Posted in biology, design and architecture, medical imaging

Neri Oxman: material ecology

Another Seed Magazine profile from the Revolutionary Minds series: Neri Oxman.

Oxman describes herself on her website as “an architect and researcher” currently based at MIT where she is working towards her PhD in Design and Computation. Her work “attempts to establish new forms of experimental design and novel processes of material practice at the interface of design, computer science, material engineering and ecology.”

As the Seed Magazine article says:

“Oxman finds inspiration in biology; the forms in her work often mimic those found in nature. She doesn’t believe biomimicry is a passing fad: ‘The biological world,’ she says, ‘is displacing the machine as a general model of design.'”

Her work is now on permanent display at the MoMA, including this example:

Oxman refers to this design as “Cartesian Wax” :

“[A] material designed to replicate the multiple functionalities of living tissue. It uses a combination of flexible and rigid resin to create a building “skin” that evokes living matter and responds to its local environment; its transparency level is modulated based on local heat and light conditions. The work was inspired by Descartes’s Wax Argument: Descartes argued that because we can identify wax as wax, even when its physical properties change in the presence of heat, we know our mind has an important role exceeding that of our limited senses.”

Even after reading her mission statements on both her blog and website, I can’t figure out exactly where the computation part comes in. Maybe you can figure it out. If you do, let me know. You can check out more of Oxman’s work at her website, or you can check out her blog (which she seems to update fairly frequently).



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

One thought on “Neri Oxman: material ecology

  1. Hey There. I discovered your weblog using msn. That is a really smartly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and come back to read extra of your useful information. Thank you for the post. I will certainly comeback.

Comments are closed.