This Woman Will Make Our Walls Breathe

Illustration for article titled This Woman Will Make Our Walls Breathe

Every single day we oooh and aahhh over the latest design concepts, but right now, let's focus on one of the minds behind such designs and smile in awe of her motivations and inspirations. Meet MIT designer, Neri Oxman.


Oxman went through medical school, but abandoned that career path for a "mishmash of design, architecture, art, and computer programming."

She works out of MIT's media lab and strives to bring about her vision of the future which consists of all objects living, breathing, and adapting as we interact with them. She imagines organic architecture designs, nanotube walls which change size, chairs that change shape as you sit, DNA-encoded clothing that grows with you. She explains that studying how human bones adjust, getting thicker when a woman is pregnant or thinner when individuals are in outer space, inspired that vision of hers.


As with many other designs that we see, Oxman's are stunning in their intricate plays with textures and materials, but to me the dreamy vision that pushes her to create them adds so much more to the way I view her works. I expect them to draw breath. Maybe we should start taking closer looks at the minds behind the eye-candy we so enjoy. Are there any objects, maybe even gadgets, that truly made you want to know how they were inspired? [Materialecology Blog via Materialecology via Esquire]

Top photo by Tom Allen

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Poop Cooper

I must admit that while I find her philosophical approach to her designs intriguing, I cannot say the same for the designs themselves.

I see magnificent use of texture and craftsmanship, but what I'm looking at here is art - very pretty art - but nothing functional.

If these pieces were created in order to help communicate or evoke an emotion, feeling, or thought, I think that they can and do that on several levels. However, if the goal of these pieces is to be functional, to aid us in our day-to-day life, I'm afraid that judging them solely on the aesthetic presented they either fail or I simply don't understand (which maybe I don't and need more evidence of the genius I am overlooking, but I can only work with what's available.)

If Oxman is indeed showing us designs for furniture or clothing in this gallery (after reading the source, apparently she is) then my criticism of the pieces is that she may have put her philosophy before the functionality of the item. A chair ultimately still has to work as a chair, still has to be able to be identified as a chair and still has to be commonly accepted as a chair. If it cannot achieve those things, then what you have is something that only represents a chair, and while that something can be beautiful, it isn't the goal of the exercise.

I look at the first photo in the gallery and try to imagine relaxing on it's subject after a long day of work, and simply cannot. The reason that I find this disconcerting is because Oxman tells us that the photo is of a chaise lounge.

Her philosophy is that these pieces will adapt and grow with us over time, but what I see is something that I am forced to adapt to instead, and to be honest, I work hard enough as it is to not be challenged when I want to take a seat.

I find the article itself intriguing though and definitely express interest in seeing more profiles on the minds behind innovation, but I felt that someone had to be Mr. Unpopular and critically examine the work of this beautiful woman. I think she's on the right track and incredibly talented, but creating products that are inaccessible isn't going to change the world. #nerioxman