“How do we invent form, where do we begin?” asks Neri Oxman, associate professor of media arts and science at the MIT Media Lab in a talk with PopTech. “…is it a matter of getting rid of the stone that is in the way as Michelangelo once pointed?” Oxman, who is the child of two architects, with degrees in medicine, architecture, and a PhD in design computation from MIT, is as worthy as anyone to quote the legendary renaissance tinkerer. Oxman’s thoughts on materials and the democratization of design might change the face of architecture.

BEAST - Oxman's Sensually Curved Answer To a Lounge Chair // Courtesy of MOMA

Driven by insatiable curiosity and a prophetic vision of design, Oxman creates sensually curved lounge chairs, construction materials that mimic human tissues, and quests to destroy the age of the Mies glass skyscraper, a structure in which materials serve disparate purposes — steel supports, while glass is purely environmental. If Oxman had her way, architectural elements would be multifunctional. Structural elements may provide heat transfer, light exchange, or ventilation, as seen in the shell of a robin’s egg.

Neri Oxman // Courtesy of MIT

Oxman’s ideas straddle science and art, creating a process for industrial age production while reducing environmental impact. For this, and for making science sexy, she is getting a lot of attention. She was named to ICON’s “top 20 most influential architects to shape our future” and FASTCOMPANY’s “100 most creative people” in 2009. She has exhibited at MoMA, The Frac Collection, and the 2010 Beijing Biennale. The list is exhaustive, but when she speaks about design one doesn’t get the sense of a cold academic or even an individual who cares about being named to lists in magazines. Rather, Oxman strikes one part mystic, one part scientist, sharing a vision based on connections she’s making with her fellows at the Mediated Matter research group at MIT.

Variable density concrete // Mimics the human bone, and may be printed by a 3d Printer

Tropisms // Courtesey of MOMA

Leaf MicroScale Models // Courtesy of MOMA

courtesy of creativeapplications.net