science | July 10, 2013

Bio-Inspired Design: Neri Oxman's "Mind-Blowing" Work Featured In Wired

”Imagine thousands of synthetic silkworm guided by environmental conditions such as light or heat," science speaker Neri Oxman envisions in Wired, "supporting the deposition of natural materials using techniques other than layering." The idea of silkworm-enabled construction may seem like science fiction. Thanks to Oxman and her team at MIT's Mediated Matter Group, however, bio-inspired fabrication has become a reality. In what Wired calls a "mind-blowing" project, Oxman merged nature and machine to create The Silk Pavilion.

Oxman, who was recently profiled on the cover of Icon Magazine, used a 3D printer to construct the skeletal structure of the dome. Then, 6,500 worms filled in the gaps to complete the structure. “The project speculates about the possibility in the future to implement a biological swarm approach to 3D printing,” Oxman explains. "This will allow us to exclude waste and achieve increased control over material location, structure and property.”

Oxman sees big potential for this kind of biomimicry-inspired construction. “Google is for information what swarm manufacturing may one day become for design fabrication,” she predicts. In all of her projects, Oxman produces jaw-dropping design concepts that fuse man, machine, and the natural world. Rather than working against nature, she advocates working with nature in tandem. For "if nature is sustainable and beautiful," she proposes in Icon, "how can we make things that are sustainable and beautiful?" She's rethinking design, and, when on stage, she'll show you what the future holds.

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economics | July 09, 2013