What follows is a slightly different edit of my article for Artek’s new magazine, 'Annex', as part of their science and technology-themed issue. It explores some of the possibilities in and around advanced material research, based on a conversation between researcher Olli Ikkala, Artek design director Ville Kokkonen, and me, at Aalto University’s “Nanotalo” (nano-house).
Along the way it explores building at the molecular scale, how cellulose might resource tomorrow’s fast fashion and slow buildings; leaps from Lilliput to Finland; links electron microscopes to Thackara’s macroscopes; remains ambivalent about whether we really are on the brink of a the new industrial revolution or about to take another unsustainable misstep: connects MIT’s Building 20 and Aalto to reinforce the value of garages; sets up a prizefight of poetic qualities between Italo Calvino, Juhani Pallasmaa and biomimicry; and sketches out how research into organic polymers might inadvertently reveal a future of creative practices …
Suffice to say, it was not easy to write this article in a way that might engage a broad audience, whilst retaining the essence of these big issues about small things. I take my hat off to writers like Steven Johnson or David Brooks who do such a thing for a living. For some years now, I’ve tried to use this site to explore a kind of communicable, almost conversational writing about (sometimes) complex matters—it’s far too easy to hide behind obfuscation, after all—but this was a particular challenge.
As ever, I’d be interested in your thoughts: Twitter, Facebook, or even the neglected old comments box below. The 'Annex' piece is accompanied by proper photos from proper photographer Tuomas Uusheimo; the ones below are mine (full set is here.)
You should know that this is known in the trade as one of those #longreads