Authors : I-Ting Tsai, Somdatta Majumdar, Xixi Zheng and Yun Yiru

University : Bartlett School of Architecture

Status : MArch, 2015

Advisors : Daniel Widrig, Soomeen Hahm, Stefan Bassing

Title : FaBrick | Rethinking Fabric In Design

The project FaBrick was undertaken by students from the Bartlett School of Architecture students I-Ting Tsai, Somdatta Majumdar, Xixi Zheng and Yiru Yun under the tutorship of Daniel Widrig, Stefan Bassing and Soomeen Hahm, who encourage students to create an unique crafting technique inspired by computation designs.

Fabrick is a project to create complex three dimensional forms from a flat sheet, using the traditional art of stitching. This felt composite creates structurally strong, intricate fluid shapes without the help of any mold or formwork which other materials like fiberglass need.The fabric is hard as stone in some places and soft in some parts, which is quite a unique feature which most materials don’t offer. The overall texture feels like felt which is soft and warm. The hardening material had to be very light to not deform the fabric with its weight. After lots of permutation and combination of applying hardening materials to the fabric and checking different ratios of mixtures we came up with a particular ratio of some resins.

Fabric in architecture and furniture has long existed since the beginning, but inventing a composite which makes the fabric the main material is unique.

A digital technique was developed showing the stitching of fabric on computer. With some of those digital design experiments as inspiration, the form of the chair was designed. The chair design is created by the same process of machine cutting the felt and letting the fabric stand on its own after which the composite is hardened. The fabric itself becomes the legs, seat and backrest, being the sole material used in design.

The wall, window becoming the chair was created to show the potential of the design invention which allows a transition from a surface to a 3D object. Seamless designs are rare due to material size restriction but like the wall made of many components, it can create larger spaces with no visual seams.

The project was exhibited in the Bartlett B-Pro show and won the Silver Award as well as Sir Peter Cook Award.

Interview

S//A : What’s the most important aspect of this project that we should be aware of?
The new composite opens up endless possibilities of using fabric created organic forms in different aspects of design. With this technique, fabric can transform from a 2D sheet to any 3D creation. It also shows how one material can play different roles of hard structural part and soft design elements. To create organic forms, one always needs molds like in fiberglass. With this design material and process we no more need to waste time and energy in making molds.

S//A : What other fields outside of architecture interest you?
As Mies van der Rohe said “A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier”, a piece of furniture is what excited the team. A chair design needs to be functional, structural and beautiful just as in architecture and thus we decided to test this by designing the Fabrick chair.

S//A : Most important thing you learned in architecture school?
The tutors, Daniel Widrig, Soomeen Hahm and Stefan Bassing pushed us to be innovative and experiment with materials and techniques that were never used before. Thus taking an off the shelf material like fabric with has existed from thousands of years, we invented hardened structural fabric and gave fabric construction another possibility.

S//A : Describe your dream project
Our dream project would be to create a pavilion or architectural installation with this method and to show the world how parametric forms can easily be created by this technique of mold-less fabric construction.