The future is… comfy

May 1, 2018

In the 1980s science fiction hit “Back to the Future,” Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels through time wearing a pair of high-flying, self-lacing Nike Air Mags. In real life, Nike produced 89 pairs of the techno sneakers in 2016 to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to the tune of $6.5 …

Insulating fabric, or polar bear pelt?

Polar bears have a thick pelt that keeps them warm in the arctic environment even when temperatures average -40°F during the winter months. Scientists at China’s Zhejiang University College of Chemical and Biological Engineering studied the microstructure and thermal insulation qualities of the polar bear’s coat and have developed a fiber that mimics it. The …

The cycles of time, sculpted in fiber

Madrid’s historic Plaza Mayor, a popular gathering place and tourist destination, celebrated its 400th anniversary in February 2018. In honor of the occasion, the city of Madrid, Spain, commissioned an original sculpture by American artist Janet Echelman. Known for colorful large-scale fiber sculptures, Echelman created an installation—1.78 Madrid—that explored the cycles of time. It was …

Patient-friendly hospital gowns

With advancements in modern medicine, the one thing that has remained the same for decades is the awkward, open-back hospital gown. The company Care+Wear, founded in 2014 to design fashionable and functional clothing and accessories for people undergoing medical treatment, decided it was time for a makeover. The team worked with students from Parsons School …

MIT develops new technique for ultrafine fibers

April 1, 2018

They may be ultrafine, but fibers produced using a new process developed by researchers at MIT are strong and tough enough for use in applications including protective armor and nanocomposites. The process, known as gel electrospinning, is a variation of the traditional method of gel spinning, but with electrical forces. It creates ultrafine polyethylene fibers …

Carbon fiber Humanity Star takes to the skies

Scientist and engineer Peter Beck is on a mission to make commercial space travel a reality. He founded Rocket Lab in 2006 to provide frequent launch opportunities to low earth orbit. Beck also wanted to create a way to connect people to the night sky, to bring people together. He hopes to demonstrate that we …

U.S. Olympic team sports self-heating jackets

When Team USA entered the stadium to the tune “Gangnam Style” during the 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea, they didn’t have to give a second thought to the frigid temps. The record-number 242 athletes were certain to stay warm and cozy with jackets outfitted with a special heating component. Designed by …

Lilienthalhaus building uses ETFE roof for natural light

Lilienthalhaus, a new building at the Braunschweig Research Airport in Braunschweig, Germany, is named after pioneer aviator Otto Lilienthal. Known as the “flying man,” Lilienthal was the first person to successfully carry out unpowered flights. The designation is fitting; the design of the four-story building embodies the same inventive spirit as the adventurous pilot. Designed …

Fabric art, sculptured and painted

Carriageworks, the largest contemporary multi-arts center of its kind in Australia, is a space that welcomes socially and culturally diverse artists whose vision is often exhilarating and cutting edge. Housed in an old rail yard in the Redfern area of Sydney, the center features a distinctive 19th century industrial aesthetic. The former railway carriage and …

Fabric defines Mosque of the Light in Dubai

A newly constructed mosque in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, makes unique use of fabric to create a tranquil setting aglow with filtered light. Mosque of the Light features a spacious, spare design that also relies on fabric to divide and organize the space. Designed by the Dubai-based architecture firm, Studio Niko Kapa, the 4,800-square-meter building …