Mesomatters: Design, Manufacture and Interact with Mesoscopic Materials




Arvind Satyanarayan
Between traditional industrial design, which operates at the macro scale (cm to m), and material engineering, which operates at the micro/nano scale (μm to nm), is the emerging design space of mesoscale. It is the scale of human hair or a grain of sand. It is the scale where material properties meet human perception, and rational meets intuition. In the past 10 years, additive manufacturing, especially 3D printing, enables designers to directly manipulate geometries at this scale. Yet the existing design and manufacturing methods could not unleash the full potential of mesoscale materials for the design world.

In the talk I propose a material-driven design methodology that employs additive manufacturing to design materials at mesoscale for interaction and product design. The ability to programmably assemble materials with tailored structures at the centimeter, millimeter, and micrometer length scales enables tunable mechanical and electrical properties. Those properties determine not only the static performance, but also, when energized, the dynamic shape-change of a material. The emerging material performance and behavior allows us to design unprecedented objects and environments with input (sensing) and output (actuation) capabilities, which can be integrated for the next generation of human-computer interfaces.

Jifei Ou (欧冀飞) is a designer, researcher and recent enterpreneur. His works focus on designing and fabricating transformable materials across scales (from μm to m). As much as his work is informed by digital technology, he is inspired in equal measure by the natural world around him. He has been leading projects that study bio-mimicry and bio-derived materials to design shape-changing packaging, garments and furniture.

Jifei was born and raised in southwest China and has brought his design practice and scientific research to Asia, Europe and the U.S. His works have been published in academic conferences such as User Interface Software and Technology (UIST, 2013, 2016), Tangible Embodied and Embedded Interaction (TEI, 2014 & 2016) and Computer-Human Interaction (CHI, 2015 & 2016); awarded by design competitions such as A’ Design Award (2016, 2017), FastCo IBD award (2016, 2017, 2018), IXDA award (2016), etc. He has been organizing workshops on shape-shifting materials with researchers, high school students and artists around the world. He is also deeply involved in the manufacturing community in Shenzhen in order to facilitate the real world application of his research.

Jifei holds an Ph.D and M.S. from the MIT Media Lab, and a Diplom in Design from the Offenbach University of Art and Design in Germany.