Science, art and design

How can science be inspired by art - and vice versa? What do researchers and artists have in common? How can they benefit from mutual dialogue? These are the questions being addressed by the Fraunhofer Network “Science, Art and Design”. Via a moderated structure, it seeks to promote interdisciplinary cooperation and the utilization of artistic methods for the discussion of complex social issues and the introduction of new perspectives into research processes.

Since October 2019, the Director of the Fraunhofer WKI, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bohumil Kasal, has been the Network's spokesman for the field of arts. His credo: “Artists and researchers are united by their imagination and their willingness to divert from well-trodden paths.”

Activities at the Fraunhofer WKI


Superwood for architecture and furniture manufacture

With support from the Fraunhofer WKI, designer Sofia Souidi is developing a formaldehyde-free material made from wood fibers and casein - a binder that was already being used as an adhesive many centuries ago. Mixed-in color pigments and granulates combined with 3D moldability enable a diverse range of design possibilities. The material is to be made, amongst other things, from recycled components and should itself be recyclable.


Furniture made from organic sheet: Individual, sustainable and comfortable

Seating furniture should be stable, attractive and comfortable. As a result, it often consists of a load-bearing body with upholstery. Designer Jonathan Radetz has a completely new approach to this. With the support of the Fraunhofer WKI, he is developing a chair whose seat shell and upholstery are made from organic sheet in a single step – utilizing discarded and recycled textiles.


Green Water

The Fleete (canals) of Hamburg's inner city were once full of life. Today, they are mainly unused and lacking in vegetation. The designers Beate Kapfenberger and Martha Starke would like to breathe new life into the urban waterways. With the support of the Fraunhofer WKI, they are developing floating islands which can carry plants and which are made from a robust and lightweight bio-material.


Thinking Lignin Design

Many chemical products, such as paints, adhesives, plastics and synthetic fibers, are based on aromatic carbon compounds derived from crude oil, natural gas and coal. The vegetable raw material lignin presents a promising alternative and is created in huge quantities as a waste product within the paper industry. In cooperation with artists and designers we identify suitable application possibilities for lignin, develop prototypes and establish a communication strategy.


The Art of
Wood Research

Is this art or science? The permanent exhibition “The Art of Wood Research” at the Fraunhofer WKI presents selected images from research at the institute, which could also be displayed in an art gallery. Beneath the surface of renewable raw materials, images are concealed which tell astonishing stories.