We teamed up with Modulor for our most recent open call — Material Hybrids — to give art students in Europe a chance to experiment with new materials. The high quality of submissions made it a challenging selection process, but the results are now in, and we’re pleased to present the winner and two runners-up!
The selected projects present diverse approaches to the theme, using multiple materials in combination to generate new forms, relationships, and processes. The winner and runners-up are awarded vouchers redeemable at Modulor’s online shop (worth 150 Euro and 50 Euro, respectively), and in addition to being featured in ArtConnect, will also be featured in Modulor’s online magazine and social media channels.
Also stay tuned for our in-depth interview with the first-prize winner!
Winner: Scarlett Yang
With the project “Decomposition of Materiality”
“From physical to digital, material to immaterial.”
My design practice focuses on how hybrids of material concepts converge and intersect. Combing tactile biomaterials and algorithmic design, I aim to explore how a combination of natural processes and technology can lead to a more sustainable design future, disrupting contemporary manufacturing and offering hope for new methods of making.
The project speculates a simulated ecosystem where biomaterials grow, decompose and shift form in reaction to the changing environments . The project explores sustainable design solutions through combining biodesign, digital fabrication, 3D-generative simulation and traditional textile design. The two main materials involved in the project: algae extract coming from seaweed, was used as the support structure of the design; Silk cocoon protein – ‘sericin’ – as a biowaste is commonly discarded in industrial wastewater from textile manufacturing. Developed utilising the properties of this protein material, I was able to engineer surface shape-change controlled by its surroundings – humidity, temperature, etc. This results in shrinkage and creases in specific areas of the textile in response to its local climate.
When seasons change from humid summer to dry winter, the biotextile stiffens and appears to be more sculptural, vice versa. When worn as a garment, the material ‘performs’ when parts of the wearer’s body harms up or sweat, or when the local climate starts to shift. This change of states can truly be infinite, which is hugely exciting.
As well as utilizing tactile engineering, much of the material’s design was engineered using 3D technologies. To design silhouettes, I first 3D-modelled my toile and simulated the textile material movements in various virtual environments. After documenting how the virtual textile flows, I focused on a handful of curated designs selected from hundreds of generated silhouettes which were developed further in detail.
3D animation became one of the final presentation mediums, showcasing the product in a virtual showroom. This presented the conceptual 3D textile collection, a biomaterial archive and animated visuals in a virtual gallery floating above the ocean, where digital versions of the design outcomes, research images and biomaterial samples gradually sink into the ocean. Accessed online or through a VR headset, the showcase enables an immersive experience where the decomposition process performs around the viewer, as well as immersively examining the biomaterial on a micro scale, speculating the amplified inner structure of the design objects. The virtual aspect of the project means the finite nature of the degradable textile is transformed into an endless digital artefact which can be accessed from all over the world.
About the artist
Scarlett Yang is a London based multi-disciplinary artist with a focus on tactility/ tangibility and digital/virtual realities. As an alumna of Central Saint Martins in London, her current works speculate on the intersection of art and technology.
“My design practice focuses on how hybrids of material concepts converge and intersect.”
Runner-up: Amalia Flarakou-Flari
With the project “Material Hybrids”
This project creates material hybrids through combining every day, urban materials to form abstracted outcomes. In this body of work, I have been using aluminium sheets and photographically printed vinyl adhesive. These are inspired by the materials prevalent on the redevelopment projects that surround the Royal College of Art, Dyson building, London; where my studio is located. These materials enter my artistic process through their existence in the mundane crevices of everyday life. The building materials that glide past our peripheral vision as we walk through urban space. Their existence a transitory sight before developments are completed.
I combine the aluminium and vinyl with photographic imagery, taken in these locations. I aim to capture mundane viewpoints like rubbish on the floor and the corners of the ceiling in my studio; also relating to the less-observed aspects of space. These images are then printed onto the vinyl adhesive, which is adhered to the aluminium. This creates a very smooth surface, the photographs on the vinyl are semi-transparent and the reflective surface of the aluminium enhances the colours in the image. In combination all the materials appear as one form, becoming a material hybrid. From the 2D flat pieces of aluminium and vinyl, I work to make the pieces 3D. I do this by my own bodily manipulation; crushing and warping the metal. This process distorts the image and the form. I also melt the excess pieces of vinyl which collapse and solidify into augmented objects. I am inspired by the transformative properties of materials not existing in one fixed state.
For me, creating material hybrids is about using two recognizable materials to generate a new form that doesn’t quite exist in reality. I find the combination of aluminium and plastic exciting because they are both familiar aesthetics of everyday, modern life. When combined, their reflective surfaces mimic the sleek, futuristic facades of London’s modern high rises. My motivation in bringing these seemingly banal materials together is the opportunity to create surreal material hybrids, that sit precariously between the familiar and the unknown.
About the artist
I am an artist and MA student based in Brighton, UK. I am currently studying Print at the Royal College of Art. My practice investigates the relationship between image, material, object and environment to create site-specific responses using everyday materials. I aim to provoke altered perceptions of space and materials through my interventions, challenging notions of the familiar to create uncertain outcomes.
“For me, creating material hybrids is about using two recognizable materials to generate a new form that doesn’t quite exist in reality.”