Words by Antti Rimminen

The basis for the future of design lies in material innovations. In this series of articles we explore just a few of the many ideas that the Around Team feels could make a difference and change the way we think about the materials that surround us.

We’ll be posting more about interesting concepts and products within this field in the coming months.

Exhale – a bionic chandelier by Julian Melchiorri


Exhale is the world’s first living Bionic Chandelier which purifies the air indoor. Created by the London based designer Julian Melchiorri, this piece explores how advances in biotechnology and engineering can be applied to everyday objects and architecture to increase the quality of our lives. The chandelier purifies the air indoors through photosynthesis performed by living microalgae enclosed into leaf modules.

The Material Age: Exhale – a bionic chandelier by Julian Melchiorri

Exhale is also the first living object which continuously grows while performing biologically-driven depurative functions. The light of the chandelier illuminates the space but also stimulates photosynthesis performed by tiny microalgae. This living microorganism feeds on carbon dioxide while releasing breathable oxygen into the room.

The Exhale chandelier is now also part of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Find out more on Julian Melchiorri’s website.

UM Project & Flavor Paper: Conductive Wallpaper

Conductive Wallpaper by UM Project and Flavor Paper twists the idea of hiding electric wires behind the walls and instead puts them on a wallpaper using water-based conductive inks. ‘Conduct’ is a skillful combination of innovative engineering and inspirational ideas, with a bright and engaging arrangement that gives new meaning to wallpaper.

Conduct by Flavor Paper & UM Project. Photo by Francis Dzikowski / OTTO.

The user is able to control lights, speakers and a fan when individuals touch key points on the screen printed conductive ink tiles. Handprinted plywood tiles featuring graphic circuitry traces connect with polished copper tabs that conduct electricity to the UM Project function boxes.

Conduct by Flavor Paper & UM Project. Photo by Francis Dzikowski / OTTO.

Read more on Flavor Paper’s website.

Plasmarock by Inge Sluijs – ‘The rebirth of waste’

This project explores the potential of post-industrial waste.

Photo: Ruzena Vakulenko

Landfills are viewed as ticking time bombs, especially the coastal historic landfills that were used between 1890 and 1990 and are located in coastal or river areas. In the U.K. alone there are 2946 different coastal historic landfill areas and it is known that at least 1655 of these contain dangerous materials.

Field research photos by Ruzena Vakulenko

In desiger Inge Sluijs’s project, the landfill is seen as a potential source for a commercial material – when treated right. In the Plasma Gasification process the waste is transformed from solid matter into gas at various temperatures – a process now used in waste management in some countries.

The current main purpose is to use the waste gas in the energy industry, converting it from something highly toxic to something that can be a viable and valuable alternative to fossil fuels and natural gas. As a by-product of this process, plasma rock is produced.

Plasma rock is the waste of waste – something that was broken down to its atomic elements and then fused together. It is now seen as something completely invaluable but it could become a new material that can be used for various purposes. Inge Sluijs explores the potential of this matter and the first of her creations are tiles and glass products which show the commercial possibilites of the material.

The designer states: “The aim of this project is changing the way coastal historic landfills are seen. By using the materiality of the Plasma Rock as a tool to start mining the landfills. We humans have had a dominant influence on the climate and environment. So, it’s time to delete our traces or even better, evolve and transform them in to a new purpose!”

The Material Age: Plasmarock - Photo by Britt Berden
Photo: Britt Berden

Further details on the Inge Sluijs website.

Stay tuned for more innovative material ideas in the coming months here on Around.

// Mix and Viewpoint magazines have been used as a source for this article (links sponsored by Urban View).