Speculative Models for the Present

X:

Y:

P[09]Bio-Fold

Client

IKEA: SPACE10

Location

Copenhagen [Denmark]

Year

2019 - Present

Output

Fabrication method
Digital interface

Applying

Cultural strategies
Soft speculation

To impulse technologies

Vacuum bagging
Biocomposites materials
Mycelium based binders

That deal with

Agricultural waste
Soil scarcity
Plastic reusability

In order to facilitate

Circular furniture supply chain

Bio-Fold stands at the intersection of material technology and cultural strategy. It deals with critical global issues such as plastic waste, soil scarcity, and deforestation due to agricultural development. Playing with cultural heritage, the project uses FRAKTA, IKEA’s iconic tote bag, as a symbolic device for the introduction of an already existing technology: vacuum bagging, in this case applied to biocomposite materials.

C[01]Biocomposites: Agricultural Waste as a Resource

The global food production industry creates millions of metric tons of agricultural waste every year – mostly in the form of vegetal fibres: straw, husk, leaf, stem, and similar. Currently, only 10% of this material gets put to use. On a global scale, these natural byproducts show significant promise for the production of biodegradable composite materials, or simply biocomposites. Biocomposites are formed by mixing vegetal fibres with a natural binder – such as plant-based resin – and compressing the material into a solid form.

C[02]Mycelium: A Natural Binding Agent

Bio-Fold started as an exploration on mycelium, the root like fibers mushrooms grow from. A natural technology that allows to produce structural and biodegradable materials from organic waste as a result of a natural self-growing process. Mycelium production, still immature, largely focuses on mould forming techniques. Mould formed structures have the disadvantage that they have long drying times and require a lot of space for its production, which implies problems of scalability. Our project aimed to solve those problems by exploring the possibilities of flat sheets formation as growth strategy to overcome mould limitations.

C[03]Vacuum Bagging: A Reinterpreted Technology

Early in the process we discovered vacuum bagging, an already existing technique used for shaping carbon fibre and plywood in the automotive and furniture industries. By providing temporary compression, vacuum bagging allows for the production of three-dimensional geometries out of completely flat sheets. We developed a homemade version, designed to be implemented on mycelium and other biocomposites, by using vacuum packing bags and a household vacuum cleaner. Instead of using moulds, we folded the sheets to generate self-sustaining structural morphologies. The process is relatively simple and consists of six main steps.

C[04]Our First Prototyping Sprint

C[05]Material Insights

Biocomposites based on mycelium, which are fully biodegradable, offer promising results but still present associated complexities – for example the need of an oven to dry the final pieces and the eventual need of oxygen for mycelium to grow healthy. We need to find a natural and biodegradable binder that can reach the right consistency within the vacuum.

01.

At the time, this was not a real option as the evolution of COVID-19 took as to logistic lockdown with no access to materials.

C[06]The Plastic Dilema

The material we have actually been working with is not mycelium (the filler) as much as vacuum plastic bags (the container). In the process, we used a large amount of disposable plastic bags, which defeated our original purpose of a circular and sustainable fabrication method. If we wanted the technology to be truly circular, we needed to create a recyclable and reusable plastic vacuum bag.

02.

This means the opening and closure mechanism should be durable and located on the longer side of the bag to facilitate the extraction of the produced pieces without needing to cut out the plastic used.

C[07]The Cultural Twist

Bio-Fold was supported by IKEA’s research and design lab SPACE10. IKEA happens to be the producer of the most iconic and recognisable recycled and reusable bag in the world, FRAKTA.

03.

FRAKTA is an everyday object people can relate to; a cultural icon with intrinsic cultural value. In early 2017, the fashion label Balenciaga hijacked FRAKTA to produce a $2,000 luxury leather bag that replicated the look of the original. This led to countless bottom-up reactions which involved hacking the $1 bag to produce all kinds of items.

04.

See Ikea Hackers

 

C[08]Hacking the Icon

With the above material insights and cultural trends in mind, the following question emerged naturally. Could we hack FRAKTA into a reusable vacuum bagging system to do what IKEA does in the first place? We produced a step-by-step guide to transform FRAKTA into a sealable object. The production of this prototype was developed according to three key principles.

Design Principles:

01.

DIY Approach

We used the traditional FRAKTA and the most accessible tools for the production of the sealable object.

02.

Ease of Extraction

The opening and closing mechanism would be durable and located on the long side of the bag to facilitate extraction.

03.

Standardisation

Instalation of  an eyelet-based attachment system in order to avoid using extra plastic tape and to enable the systematisation of folding patterns so as to produce replicable shapes.

C[09]The Digital Twin

We took the proposal a step further by conceptualising a user-friendly interface enabling the design of simple structural morphologies based on the dimensions of the reconstructed bag. Through the interface, users could print and share sets of folding instructions for the physical production of the designed pieces.

Using folding logics and aggregation strategies, we designed five initial prototypes as a proof of concept: a chair, a shelving system, two tables, and a stool.

C[10]A Homegrown Circular Furniture Supply Chain?

Not yet, but the culturally grounded narrative helped us to draw the possibility of a future where common people can homegrow their own furniture from locally sourced agricultural waste. Altogether, this enabled the project to grow within SPACE10 and served as a conversation starter with biomaterial and natural binder production companies in the right position to solve the technical aspects of our fabrication method.

 

More material samples coming soon!

Stay tuned!

Projects

Description

Client

P[09]Bio-Fold
FRAKTA Fetish for a Biodegradable Material Culture

IKEA: SPACE10

[+]

Bio-Fold stands at the intersection of material technology and cultural strategy. It deals with critical global issues such as plastic waste, soil scarcity, and deforestation due to agricultural development. Playing with cultural heritage, the project uses FRAKTA, IKEA’s iconic tote bag, as a symbolic device for the introduction of an already existing technology: vacuum bagging, in this case applied to biocomposite materials.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Copenhagen [Denmark]

Year

2019 - Present

Output

Fabrication method | Digital interface

P[08]Seiche
Automated Bureaucracy as a Pathway to Fluid Citizenship

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Overlapping jurisdictions and supranational infrastructures generate an increasingly complex network topology; the design, management, and mapping of their interactions is therefore a crucial task. Seiche is a speculative proposal for a visual programming platform enabling the definition and management of techno-legal procedures of information exchange between institutions that regulate such systems and the organisations that operate within.

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Khorgos [Kazakhstan]

Year

2018 - Present

Output

Speculative short film | Article | Interactive installation

P[07]Siren
Audiovisual Arctic Poem on Connective Alienation

Strelka Institute: The New Normal

[+]

Siren oscillates between the silence of the now deserted destination node of Magadan and the fullness of the fragmented archives that capture its evolution from a place of extraction to a place of archive. It emerges from statistical and interview-based research into port automation and the global inversion of gender patterns in supply chain employment...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Kolyma [Russia]

Year

2018

Output

Speculative short film

P[06]Æffect
Acid Infused Journal on Innovation Management

UAL: Central Saint Martins

[+]

Æffect grew as a bottom-up student-led initiative to create a strong and self-perpetuating community connecting innovation management students at CSM with alumni, staff and industry leaders through a mentorship scheme, an academic journal and web platform...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2017 - 2018

Output

Mentorship scheme | Academic journal | Web platform

P[05]Electric Cloud
Decentralised Networks of Energy Exchange

EDF: Électricité de France

[+]

The combined disruption of smart home devices and decentralised energy production and storage systems favour a progressive switch to ‘prosumerism’ in the energy market. Electric Cloud provided a strategy for EDF to adopt an ambivalent position as managers and traders in energy exchange networks, a role that would help them thrive in both a centralised or decentralised scenario...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Business model | Strategic road map

P[04]Critical Firm
Political Conflict as a Business Strategy in the Age of Purpose

Self-directed

[+]

With ongoing, deep, systemic trust crises across western societies, the rise of populist politics can be understood as a failure of corporate social responsibility - the hegemonic identity of the corporate establishment during the last two decades - to engage extensive sectors of a highly polarised population. To reinstate trust among those sectors, the corporate world needs to perform a parallelism that offers symbolic resolutions to the ongoing societal tensions...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[03]Discourse on Trends
Assembly Toolkit for Authenticity in the Digital Fluid

Self-directed

[+]

A shift towards fluidity in the discourse of authenticity in gender, sexual, and racial identity has already established the generating of a new structure of power and knowledge. As technology continues to dilute the lines between physical and digital space and persona, a new regime of truth on authenticity and identity around fluidity between physical and digital environments will follow…

[ ]See Full Project

Location

London [UK]

Year

2016 - 2017

Output

Strategic report | System map

P[02]Radical Swissness
An Architectural Framework for the Swiss Vernacular

group8

[+]

Define and perfection a framework and methodology for the development of architectural competitions within the Swiss context (a.k.a. domesticating the creative willpower of multidisciplinar international teams to fit the swiss vernacular...

[ ]See Full Project

Location:

Genève [Switzerland]

Year:

2014-2015

Output:

Architectural competition [with several awards]

P[01]UNOG
Energetic Renovation of the United Nations Palace

group8

[+]

In a demonstration of its commitment to the Strategic Heritage Plan, the Swiss Federal Council participated in the renovation of the “Palais des Nations” through a voluntary contribution of CHF 50 million. The aim of the renovation project was to bring The United Nations Palace into line with the concept of a "green building"...

[ ]See Full Project

Location

Genève [Switzerland]

Year

2012 - 2014

Output

Restored building | Automated energy management system