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Biomaterials & Composites: Materials + Voids + System

Material Design and System Research
İstanbul Bilgi University, ComputationBased_BasicDesign
Distance Design Education
March-April 2021
4 Weeks
in collaboration with Bahar Avanoğlu and Meral Erdoğan


Material Library and Experimentations:

In COVID-19 Pandemic, we have had limited access to materials and workshops. A studio based on hands-on learning and design by making is not such easy under these unusual circumtances. We are creative personas and start imagining if all our materials were nutrients. As we remember  on Earth, all the living and dying is a vast and continual production of materials and nature knows how to source, use, breakdown and use again. Could not it be a design strategy to experience in the freshman year?

For 4 weeks, we have designed materials made of natural ingredients, searched for open source recipes and data on materials or developed our own recipes. We have tested materials and observed. We have created material assessment tables, checked various material qualities. We produced knowledge. Maybe, the most important point is that we have made this knowledge open and built both an individual and collective material library at the same time. We expect them to be aware of “knowledge sharing” as a designerly manner.

Together with designing biomaterials and composites, to create a system of voids, we focus on more fabric form-work. Fabric form-work is a new topic in the studio.  I have experienced since 2018 (see: 2019 and 2020: anti-gravity dance, 2018: pinterest).  However, using the fabric with biomaterials is a quite fresh approach to make a tensile structure free from its box and control/stretched points by providing it self-standing quality, structural capacity and durability. I remember my grandma applied laundry starch on ribbon strips she formed to tie to my pigtails.  I can add lemon-juice, a mixture of sugar and water in the list. ... what else? I like interpreting this kind of daily-life knowledge as a design challenge. Why not to use this common daily practice to formulate a design problem? Let’s call back the childhood memories. 

From the beginning to the end, students deal with elastic fabrics with specific making methods which are introduced them as system of branches and system of surfaces. We challenge specific structural conditions with elastic fabrics. We cut, sew, form, re-form, calculate, develop a recipe, cook, pour, laminate, impregnate, dream and build.  We oscillate between the calculus and the reality,  the measurement and the rule of thumb, the image and the materiality, the controllable and uncontrollable structural forces, the predictable and the surprise, the presence and absence of a frame, the wet and the dry, the freezing liquids and turning into solids, the tangible and the shadow, the assurance and the doubt. 

Even though we have a distance, textures, smells, gravity, lights and shadows, colors, materials are with us.  It has become a multi-sensory experience. 

System of branches:
1 Week

Students are expected to develop a branching system by stretching elastic fabric inside a wooden frame and use it as a cast for eggshell composite ceramic. They cut, sew and stretch a regular fabric to form their branches and create feed points.  When it dries, they remove the fabric and frame both.

Although students have used an “eggshell composite ceramic” recipe, they are encouraged to create at least 3-4 samples by applying a change factor. Then, they are expected to get the chance to observe material qualities and choose the best to use for their system of branches.

System of surfaces:
1 Week
Students have had a more experimental process in which they have decided both the bio-material(s), fabrics and their application method(s) to fabrics.  For this step, they are supposed to design a continuous surface with void inside a wooden frame and then to laminate the fabric with a biomaterial composite to provide it durability, structural rigidity and self-standing quality. The challenging point is that when it dries, they should get rid of the frame and the laminated and stretched surface should keep its form.

They have designed and used at least 3 different recipes to design materials and apply them on the fabric. You have made experiments to understand which materials could be used to give sturdity and structural stability to the fabric.

Materials + Voids + System:
2 weeks

Now, students are asked to combine all their experience in material research and casting and forming methods with both biomaterials and fabric to develop a MATERIAL VOID system. They are required to design a system of branches or surfaces in a volume of 20.000 cm3. They can choose either to design a modular, component-based approach or pick a more holistic design approach. VOID is still our key structure to build the system with materials and formworks.


Spring 2021
Computation Based Basic Design at Bilgi
Biomaterials & Composites: Materials +  Fabrics + Voids+ Systems

Instructors: Bilge Bal, Meral Erdoğan, Bahar Avanoğlu

Team: Aksel Pakyüz, Berat İriadam, Buket Pamuk, Ceyda Nur Doğan, Deniz Kantar, Dila Şapcı, Ece Su Palçik, Eda Nur Sicimli, Erdem Efe Bozkurt, Eya Mahfoud, Furkan Şamil Güneş, Jülide Özarıcı, Maya Kalali, Seda Sankur, Serra Barlas, Shahrzad Sabzkoohi, Sinemis Erdemir, Ülkem Tulya Tolunay, Yunus Aktay


Select of Student Final Works:

Seda Sankur

Deniz Kantar

Serra Barlas

Jülide Özarıcı

Buket Pamuk