Bruce Sterling points us to this Interview with Neri Oxman by Andrew H. Dent, PhD on MaterialConnexion where Oxman opens your eyes to a whole new way to give form to everyday objects. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite:
Monocoque is a good example in which material properties are modified according to specific structural and environmental constraints. French for single shell, Monocoque, stands for a construction technique, which supports structural load using the object's external skin. Contradictory to the traditional design of building skins that distinguishes between internal structural frameworks and non-bearing skin elements; this approach promotes heterogeneity and variation of material properties. The project demonstrates the notion of a structural skin using a Voronoi pattern, the density of which corresponds to multi-scalar loading conditions. The distribution of shear-stress lines and surface pressure is embodied in the allocation and relative thickness of the vein-like elements built into the skin. The model was 3-D printed using the Poly-jet matrix technology which allows for the assignment of structural properties to multiple 3-D printed materials. This technology provides for an ability to print parts and assemblies made of multiple materials within a single build, as well as to create composite materials that present preset combinations of mechanical properties. Now imagine printing muscle that way.
Another significant aspect of the work lies in its capacity to translate physical phenomena into art or to express form-generating formulae as building prototypes. My contribution to Paola Antonelli's Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition at MoMA provided for such an opportunity. A series of four projects entitled Natural Artifice examined the relation between physical material properties and performance criteria such as structural load, heat transfer and insulation. All models were, in essence, expressions of forms front-loaded with data emulating their behavior a-priori to fabrication.