiles. Katharina Jebsen goes into the details of how to open up the needles. In the process, new types of material emerge, which can be used as the basis for further material mixes. The results of this materials study can, in turn, be transferred to various types of needles. For example, it has been shown that the needles of the fir tree, too, can be used in the making of textiles. 3

Some examples of these new textiles obtained from the fibers of the conifer needles are shown below.


From pine needles it is also possible to obtain a new eco-sustainable plastic, able to replace the traditional one, made with oil, in the production of bags, food and medical packages. The grams of this new material were obtained in the laboratories of the University of Bath, Great Britain, thanks to a procedure described in the journal Polymer Chemistry.

“We’re not talking about recycling old Christmas trees into plastics, but rather using a waste product from industry that would otherwise be thrown away and turning it into something useful,” PhD student Helena Quilter, who worked on the new plastic, said in a press release. The team has only produced a few grams of the pine plastic so they plan to work on scaling it up. Once they begin generating larger quantities of the plastic, the chemists envision it could be used for food packaging, plastic bags and medical implants, they told the university. Davidson indicated he thinks that their raw material made from pine could potentially revolutionize the chemical industry. There are already biodegradable polyesters on the market, such as the PLA obtained from corn and sugar cane: to increase its flexibility, however, this material is often mixed with a chewy polymer called capro-lactone, instead of crude oil. To produce a truly 100% sustainable ecological plastic, Bath researchers have developed a ‘social’ capro-lactone material by utilizing pinene as a raw material, a natural organic compound that gives the distinctive odor to conifer needles.4

 These materials from conifer needles demonstrate how the production of natural and sustainable materials are possible without damaging the entire ecosystem and by maintaining material properties at the core of the production system.







A new fully biodegradable plastic from tomato skin

di Chiara Catgiu

A new fully sustainable and biodegradable plastic has been obtained from the tomato peel and it has been discovered starting from different projects and collaborations.

The EU-funded BIOPROTO (Bioplastic production from tomato peel residues) project main objective is in fact the fabrication of bio-plastics from the tomato fruit peel residues. They are an abundant and inexpensive waste from processing tomato industries rich in polysaccharides (chiefly cellulose, pectin and hemicelluloses) and lipids (soluble waxes and a non-soluble long- chain biopolyester named cutin). Specifically, the project is focused on the bio-mimicry of the plant cuticle that is the protective and outermost membrane that covers the plant epidermis of parts of plant organs exposed to air.

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The main aim in this project, the production of plant cuticle-like plastics has been divided in two: first, the synthesis and characterization of plant cuticle-like polymers from model substances and, second, the production of tomato peel plastics. These agro-wastes have been chosen because they have an elevated amount of cutin and the crop of tomatoes is an important business in the sector of the agriculture.

The European tomato processing industry processed 11,380,100 tonnes of raw tomatoes in 2004. Italy is by far the most important producer of processed tomatoes in Europe with a 53% share of European production followed by Spain (22%) and Portugal and Greece (10% each). Other minor producers include France and some of the new member countries, in particular Hungary and Poland. Nowadays, this inexpensive sub-product, tomato pomace, is used as animal feed.

Since the beginning of the project, different approaches have been developed to produce these new bio-plastics, Basically, they have consisted of a chemical synthesis in a very strong acid medium, a self-assembly process in water and diverse green and soft industrial processes. Also, a comprehensive study of the refinery of the tomato fruit peel residue from a perspective of IR and Raman spectroscopies has been carried out. On the other hand, interestingly, a new set of films and coatings from the lipid fraction of plant cuticles has been produced and characterized.

Despite the inherent difficulty of the combination of polysaccharides and lipids, main results achieved so far are ascribed to the development of a scale-up process for the fabrication of lipid- cellulose materials (bio-plastics) with potential applications in food packaging. Additionally, the critical reviews on IR and Raman features of plant cuticles has generated significant interest among specialists in the field.1

Another interesting and similar research project is taking place at the Italian Institute of Technology in Genova, Italy, in collaboration with the Centre for Scientific Research of Spain and the University of Malaga.

“It takes up to 4 years of research to get a product ready to be launched on the market – says Athanassia Athanassiou, IIT researcher and manager of the Smart Materials research group – taking inspiration from nature we have reproduced in the laboratory a biocompatible, biodegradable plastic coating 100% obtained from pepper and tomato peel and which retains the properties of the original product.“ 2

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Natural occurring polyhydroxylated fatty acids from tomato peels are excellent raw substances for the fabrication of different materials such as free-standing films, cellulose composites and coatings for cans.

They can be easily polymerized, by using a solvent-free melt-state process in very short times. The resultant materials shows a high hydrophobicity, good water and oxygen barrier properties, low opacity values, full biodegradability, and high adhesion to different metal substances.

Schermata 2017-07-20 alle 23.15.41

The main potentially exploitable markets are packaging, paper industry, textile industry, health care and food industry.

The same project developed at the Centre for Scientific Research of Spain and the University of Malaga aims instead at exploiting the natural viscoelastic properties of tomato peel, as well as its waterproof nature and protection capacity against other liquids, as well as parasites; a discovery that could also in principle be extended to other vegetables, such as bell peppers. However, scientists have prioritized tomatoes, particularly because the industry tends to discard the peel, which is usually discarded after the tomatoes are peeled for canning.

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The Professor of biochemistry Antonio Heredia and the scientist José Jesús Benítez, co-authors of the research study of the IIT, have worked with various kinds of vegetables until this discovery was made and patented. The most notable development from an environmental standpoint, also in this case, is the minimal impact that this use of the peel has, with the plastics produced being also biodegradable in the short term.

In this research, through a process of in vitro depolymerization, the original tomato polymer degrades its monomers and is polymerized again through chemical reactions to obtain a “plastic”

that has the properties of the shell of vegetables, but whose size or thickness can be shaped to meet specific needs.

Also here, in terms of industrial applications, trials have aimed primarily at coating aluminium cans containing beverages with imperceptible nanolayers in some cases. 3

Currently, petroleum-derived products are used to prevent drinks from coming into contact with the aluminium. Some of these components are banned for use in products for children; a problem which could be solved with these new fully sustainable alternatives.

The potential impact on society of this new material is threefold: first, these new bio-plastics are biodegradable with no adverse effects on the environment. Secondly, an inexpensive agro-waste (tomato peel) with costs to be removed is recycled and used as raw material. Last but not least, the fabrication of these bio-plastics and the use of tomato peels could generate new business and employment opportunities in the future.


2 J. Heredia-Guerrero, J. Benítez, P. Cataldi, U. Paul, M. Contardi, R. Cingolani, I. Bayer, A. Heredia and A. Athanassiou, “All Natural Sustainable Packaging Materials Inspired by Plant Cuticles”, Advanced Sustainable Systems, 2017, 1600024


Materials for the Circular Economy

di Chiara Catgiu

A linear economy, that extracts resources at increasing rates, according to the principles of take-make-dispose, without consideration of the environment in which it operates, cannot continue indefinitely. The concept of a circular economy promises a way out. Here products do not quickly become waste, but they are reused to extract their maximum value before safely and productively returning to the biosphere.1

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Materials play an essential role in circular economy. By designing products with materials that come from, and safely flow, into their respective nutrient cycles, they can be part of creating an optimized materials economy that eliminates the concept of waste.2

Not long ago, materials selection was considered a small part of the design process. The selection of a material for a specific purpose is a lengthy and expensive process. Approximately always more than one material is suitable for an application, and the final selection is a compromise that brings some advantages as well as disadvantages. Material selection is an interdisciplinary effort and it often requires different fields of study such as material science and engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering and other experts in the field of application.3

Schermata 2017-07-14 alle 21.05.03Traditionally, materials selection for the design of facilities is based on economic and technological considerations, given the desired life span of a facility and the program of requirements and codes it must meet.

In design environments where ecological, health, and ethical impacts are increasingly important, often the only way to choose from many different material alternatives is by relying on experience and observation. In selecting materials, designers have to take into account a large number of factors, including sustainability, durability, recyclability and materials impact on environment.

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A sustainable material or a sustainable resource is something whose production is supported indefinitely by nature, which means, a resource is used up at the same speed that it is renewed. From the moment the raw materials are extracted to the moment the final product is disposed of, there must be no permanent damage to the environment.4

By integrating environmentally sustainable materials into design projects, it is possible to significantly reduce environmental impacts through less energy consumption, less natural resource depletion and pollution, plus less toxicity for both the occupants and the entire ecosystem.

These both minimize the negative impacts on the environment and occupants whilst maximizing positive impacts over the lifecycle of a design facility. But little research has yet focused on designers’ choices of sustainable materials and those that have demonstrated on the whole that sustainable materials selection is not a priority.5

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The circular economy illustrates a model, by operating in many different ways, which suggests:

  • Tight inner circles where minimum new materials are used before materials can be re-used, refurbished or re-manufactured. Such products offer the greatest savings in terms of embedded costs, materials, energy and labor. They also offer the greatest savings on environmental effects or externalities such as emissions to air, land or water, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Circles of use where the number of times materials can be used through consecutive circles is increased. Re-use, remanufacture or recycling is used to achieve this objective;
  • Cascade use, where materials are recovered, re-engineered and cascaded into new uses from that originally envisaged. Good examples are recovered plastics used as insulation materials rather than packaging or cotton cascaded into a series of uses once it is no longer suitable for recovery and re-use in clothing;
  • Pure circles, where uncontaminated materials are returned for re-use in primary manufacturing. 6

This type of research will continue, as society understands the potential to use secondary materials from waste as a primary source for new design products, in a completely circular economy model.

E. M. Foundation, “Towards the Circular Economy,” 2013.

E. M. Foundation, “The Circular Design Guide,” 2016.

A. Jahan et al., “Material Screening and Choosing Methods – A Review,” Materials and Design, vol. 31, pp. 696–705.

M. F. Ashby, “Materials Selection in Mechanical Design”, Third edit. 2005.

C. S. Hayles, “Environmentally sustainable interior design: A snapshot of current supply of and demand for green, sustainable or Fair Trade products for interior design practice”, International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment, vol. 4, pp. 100-108.

ISWA, “Circular economy: trends and emerging ideas”, 2015.

Clear Wood, il nuovo appeal del legno

di Naike Cogliati

Potreste mai immaginare di usare il legno per produrre celle solari trasparenti? Ebbene sì, fra qualche anno sarà possibile e nel frattempo un team del KTH Reale Institute of Technology di Stoccolma sta mettendo a punto il cosiddetto ‘legno trasparente’, ovvero un tipo di impiallacciatura in cui il componente delle pareti cellulari viene spogliato chimicamente.


Non a caso tutto ciò avviene in Svezia,  la mecca del legno, l’unico paese in cui il 90% delle case sono di legno e in cui il trattamento di quest’ultimo è divenuto una cultura.

L’esperto di biomateriali Lars Berglund, ricercatore guida del team, ha ideato una tecnica per creare un legno trasparente con una trasmittanza ottica dell’85% e facile da produrre a livello industriale.
La “magia” avviene nel momento in cui dal legno viene rimossa chimicamente la lignina, un polimero organico responsabile del colore giallognolo del legno che insieme alla cellulosa costituiscono le pareti cellulari, le quali assorbono la luce.


Il legno diventando, a seguito del processo, di colore bianco, necessita successivamente una modifica della sua struttura nanoscopica per ottenere l’effetto trasparente.
Attraverso l’aggiunta del metilmetacrilato prepolimerizzato (PMMA), un polimero a ridotta tossicità, viene modificato l’indice di rifrazione del materiale, per cui, a seconda delle applicazioni richieste, sarà possibile variarne la trasparenza.


Gli studiosi statunitensi della University of Maryland hanno tentato invece con la resina epossidica, ottenendo un materiale da quattro a sei volte più resistente e che ha permesso di usare i tessuti del legno che trasportano la linfa, dopo averli riallineati verticalmente, come passaggi per filtrare la luce.


Nel materiale così ottenuto è possibile osservare il floema e lo xilema, i due tessuti che nei vegetali hanno il compito di trasportare le sostanze nutritive, la linfa grezza nel caso dello xilema, la linfa elaborata nel caso del floema.

Tramite tale processo si mantiene quindi la struttura portante del legno, lo si rende trasparente, e allo stesso tempo più forte.
Il legno potrà così soppiantare l’uso del vetro tradizionale a base di silicio e diventare ancora più vantaggioso per la sua intrinseca resistenza, tenacità, bassa densità e bassa conducibilità termica.


Pensiamo anche all’uso del legno per le finestre, i pannelli solari, ma soprattutto come principale componente edilizio per la costruzione di abitazioni a minore impatto ambientale.
Si tratta infatti di un materiale dal forte isolamento termico, non completamente trasparente ma comunque in grado di garantire il passaggio di una grande quantità di luce e di conseguenza l’efficienza energetica dei vari dispositivi eco-compatibili che aumenterebbe del 30%.

Un vecchio e antichissimo materiale che, ripensato e “annegato” nella tecnologia, diventa più forte dell’acciaio ma notevolmente più leggero di quest’ultimo.
Resta allora da chiedersi se abbiamo bisogno che questo nuovo materiale soppianti totalmente l’uso del vetro; di certo i presupposti sono molto buoni, ma solo il tempo e gli sviluppi futuri ci diranno se questa innovazione avrà davvero successo.


DESIGN FOR MATERIAL is a module of the “Design for Enterprises” training course, completely free and online for European SMEs, designers and intermediary organization by European Union.

You can find it here:

The author of this module is Marinella Ferrara. She is a professor of Industrial Design at the Politecnico di Milano and coordinator of the Material Design Culture Research Center at the Design Department.
She said: Today one starting point for innovation is to pay attention on new materials and their performance.

The module Design for Material cover a strategic skill for Small and Medium Enterprises or start-ups or involved in design: how to use innovative materials bringing competitive advantage and opening up new markets for your products and services.
The module clarifies the several factors to consider developing or choosing a material for consumer products. And help you to apply a systematic approach of material innovation into your business to make sure that people will love your products.

You will learn that material performance is also based on sensorial perception, consumers experience, and cultural values. And you will look at materials with different eyes.

Material innovation requires both technological exploration and a broader understanding of its meaningful application for consumers. So it becomes strategic to foresee trends of innovation driven by social, cultural, economic and environmental drivers. Then, you will learn how to manage a design process where different actors, like scientists, suppliers, creative communities and consumers are becoming deeply engaged.

Design for Material module is divided into five sections:
1. Why design for material?
2. About material performances and user emotions
3. Design contribution to materials research
4. Creativity-driven material innovation methodology
and finally (5) a special focus on a selection of materials that will change the future.

In every section, case studies are presented. And you will learn from start-ups and Small and Medium enterprises that applying the creative approach, thus winning the creative challenge of product innovation, achieving both product functionality, material distinctiveness and clarity of message.

A case in point is a young Italian company called Wood-skin, that patented a new composite material based on wood that combines the rigidity of the traditional material with the flexibility of textile, allowing different applications like customizable architectural and design products.

Un anno all’insegna della matericità. Curiosità dal Salone del Mobile 2016

di Naike Cogliati

Il Salone del Mobile 2016 l’ha riconfermato! Nella contemporaneità sono i materiali con le loro caratteristiche, espressioni e identità a dare valore e significato a tutto quello che vediamo e tocchiamo. Oggi i consumatori, sempre più evoluti ed esigenti, non si accontentano di un prodotto che funziona, ma esigono soddisfazione e piacere. Riconoscono l’importanza della dimensione espressivo-sensoriale degli oggetti. Da qui il diritto, da parte dei materiali, di fare la parte del leone per conquistare ampi spazi in tutti i settori.  Da qui la scelta di molte aziende che puntano su materiali innovativi per l’innovazione di prodotto. Da qui la caccia ai materiali da parte dei designer e la scelta del Cosmit di proporre i materiali come tema portante del Salone Satellite nel 2016.
Di seguito cinque novità dal mondo del design.

Carte da parati dinamiche
Nuove influenze materiche hanno modificato il modo di concepire le carte da parati per caratterizzare in modo incisivo gli spazi interni in cui verranno applicate. Lamine di metallo sottili come garze sono applicate sul materiale di supporto dando vita ad incredibili effetti tridimensionali, illusioni ottiche, lucenti arcobaleni, infiniti riflessi e ologrammi. Sono gli stessi bagliori a trasmettere sensazioni di dinamismo e sfondamento dello spazio.

cassiopeia_820171_2000x700      820892_Gorgo_1440x1100

820152_ashera_1440x1100    820302_mandarava_2000x700
410532_Maliure_1440x1100    250472_natural-bamboo-02_2000x700


Non mancano altre applicazioni materiche: sughero, bambù, tabacco, fili d’erba, cortecce, foglie in rilievo per le carte da parati in materiali naturali; fogli metallici ossidati, incisi o goffrati per quelle metalliche; fibre floccate (di raion alle quali viene applicata una carica elettrostatica per farle raddrizzare e dare un effetto vellutato)  incollate al materiale di supporto per quelle ad effetto soffice; fibre intrecciate (cotone, seta, lino, feltro, raffia, corda, piume) su carta o tessuto per effetti tessili; strati di vinile goffrato per quelle ad effetto pelle; perline di vetro per quelle luminescenti; e poi pieghe, grinze, materiali sgualciti e stropicciati, venature e plissettature.

La resina a nobilitare il legno
Riva1920 con Cube, presentato al Salone del Mobile 2016, fonde insieme tradizione e contemporaneità per ridare nuova vita a un legno risalente a 48.000 anni fa. Un tavolo che esibisce un antichissimo top in legno, Kauri, nel quale è stata colata e lucidata a mano una resina trasparente. Il cliente ha la possibilità di acquistare un pezzo unico personalizzabile a suo piacimento in cui convivono quasi naturalmente due materiali che si compensano a vicenda. Il tavolo è completato da una base in ferro naturale con saldature a vista, che sembra sollevare e tenere in sospensione il top senza intaccarne la bellezza delle sue venature.


Arredi 100% sughero
L’idea di Paola Navone, per i nuovi arredi outdoor presentati al Salone del Mobile 2016 da Gervasoni, è proprio quella di usare questo noto materiale riciclabile al 100% per produrre poltroncine, tavolini e sedute dalle linee sagomate e arrotondate. La linea Cork è realizzata attraverso un procedimento di pressa a vapore che trasforma le resine naturali del materiale in strato protettivo contro gli agenti atmosferici. Un materiale quindi naturale, resistente e idrorepellente che si presta a svariate applicazioni e che nelle sue forme richiama le calde e rilassanti ambientazioni del Mediterraneo.


Sughero per cucinare
Rimanendo sempre in tema sughero, un’altra designer si è cimentata nell’utilizzo di questo poliedrico materiale. May Kukula ha sviluppato gli Hotpot in porcellana o sughero, contenitori per inserire pentole, terminare cotture e sostituire piatti di portata, che principalmente ottimizzano il calore durante la cottura dei cibi. Hotpot è un dispositivo progettato per i pasti dalla cottura lenta che incoraggia le persone a cambiare il loro modo di cucinare. Il cibo dopo essere stato scaldato sul fuoco viene messo nella ciotola di ceramica all’interno nel contenitore di sughero che prosegue a mantenerlo caldo fino a cottura ultimata. Le proprietà isolanti del sughero permettono infatti al cibo di mantenere alte temperature per molto tempo dopo essere stato rimosso dalla fonte di calore. Questo procedimento di preparazione dei cibi, permette di risparmiare energia elettrica e di non utilizzare il forno. La dimensione e la forma rotonda del piatto ceramico caldo inserito nel suo morbido “packaging” invita l’utente a mettere in tavola la cena servendola direttamente nei contenitori utili alla sua preparazione.


L’agar agar per la produzione di oggetti e packaging
L’agar agar è un’alga commestibile gelificante, estratta dalla bollitura di vari tipi di alghe rosse successivamente disidratata, che viene utilizzata congelata o pressata nella tradizionale cucina giapponese. I designer giapponesi Amam con il loro progetto Agar Plasticity hanno scelto tale alimento per la creazione di piccoli prodotti presentati al Fuorisalone 2016 presso lo spazio Lexus-Torneria. Una bioplastica stimolante, trasparente e fortemente malleabile. L’agar agar ha la grande potenzialità di diventare gelatina alla temperatura di 30-40°C e termoreversibile una volta raggiunti gli 85-90°C. Utilizzata per packaging ecologici funge da sostituto della plastica e risolutore dei problemi, sempre attuali, dello smaltimento dei rifiuti. Venduta allo stato secco si presenta porosa, con una struttura estremamente leggera, nonostante il volume, e ciò fa subito pensare al suo utilizzo nel campo degli imballaggi, che essendo biodegradabili non diventano successivi rifiuti da riciclare.


Anche se, a volere obiettare, questo parrebbe uno spreco di risorsa alimentare.