Wood-Skin: Composite material that's strong like wood, flexible like fabric (Video)

Wood-Skin
© Wood-Skin

Flat is boring (though it is convenient to transport when it comes to flat packed furniture). But a Milan-based company is bringing three-dimensional triangular goodness to walls and ceilings with Wood-Skin, a composite materials that merges the rigidity, strength and beauty of wood, with the suppleness of textiles -- designed to add an aesthetic punch to architectural surfaces, furniture and other sculptural elements.

Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin

Made out of digitally fabricated triangular tiles of Finnish birch sandwiching a nylon and polymer mesh in between, Wood-Skin is a pliable material that can be applied without the need for complex supporting structures underneath (no word on what type of adhesive is used; we hope it's eco-friendly). Its simple triangles allows for complex forms to takes shape with minimum fuss. It looks modern, yet organic in its ability to bend, flex and deform into various shapes, all facilitated by the simple triangulation of its surface.

Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin
Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin
Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin

According to Wired, designers Giulio Masotti and Gianluca Lo Presti first came up with the material as part of an open-source design competition back in 2012. They test drove the concept in Montreal, Canada, using it design part of the lobby of a local rock climbing gym. Says Masotti:

At that time we were looking for a solution that would fulfill our need to create complex shapes, every time different, based on a standard, but also ready to evolve in a smart, fluid, connecting system. What we created was a skin that would allow us to focus on the structure and would adapt to it, leaving the builder the total control with the flexibility to change the forms at any moment during the whole process.

Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin
Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin

Wood-Skin can be made as modules, sheets or rolls, which can be put together to form one seamless surface. Its manufacturing process allows for a wide range of customization: you can change the angle of excavation to adjust the angle of deformation, you can change the thickness of the wood, you can even get a sheet of the stuff with irregular triangles.

In a recent collaboration with MIT's Self-Assembly Lab, they are even starting to make self-transforming flat pack furniture with it. It comes flat, and with a simple tug, it magically pops up, ready to use, no fasteners or tools needed. Like their tiles, it's designed to be flexible and reusable, says COO Susanna Todeschini:

The good thing about Wood-Skin is that you can disassemble and re-use it as many times as you want without throwing it in the trash. You can fold our furniture up and store it under the bed when you’re not using it.

Wood-Skin© Wood-Skin

So what might materials like this mean for the future of design? Well, at the least you can expect walls -- or even outdoor facades -- with a more striking aesthetic, and perhaps even furniture and surfaces that are programmed to morph and self-assemble on their own. Neat stuff. More over at Wood-Skin.

Tags: Downloadable Design | Italy | Materials | Wood Construction

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