The world of design flourishes on technology transfer. A design discipline can often achieve innovative breakthroughs by borrowing materials, processes, and applications from another. Apparel design has been a popular interest within the field of architecture, for example, which has a long tradition of architectural textiles. As the Torino, Italy–based firm Yet/Matilde demonstrates, furniture design can also benefit from borrowing materials and approaches from the world of textiles.
Yet/Matilde's Continuous Function project explores the latent, multidimensional possibilities of structural fabrics. The furniture line showcases an unconventional use of jute fiber, a vegetable material that is the second most used fiber after cotton. The designers created rectilinear molds on which to drape multiple layers of the fabric, adding epoxy resin to create a rigid frame. Additional layers of fabric were added within the jute-epoxy framework for additional support and storage.
Although the indivisible marriage of epoxy resin and natural fiber results in an environmentally questionable hybrid, the use of biobased resins could result in a biocompatible and recyclable product. With regard to design, the transformation of a soft material from the fashion world into a rigid substance for the realm of furnishings marks an intriguing example of technology transfer with much future potential.
"As fashion absorbed design, Continuous Function exploits its materials," Yet/Matilde says. "Continuous Function goes beyond the traditional discontinuity differentiations of elements and materials in a product and creates a new relation with the space, through the use of unconventional materials and production processes."