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Intermedia installation for the opening of the PASSAGEN Design Forum in Cologne.

Oval shells made from Bayer MaterialScience materials provide visions for the interior design of the future.

Friday - January 13, 2006, Leverkusen – PASSAGEN, the largest design event in Germany, opens on January 16, 2006 and will provide a forum for current design, living and lifestyle trends and directions. During a week dedicated to design, the city of Cologne will play host to over 100 shows by international designers and manufacturers and numerous other events, once again turning the city into a design Mecca. The design event coincides with the start of the international furniture fair, IMM, at the Cologne Exhibition Center. To mark the opening of PASSAGEN, Realtime Research, a group of Cologne-based performers and artists headed by trumpeter Matthias Mainz, have come up with the interactive installation “Einsein”. This will be on display at the Museum of Applied Arts from January 16 to February 19, 2006 and will transform the museum’s main hall, using three-dimensional objects, assorted sounds and visual sequences in a “sculptural organism of speech, space and sound”.

The installation centers on oval shells suspended at shoulder height. They are made up of two parts, incorporating speakers, sensors and LCD displays on the inside, and are connected via a network of computers. The shells were made by Prisma Tech Consulting GmbH in Neu-Ulm, Germany, using the Bayer MaterialScience polyurethane spray system Multitec® Short Fiber Spraying. The material can be sprayed into open or closed molds and offers virtually unlimited design freedom. Thanks to added glass fibers, the material used here is also very rigid.

But the oval shells have more than just a futuristic design to recommend them – they are also highly functional and interactive. “If you pop your head into a shell from below, this reveals an enclosed interior in which sounds and images can be experienced as if through windows onto worlds outside the objects,” says Matthias Mainz. “The sensors allow you to personally influence what happens through the movements you make, and to change the audiovisual landscape. The mere flap of a butterfly’s wings would be enough to have a lasting effect on the system.”

The hollow bodies also represent a pair of opposites – namely “openness” and “seclusion”. Once inside the shells, you communicate with the outside world through various channels but at the same time withdraw into a private domain that you are the only one to inhabit at that particular point, shaped in a way that instills a feeling of security. This is fostered by a flexible polyurethane foam which is applied to the inner surface. The outer surface of the shells is coated with a polyurethane paint based on Bayer MaterialScience coating raw materials.

From visions to products

“For me, creating this amorphous architecture is much more than just another way of demonstrating the impressive design freedom offered by our materials”, says Eckard Foltin, head of the Creative Center in Bayer MaterialScience’s New Business segment. He and his team concentrate on identifying the megatrends of the future as early as possible. In order to achieve this, the Creative Center’s innovation managers work closely with customers’ creative teams, but also with designers, futurologists, universities and institutes. Scenarios created in joint workshops offer a visionary view of future developments and ultimately indicate possible future applications for high-quality Bayer MaterialScience plastics, some of which will be specially developed for these purposes.

The current project “Future Construction 2025” is the result of a study of the future looking at life, living and working in the year 2020. It focuses on the applications that can be realized over the next 20 years using new technologies to meet customer needs.

“In this context, the Einsein shells represent a kind of prototype for us because the ideas that went into them can be developed in many different ways,” says Foltin. For example, the hollow bodies have also been converted into comfortable furniture with a rocking-stool action. The seat shells are made from a viscoelastic polyurethane foam based on Bayer MaterialScience products. The addition of innovative covering materials could give the seat shells a completely different feel – whether in the home, in meeting rooms or in waiting areas at airports.

The Creative Center’s Dr. Meike Niesten is responsible for setting up a network of designers for the initial development phase of future applications. She too believes that the “multipurpose hoods” are just the start of a process of developing new ideas, for example height-adjustable communication zones in which the user can ensure his privacy in the direct vicinity of a busy pedestrian mall, or even in an open-plan office. Niesten and Foltin predict that the exhibition will provide designers with food for thought. “The possibilities are virtually limitless. They simply need to be discovered and developed with the right partners,” observes Eckard Foltin.

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