By Ar. Saket Sethi
What do Squishy Circuits, boric acid caramel; interactive paper and fish granite have in common? ‘Material Alchemy’ is a magical cook-book of recipes to push the literal envelope of build-wear-eat materials; both new and old, that you can create and discover simultaneously…
As is the practice to deeply focus on the composition of design; whilst sometimes overlooking the relevant materiality of its elements - this compilation offers you the chance to understand design through the eyes of newer spliced sub-atomic unit juxtapositions; perhaps as easily as the way a brick first afforded you the chance to understand a wall.
A lateral expressive clarity sets the tone for what you are about to learn in the book at the index itself. New age materials, trends and narratives are creatively and simply presented in 6 new material subgroups - each titled by the application style or a binding theme.
The singular goal of this book is to (de-alchemize, in a way) make accessible the new revolution of material understanding, creation and experimentation for both, reader and technical user alike. Propounding that new-age material accessibility will be as far from you as a kitchen or a garage; for example - allowing the development of highly personal forms and/or highly responsive meta-materials created from countless variations of the perhaps simple changes in ingredient proportions. In short, a material revolution elucidated in print.
Want to know how Van Herpen creates the next generation 3d printed garment - and what material makes it possible? Hungry to invent and consume the products of your own molecular gastronomy? How about ‘growing’ yourself? All just the tip of the meta-material iceberg…
Prepped with a historic basis to introduce material from a socio-economic perspective, the book takes a predictive approach to the future of material from a micro-consumer perspective. ‘Material Alchemy’ puts forth and ‘crunches’ the research of complex subjects like Lucy McRae’s ‘Make your Maker’ and examines difficult questions on the proposed utility of biological material in the same way as maybe Congdon/Hastings seek to explore the isolation of extracellular matrixes as means of cultivable material.
How does diLatte’s work help consumers participate in the production process (already a booming reality thanks to 3D printing and mass customization) or for that matter; and at the other end of the material spectrum - FotoPhantasma’s investigation into the relationship between tradition and local culture, via material.
All of this and more and collated in this nifty, ready reckoner shortlisting the most revolutionary potential approaches for the next generation of materials - the book is arguably a must-have for Architects, Chefs, Fashion and Industrial designers or more importantly, just a reader with interest in matter - as for me I’m already waiting Material Alchemy 2.
The reviewer is an architect and interior designer, whose work reflects the philosophy and explorative avant garde spirit of meaning and value in the conceptualization and execution of a project; impassioned to ‘explore design rather than package it’!