We thought we would have some fun this week and do a round up of some of the latest designs using unusual materials. It’s all about carbon lately. Carbon fiber is a popular – often radical – material, and carbonized wood is a traditional material turned trendy. Both are taking the design world by storm.
All About Carbon Fiber
Designed by CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Italo Rota, the new MAE Museum will be dedicated to carbon fiber. MAE is one of the leading machinery manufacturing companies located in Piacenza, Italy. Not only will this new museum be all about carbon fiber, but it will be made largely out of carbon fiber. The museum itself is an exhibit that shows off the ecological potential of this material.
Using both new and recycled carbon fiber, the museum will primarily display the different uses for synthetic fibers – from fashion to cycling.
Robotics will be used as tour guides throughout the museum documenting the archives of technology, scientific advancements in development, and illustrating how those advancements parallel changes in society and fashion.
Located inside a renovated warehouse, the museum follows the journey of carbon fiber from the past to the future. Most of the interior will be built using acrylic and carbon fiber – including the front entrance which “open like a curtain.”
According to designer Carlo Ratti, “From high-performance bikes to the Lamborghini Aventador car, carbon fiber is driving innovation in multiple sectors. The MAE Museum celebrates a defining material of modernity, by focusing on its new circular frontier and envisioning new applications for its use.”
Protected from Earthquakes with Carbon Fiber
Japan-based Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory has created a new way to protect buildings from earthquake damage. Known as the CABKOMA Strand Rod, this carbon fiber composite is covered in synthetic and inorganic fibers before being finished with thermoplastic resin.
The Strand Rod was used by designer Kengo Kuman to cover and protect Komatsu Seiten’s head office – now called the “fa-bo” (fabric laboratory). Considered the lightest seismic reinforcement in the world, carbon fiber strands have a delicate and aesthetically pleasing look.
Its beauty can hide its surprisingly high tensile strength. A chunk of steel that would provide the same strength as one Strand Rod weighs around 5 times more. At only 14 kgs per roll of Strand Rod, the Strand Rod is easy to carry.
According to Komatsu Seiten Fabric Laboratory the Strand Rod was developed to address the combined issue of the upcoming Japanese labor shortage due to an aging population and the aging infrastructure.
Unlike carbon fiber, carbonized wood is an ancient Japanese technique that is taking over the design world.
Known in Japan as Shou Sugi Ban, carbonized wood was developed on the island of Naoshima to prevent damage to the wood used in fishing village. Originally, the process involved burning the outer layer of the wood with fire. That method has been updated and now the wood is charred using a torch.
Not only does carbonized wood have a sleek, minimalist, and modern look, the process actually causes the wood to be immune to damage from termites, fungi, and other threats from nature.