It is up to us to make it happen

June 5, 2010

photo: Arndt Menke-Zumbrägel

At BerliNordik’s “bright green design” exhibition Berlin-based designer Arndt Menke-Zumbrägel proves that natural materials can be used to construct high-performance devices.

Currently, only very few designers still use wood as a construction material. New materials provide new opportunities, but do we really know wood already? Is it not possible that there is even more in it than those wonderful shapes Charles and Ray Eames created out of deformed plywood?

photo: Andreas Velten

After all there is a long tradition combining wood and design with each other, even older then the term design itself. According to estimates out of the 60.000 different woody plants worldwide only about 10.000 have been analyzed so far regarding their material properties (Spring, Glas 2005). Only 300 are used in the industry which shows the enormous potential of wood to be used in new fields of application.

In today’s design wood is mostly chosen because of its optic or haptic attributes. To use wood as a proper construction material there are plenty of requirements to pay attention to e.g. such as shrinking and moisture expansion. As an anisotropic material it can only be loaded in the direction of its fiber. To rely under these circumstances on this material to construct a high-performance device requires accurate knowledge of the material itself as well as new and innovative processing methods. This diploma thesis (master degree) demonstrates the performance of wood as a construction material using the example of a fully functional bicycle frame with the astonishing little weight of 2,3kg.

Not only does the growing responsibility of designers to care about environmental impact indicate a possible return of wood as a state of the art material again. It is also up to us now to make it happen.

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One Response to “ It is up to us to make it happen ”

  1. [...] images from three projects in the images. One project is featuring a partially wooden bike called “Holzweg”. Here I was asking myself how good the different material components can be dissassembled. Another [...]

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