“Focus of Mikro/Makrokosmos are the Radiolaria, a series of 11 lamps made of 3D-knitted textile with glow-in-the-dark effect, inspired by microscopic organisms and the phenomenon of bioluminescence. They’re presented in a spatial installation with film. When the light is switched off, the Radiolaria leave a mysterious green afterglow. Each lamp has a different shape, but they’re all equally rotund and strangely scaleless. Are they bacteria? Plancton? Plant seeds? Or maybe planets?
The Radiolaria are made from woven and knitted 3D spacer fabrics, which are normally hidden inside products and not used for optical purposes. The glow-in-the-dark effect – similar to the effect which everybody knows from kids’ stickers and toys – has been integrated into this technical textile. Thanks to the stiffness of the material and its 3D-structure, the soft lamps have natural volume and don’t require additional reinforcement. The force of gravity influences their final shape, making them charmingly imperfect.
The pattern of each Radiolaria lamp is composed of platonic solids, as geometry lies at the basis of many natural forms. Main source of inspiration was the work of German zoologist and philosopher Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), who published over 100 detailed illustrations of animals and sea creatures in his book Kunstformen der Natur (‘Art Forms of Nature’) in 1904. The overriding themes of the Kunstformen plates are symmetry and organization in nature. Among the notable prints are many radiolarians – unicellular organisms that produce intricate mineral skeletons –, which Haeckel helped to popularize among amateur microscopists.
Just like Haeckel’s drawings, the Radiolaria combine the aesthetics of mathematics and nature. When the light is switched on, they are transformed into translucent white particles, floating in space. But the real surprise effect comes when the light is switched off again: in the dark, their delicate outlines suddenly light up. The segments of each lamp are sown together with glowin-the-dark material integrated in the seems, turning them into ephemeral poetic spectres, remotely resembling bioluminescent organisms. This effect makes them perfect for use in e.g. bedrooms, children’s rooms, conference rooms, cinemas or theaters.
The Radiolaria collection consists of 11 lamps with diameters ranging from 30 to 80 centimeters. All lamps are provided with porcelain fittings and a silver-coloured cable. Some models have variants: the Tentaculus lamp exists in a small and a big version (Tentaculus minimus and Tentaculus giganticus), and the Discomedusa lamp is either round (Discomedusa infans) or elongated (Discomedusa adulta). Metamorphosus lucidus can be turned inside out, creating a quite a different shape and a totally different glow-in-the-dark effect.
Part of the Mikro/Makrokosmos show is also the Cellular Loop chair – the very first 3D-printed cantilever chair, which Anke Bernotat developed at Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen. Similar to the Radiolaria, it takes inspiration from nature: Its eyecatching cell structure and seamless, endless ribbon shape are based on the inner structure of natural materials, such as the micro-supports in the wing bones of colibris, the strings inside banana leaf stems and the wound healing methods of trees. Rapid Manufacturing made it possible to produce the chair in the complex shape of an endless, self-penetrating ribbon.” Photos: Marleen Sleeuwits, Ilco Kemmere. bernotat.eu