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Material Alchemy

A learning tool to enable academics, designers and students to actively engage and explore new future materials via interactive workshops. Featuring the most innovative, thought provoking design approaches to materials within the 21st century.
Jenny Lee
Article number: 9789063693763
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Enlisting the help of luminaries from the world of science, technology, and design showcases new responses to material innovation and provides key insights into how material will be utilised to shape our future environments.
Unlike existing publications that singularly examine and showcase materials from an industrial and technical standpoint for commercial application, this publication explores materials from a conceptual, historical and narrative point of view.

Exploring key topics such as synthetic biology, how designers and scientists are designing with living matter, utilising the laboratory as a means to cultivate and grow new materials. To technological innovations, how new technologies such as 3D printing are revolutionising the manufacturing industry. Showcasing the work by technologists and artisans, how these collaborative partnerships are evolving to redefine materiality in the 21st century.

The book not only provides new insights into how designers, scientists and artisans are exploring materiality, it also presents opportunities to physically engage with materials through the following chapters: ‘Low-Tech’, ‘High-Tech’, ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ and ‘The Laboratory’.
In addition to this, the publication features interactive content that merges the analogue with the digital. Using image recognition software to trigger hidden content in the form of animations that visually demonstrate how to carry out each workshop, or to transport you to the alchemist’s conceptual film to further explain the narrative of their research.

The use of materials within art, design and architecture is a dynamic and growing area of research. How we use and define a material no longer applies in the 21st century, a material is more than just a material to clothe and shelter us, our desire for intrinsic value and connectedness has driven the way for new interpretations of materiality, as opposed to merely applying materials for commercial applications.


Jenny Lee is a materiologist, researcher and founder of Studio Aikieu. After obtaining a first class honours degree in Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University, a course, that focuses on material innovation and craftsmanship, she then went on to study an MA in Textile Futures at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts, London, a course that places value on re-shaping our future environments through challenging perceptions, pushing innovation and hybrid design through the cross-fertilisation of multidisciplinary platforms. Since graduating Lee has exhibited her work widely, speaking at various prestigious events and delivering inspirational workshops that challenges the future of materials.

Lee continuously tracks key innovations, trends and cultural developments that will impact design thinking across all disciplines. Influenced by the principles of co- design, Lee forges collaborative partnerships with key industry players, as she believes to find creative solutions, involves working with individuals and organisations from different fields. She has worked in partnership with Scientists, Technologists and Engineers, which has facilitated the development of fresh, innovative insight through the fabrication of thought- provoking outputs.

Working across all areas within the creative and business industry, Jenny has a keen interest and knowledge within the fields of science, technology, social anthropology and craftsmanship. Previous organisations she has worked with include Holition, Leaders in Augmented Retail, NRP-UEA as part of the International Genetic Engineering Machine Matches Fashion in collaboration with Jotta and the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

The hybrid approach of her practice is grounded in aesthetic sensibilities and inherent codes of human design, which has inspired the cultivation of original ideas that makes tangible the most poignant of our social, ethical and environmental futures.


"The book introduces artists and designers to new materials, and shows materials scientists what is expected of them and how one must try to be a materials scientist and designer simultaneously."
- Materials Research Society

"Jenny Lee charts the innovations across many disciplines that all have had a hand in getting material technologies to where they are today."


"All of this and more and collated in this nifty, ready reckoner shortlisting the most revolutionary potential approaches for the next generation of materials - the book is arguably a must-have for Architects, Chefs, Fashion and Industrial designers or more importantly, just a reader with interest in matter - as for me I’m already waiting Material Alchemy 2."

"Rather than approaching the topic from a technological or industrial point of view, Lee explores material's intersection in the world of science, design and creative expression."


"In the western world, we live in an age that is defined by excess, where materials are taken for granted and fail to thrill or engage us in any way. Material Alchemy lifts the lid on the creativity that is bubbling away behind closed doors, where progress is being made in the most surprising and inspiring ways, from minute details to larger projects."
- Bucknall & Buss 


ISBN: 978 90 6369 376 3
Author: Jenny Lee
Format: hardcover
Dimensions: 25 x 20 cm
Pages: 152

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