An Amazing Feat

Schermata 2015-06-04 alle 09.00.15

Among all the tragedies we hear about daily, there is one piece of news we should all be really excited about. A solar plane trying to circumnavigate the globe. The Solar Impulse looks a little like an insect with the longest wings ever: 72 meters to carry just 2,300 Kg (the weight of a car) and just one passenger. On the wings 17,000 solar cells supply four electric motors with renewable energy, day and night. The driving force (and pilots!) of this amazing Leonardesque machine are Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg.

The aim is of course to demonstrate that clean technologies and renewable energies are sustainable and realistic solutions for this century, but for me this incredible project demonstrates much more. It shows the very best of human nature: pioneering spirit, courage, curiosity, and the constant desire to push the limits in order to find better ways of living on our planet.

The Round-The-World flight started from Abu Dhabi, on March 9. The Solar Impulse is currently waiting better weather conditions in Nagoya, Japan. You can follow the trip here.

Image (c) Solar Impulse/Jean Revillard

New Materials at Selected

I have always enjoyed looking at exhibitions at my own pace and working things out on my own. Lately though I have been part of several private guided tours and I cannot work out if it is a new trend catering to a demand in the market or if I am just getting old!

This week Alexa Holzer showed me around Selected, the exhibition she curated for Designmonat Graz. It is a truly panoramic array of young(ish) and talented designers. So many new names, hard to remeber all the projects and even harder to choose a favourite. I think the most interesting aspect has to be the new uses of materials. Cork and leather are on the rise while moss and birch bark are being experimented with. The most spectacular use of material though has to be the work of Austrian designer Martin Lesjak. He has managed to cut a stone sheet so thinly that it can be rolled like paper. And with it he has made a lamp with simple forms but an exceptional texture! 

Ceramics for the Engineer

You say ceramic and I think of hand turned vases, patterned tiles and painted plates. But oh no! It seems the new innovative use of ceramics in the house is going to be under the roof. Let me explain. 

The Technical University of Graz has been researching  load-bearing modules made of clay. And they seem to be on to something. I don’t know if they can yet build a dome as large as the Pantheon (which by the way was the largest dome ever built until 1881), but the shapes they have come up with are for sure great design!