Immaterial | Ultramaterial

Project: Independent Study research project and exhibit, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Design, Research and Fabrication: Kristen Giannattasio + Heather Walls
Project Coordinator: Toshiko Mori
Faculty Advisor: Nader Tehrani

This investigation began with an interest in developing a new way of conceptualizing wood veneer as a building material.  Initially, [as our research took us down the roads of Eames, Aalto, Thonet, we were confronted with the realization that maybe ‘its all been done before’ and the even more daunting question that examines our role as researchers; what exactly can we contribute to the field of wood construction and disciplines of architecture and design.  With this question in mind, the research evolved into a pursuit of a new way of bending wood that did not involve heat, glue and pressure (the process developed by Charles and Ray Eames of the 1940’s that is still being used today); essentially we were searching for what we called a “dry” technique.  We developed a system of transforming two-dimensional material into three-dimensional form that was based on the understanding of clothing design and manufacture.  Similar to clothing manufacture, this system depends on the geometry of the “pattern” and the construction of the seams to determine the resultant form.  The language of darts and seams was adopted, creating more fluid translations across the surface of the wood.   It was our intention to exploit the thinness of the plywood, achieving structural rigidity through the geometry and construction of the seams which generate the curves.

The process of design and construction required a multi-technological approach, incorporating computer modeling, laser cutting, 3-d Printing technologies, as well as a more primitive use of fitting a dress form.