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.

Research projects

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  • The left side of the graphic shows a number of material stages (compounds, organic sheet, various recyclates), whilst the right side shows a number of functional demonstrators (stool, chair, lamp).
    © Studio Jonathan Radetz

    Fiber-reinforced plastics are suitable for resource-conserving and climate-friendly lightweight-construction solutions. They can make cars, building elements, furniture, containers and many other products more sustainable - particularly if renewable or recycled raw materials are thereby utilized. However, can the products also be easily recycled? Product design, technology, waste streams, economic efficiency: The influencing factors are extremely diverse. So how can marketable products made from fiber-reinforced plastics be conceptualized for a sustainable circular economy? In this project, we are working in collaboration with designer Jonathan Radetz on the development of an interdisciplinary method for this purpose. The development of a piece of seating furniture will enable us to test whether the method works in practice. Based on this, sustainable development methods could be developed in a similar way for other (composite) materials.

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  • Sketch and computer visualization of a chair consisting of a seat shell and a metal frame with four legs.
    © Studio Jonathan Radetz

    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. Discarded and recycled textiles are utilized for the fabric. Furniture made in this way is lightweight, can be produced inexpensively, and offers a wide variety of materials and shapes. Chairs are just the beginning - the technology can be transferred to other areas of application.

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  • The photo shows a floating island and a person who is lifting up a corner of the island. On the underside, the roots of the plants can be seen.
    © Designstudio »morgen.« | Martha Starke

    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. This consists of 100 percent renewable raw materials – including recycled balsa wood from wind turbines. Through this project, a new form of green space will be created in the city: valuable biotopes, recreational spaces and meeting places on the water.

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  • Two hands in blue laboratory gloves hold a black, plastic-like piece of lignin derivative and twist it in opposite directions.
    © Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

    Many chemical products, such as paints, adhesives, plastics and synthetic fibers, are based on aromatic carbon compounds. Currently, the majority of these are derived from fossil raw materials such as 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. The petrochemical source materials cannot, however, simply be replaced by lignin. Creative materials research is necessary here. In our project, the application of artistic methods enables us to identify suitable application possibilities for lignin, develop prototypes and establish a communication strategy. For this purpose, we are working together with designers from the Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. One aim of the project is the initiation of a sustainable connection between science, art and design.

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