This work presents a new generation of sheet material for furniture design.
Various raw materials, such metal, wood, and plastic, are vastly available in sheet. In the creation process of design and architecture, sheet materials have been frequently used for transforming flat surfaces into three-dimensional objects by cuts and folds. In this project, rather than looking at how to use sheet materials to create form, we explored how to dynamically control their stiffness. We invented a thin and lightweight material composite that can be tuned between rigid and soft states seamlessly.
Shifting the focus from designing form to designing stiffness would enable a new type of human-object interaction. When the material is soft, one can form it as desired, then switch it to rigid and let it perform. By switching it back to soft, one can reshape the material again.
The prototype of reForm shows a formal and functional adaptive furniture: from a carpet to a table to a chair and back.
We hope to scale up the idea of programmable stiffness-changing materials beyond furniture design. Such material can be truly beneficial for future Computer Interface, Medical Device, Wearables, even for Aircraft Design. Fore more application demos, please view the video in the external link.
The furniture contains multiply layers of sandpaper and an airtight fabric enclosure. The sandpaper is sealed in the fabric. Through a tubing, we connect a quite vacuum pump to the furniture. Electrodes are embedded in the sandpaper layers to detect human touch. Touch both end of the furniture will trigger the pump to vacuum the air and thus stiffen the furniture; touching only one end will release the negative air pressure and thus make the piece soft.
In the video, We showed several possible ways of reconfiguring the material into different shapes.