Ever more efficient and effortless, technology is opening up exciting new horizons in finishings. Smart textiles go beyond decoration to provide additional functionality and experiential qualities. Enhanced ceramics, plastics and solid surfaces are embedded with invisible, environment-enhancing properties. Self-cleaning and pollution-reducing coatings are seamlessly integrated into everyday surfaces while wirelessly charged surfaces power smartphones and tablets. Although some are still in the early stages of development, these new surfaces offer a glimpse into a clutter-free future where technology is inherent in our architecture.
1. Made from a 3D-knitted polyester textile normally used in technical applications and inspired by microscopic organisms, the Radiolaria lamps by Bernotat & Co are sewn together using a material that glows in the dark. By day the lamps appear like paper lanterns, light and airy and white in color but in darkness turn a luminous shade of green like deep-sea creatures. Hung from porcelain fittings and a silver-colored cable the lamps are made using only 3D-knitted polyester and require no additional structural support.
2. DuPont™ Corian® are working in collaboration with the Power Matters Alliance to embed wireless charging technology into its line of synthetic granite countertops. Making plugs and cables a thing of the past, gadgets such as smartphones and tablets are charged by simply being placed on the surface. At Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair earlier this year, Corian showcased a variety of possibilities for the technology from wirelessly charged kitchen counters and bedside tables to office desks.
3. Crossville recently introduced an invisible self-cleaning and antibacterial coating across their tile product offering. Called HYDROTCT®, the environment-enhancing coating was developed by plumbing brand TOTO and is suitable for use both indoors and out. Made using a combination of titanium dioxide and a formula of noble metals, HYDROTCT®’s self-cleaning, pollution-mitigation and antibacterial properties are activated by sunlight. Because the coating kills 99.9% of four main bacteria strain, it drastically reduces the need for cleaning detergents and water.
4. Stockholm- and Paris-based design studio Tomorrow Machine and Research Company Innventia have developed a series of self-cleaning plates and cups made entirely out of cellulose. The protoypes have been made in response to a brief set by the Swedish forest industries federation that asked the designers to come up with uses for renewable cellulose harvested from Swedish forests in the year 2035. Called Ekoportal 2035, the biodegradable bowl and dish are equipped with a superhydrofobic coating that, like a lotus leaf, rejects fluids and dirt therefore eradicating the need for washing up.
5. Bringing science-fiction fantasy to reality, the Luminous carpet by Philips and Desso combines robust LED lighting with light transmissive fibres. Perfect for use as signage in offices and public spaces, a lighting unit is placed under the luminous carpet and can be controlled via a programmed app to create text and patterns. The lights can be used to help intuitively guide people through a building or to create a particular ambience at the touch of a button.