Automobile Objects
Automobile Objects

Automobile Objects

Experts: Peter Fratzl (Material Science), Charlotte Klonk (Art and Visual Studies), Nils Krüger (Product Design), Antonio Lazcano (Biology)

Participants: Khashayar Razghandi (Biomimetic and bio-inspired Science and Engineering), Sébastien Turcaud (Engineering, Material and Structural Mechanics), Alexander Warth (Design), Ulises Iturbe (Biology) 


Some natural materials are able to transform specific changes in their surrounding directly into movement (eg. changes in ambient temperature or air humidity). For instance, pinecones open or close according to changes in air humidity or wheat grains crawl and even dig into the ground.


Research Problems & Questions

It is obvious, that current mobility solutions do no even come close to solving nowadays’ mobility problems and challenges. For example, new answers to resource scarcity are still not commonplace. However, how should we meet these challenges? How can automobile objects change our perspectives? What can we learn from autonomous and efficient forms of mobility? And how could so-called automobile materials and objects contribute to solutions of future urban mobility scenarios?


Impulse lectures from experts at Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Golm/Potsdam supported the discussions of the participants and offered them insight into current top research on the topic. Automobile objects were presented and, thus, ideas for creative interventions developed.


Research Process and Results

Some artificial materials already use nature’s evolutionary solutions as a model: surface coatings of aircrafts, for example, imitate the attributes of a shark’s skin, which makes them self-cleaning. The research team took natural materials as archetypes to rethink the autonomy of movements and come up with possibilities for animating inanimate objects. At the same time, this interdisciplinary team not only focused on efficiency in movement but also on the interplay between efficiency and aesthetics. After all, the motility of animals also serves biological functions apart from merely allowing movement. In this way the future intelligent use of self-adjusting materials and objects could replace some movements made and caused by human beings today.

Alongside the phenomenon of the pinecone, this research team developed the concept of an automobile object, which intervenes in an artistic way and protects from rain at the same time. The oversize umbrella opens and closes its leafs according to the local weather situation; its material adapts to air humidity and unfolds like a flower. In case of rain it offers shelter for people in public parks and in case of sun, it folds again. This artistic and practical intervention triggers spontaneous get-togethers and provokes unexpected communication in the moment it safes passersby from sudden rain. Automobile objects embody several ways of movement: they set themselves in motion and potentially make us move.