Neri Oxman’s Materials Revolution

How we change the focus of design from a personal and arbitrary form and function to a self-forming process has received a lot of attention in landscape architecture and ecological restoration, but is usually resisted in the field of architecture and design where the cult of personal expresion still seems to be king – here is an alternative view from asladirt

At the 2011 GreenBuild, Neri Oxman, director of Mediated Matter at MIT Media Lab and one of the few who made Fast Company’s top 100 creative people list, wants to “introduce a new dimension or sensibility” into materials production. Proposing to turn the design and engineering worlds on their heads, she said we should no longer “design against an objective function, but instead design for multiple functions in one system. It’s about continuity, not repetitive, modular approaches.”

Oxman is focused on how to use design processes to “mediate between matter and the environment.” She said the natural world uses a range of principles, which is why we easily recognize so many forms. Natural objects are the result of some internal logic that generated the form. She thinks this logic can be harnessed to create building, medical, and even furniture innovations, but is still trying to figure out whether this would lead to a more sustainable future.

Some future predictions: In 10 years, Oxman sees materials as “the new software,” and integrated into everything we do. The circuit board will be obsolete. The material itself will be smart. Materials will know how to change for its distributions. For example, buildings could have breathing skins that help modulate the interior temperature. By 2100, there will be “biofabrication and construction.” Then, one thousand years in the future, there will be “CAM-DNA.” In this example, a chair would be created out of DNA material and would grow with humans over their lifetime. Materials would think, respond, and compute things themselves. When hearing all of this, one professor at Harvard told her that the ideas were great, but the cost would be out-of control high.


French for "single shell," Monocoque stands for a construction technique that supports structural load using an object's external skin.


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2 thoughts on “Neri Oxman’s Materials Revolution

  1. Gretchen says:

    Write more, thats all I have to say. It appears that you relied on some good sources to
    make your point. You clearly know what you’re talking about.

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