Last month, the Lab co-heads  Dr Elvin Karana and Dr Valentina Rognoli facilitated a 1-week masterclass on Material Driven Design in Taipei. The masterclass introduced to 20 designers various techniques and a method to discover the potential of a material beyond ‘function’. The masterclass was host by the Taiwan Craft Center, including field trips in Hualien, Fongbin Town, and Taichung to experience the making of ‘banana fibers’ in a local workshop and a craft center, for which designers were challenged to find new expressions and application through the week.

The Lab Co-heads commented the results:

“We are truly fascinated by the results! 20 designers, 7 days of intensive work! They haven’t slept last night to prepare the exhibition. “How could we use banana trees as resource for new material concepts, beyond the traditionally known one, i.e. yarn?” This was their challenge through this masterclass. They used, from the stem to the leaves, every bit of a tree to create material concepts. While one designer used the inner texture of the stem as a mould to give texture to metal, another one used the same inner structure of the tree as a canvas to weave with bamboo fibers. One designer made a glue like material to repair broken objects; another one created a hybrid material with both soft and hard qualities from the same tree. The participants also learnt how to articulate their vision and how to build their material narrative. For us the biggest happiness is that we could see them using a total new vocabulary to describe their process and the materials; and a new lens to ‘see’ and ‘listen’ the materials around us! Thank you, Linna Yi-Shiang and her team for organizing this masterclass; and our lovely translator and personal guide Chen-Hau Hsu for all the great work.

Hope to see you soon,

Elvin and Vale”

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