Newsletter 11.2009

Dear Readers,

We must start with a word of thanks to all our readers! In the very first month the response to the Architonic relaunch was an increase of 80% in visits!

In spite of shrinking resources and constantly increasing CO2 emissions, fossil raw materials are still some of the world's most important sources of energy and the basis for synthetic materials.
The Swiss designer Beat Karrer uses his stature as an internationally known product designer for the purpose of developing new applications for biologically degradable plastics with a number of materials producers and research institutes. Our Newsletter offers you some exciting insights into his work.

New: In our 'Architecture and Design' column we present selected architectural and design projects. You are invited to submit your own project and become part of our reference list of the very best.

Be inspired!

Your Architonic Team
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Molded Nature
Beat Karrer's work with bioplastics
    Molded Nature  
Low-tech generation of bioplastics in Beat Karrer's studio in Zurich

When half a century ago designers such as Verner Panton and Luigi Colani revolutionised people's living rooms with their brightly coloured plastic furniture it crossed nobody's mind that this wonder material that could be formed into any required shape would one day come to become a symbol of global rubbish and the ecological crisis.
However, there is hope: for years now international materials producers have been working on sustainable alternatives and they are now ready to launch biologically degradable plastics which can be used for a range of applications. The long-term aim is to create those everyday objects which nowadays consist of countless materials from as few components as possible in order to simplify recycling and accelerate the natural degradation process.

Bioplastic made of PLA granulate, at the Vitra Workshop in Boisbuchet

Just as with 'normal' plastics these bio-plastics also consist of countless chains of molecules, the polymers, which in turn are formed from a large quantity of basic components, the monomers. In contrast to synthetic polymers, which are produced from fossil raw materials, the term 'biopolymers' refers to the origin of the basic components for the polymers, which come from renewable resources. Biopolymers are composed of materials derived from living organisms - in other words plants, animals or bacteria. These can be starches from potatoes, wheat or maize, cellulose from vegetable cell walls or proteins such as silk, spider's webs or hair. The properties of the material are determined by the length and molecular structure of the chains. Depending on the manufacturing process and the formulation of the material they can be regulated and optimised by additives such as natural fibres. The variety of bio-plastics which have been tested is already impressive today.

Moulding pressed from PLA granulate

Creating the material is one thing but finding applications for it is another, because the cost-intensive development of new production materials is only justified by their use in series production. This is where the skills of product designers and manufacturers come in - above all those who are aiming at greater things.
One of these is the Swiss designer Beat Karrer, who together with the biochemist Michael Kangas experiments with new possibilities for processing biopolymers. The low-tech experiments in their Zurich witches' kitchen produced promising results and these were quickly built on by cooperations with a number of materials producers and a research institute.

Beat Karrer during the Vitra Workshop in Boisbuchet

"Because we don't have the necessary equipment we tend to limit ourselves to basic research and feasibility studies, as well as testing new areas of application. If an idea functions in our studio we contact a possible project partner, present the proof of concept and then discuss further steps [...] As designers we translate the application possibilities of the materials into products which can be marketed. Design is a language which everybody understands", explains Karrer.
Up 80% in a single month
Successful relaunch

We wish to thank our readers from all over the world: our relaunch seems to have been just what our users are looking for. With peak values of 20,000 visitors a day even our own wildest expectations have been exceeded. However, we don't intend to rest on our laurels and have already begun to develop new applications and topics so that we can support your creative work even more extensively. As a result this Newsletter, too, will appear in a revised form in the new year and feature an entirely new format.
In the new 'Architecture and Design' column Architonic presents selected architectural and design projects. Architects, designers and planners are welcome to submit their projects and become part of the Architonic reference list of the very best.

A look back at Neue Räume 09 Zurich
...and the Architonic Relaunch Party

'Neue Räume' has set itself the target of appealing to private customers as well as professional trade fair visitors such as architects, planners and specialist retailers. It deliberately refers to itself not as a trade fair but as a "Furnishings and furniture exhibition". Consumers often need to do a lot of research and drive hundreds of kilometres before they find the retailer who has exactly the piece of furniture they're looking for in his showroom. However, every two years 'Neue Räume' provides the opportunity for consumers to come into direct contact with design brands and their product range - a concept which seems to have been successful in the crisis year of 2009, too, with 'Neue Räume' reporting record visitor numbers of 26,000.
  A look back at Neue Räume 09 Zurich

This year it obviously wasn't easy to attract all the exhibitors needed, and some major brands stayed away. However, this created space for new products as well as greater diversity - and fortunately only rarely at the expense of quality. It is precisely this which will in future be decisive for the success of 'Neue Räume', which since its establishment in 2001 has always stood for strict selection criteria. Among all the many positive opinions, including those of the exhibitors, one criticism was unmistakable: 9 days are too long for this market.

The fabulous setting of the former turbine assembly halls provided us with the right location to celebrate our relaunch with a large party in the course of the 'Neue Räume' show. We were very happy that the party was attended by 800 international guests and wish to thank all those who celebrated with us!

New Architecture & Design Members
  New Architecture & Design Mambers  
Otto Bock Science Center medical technology by GNÄDINGER ARCHITEKTEN, photo by die photodesigner
the next ENTERprise - architects
Cloud Tower by the next ENTERprise - architects, photo by Lukas Schaller
Studio Norguet
Sofitel Lyon Bellecour by Studio Norguet, photo by Renaud Callebaut
Bearth & Deplazes Architekten
Neue Monte Rosa-Hütte by Bearth & Deplazes Architekten, photo by Tonatiuh Ambrosetti
More Articles from «News & Trends»
Material Vision 2009
  More Articles from «News & Trends»

Natural or high-tech materials: the new generation of innovative materials is multi-functional and characterised by tailor-made features and forms. A selection of these new materials for technology, design and architecture was on show at the Material Vision...
Beneath the Surface

Scandinavian design brings to mind Finns, Swedes and Danish names that could be as prominent in the history books as todays names are on rapidly updated online blogs and publications. But, what of Norwegian design and what about some names.
Charlotte Posenenske

Charlotte Poseneske is a German artist who created minimalist and performance-like sculptures and reliefs in the 60s. Having the claim to avoid any subjective artistic statements she preferred to finish her work in truly objective materials like chipboard, corrugated cardboard and steel sheets.

In the course of this year's Design Days in Geneva up-market dealer Teo Jakob Tagliabue invited guests to a very special exhibition at his showrooms. The elaborately staged show was designed and implemented by students from Geneva's University for Art and Design.