“Ways of Seeing” by John Berger opens up with statement that “it is seeing, which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it.”
In reflection to this observation, in today’s Material Monday, we discuss spatial bewilderments achieved through the use of metal mesh. These refer to the feeling of astonishment that grows and fuels the visual perception of structure, which at moments is challenging to portray through words. Let’s start by few words about the material and it’s opportunities.
Metal mesh originally found its application in armoury ensuring safety of knights and soldiers. Gradually its functionality migrated towards creative and construction industries. Nowadays, it’s widely used across fields of fashion, interior, architecture, electronics and art amongst others.
This semi transparent surface is produced on a special wire weaving machines. The range of materials used for metal meshes extends from non-alloyed steel to non-ferrous metal such as copper, bronze, brass, nickel, nickel-based alloys and high-alloy stainless steels through to titanium and precious metals.
Its creative and tactile versatility extends across a range of weaves and knits, combination of interlocked shapes, material grades, inherent colours, weave tightness / pore sizes, flexibility, impressed textures, thread lengths and breadths. Some of the modern meshes can also incorporate LEDs, which result in an interactive and sensitively mediatised surfaces. In addition, metal mesh can also be coated, painted, blasted, anodised and printed.
In the field of architecture, metal mesh is mainly incorporated as a functional feature of the facades. Securing interiors from heat and sunlight, these surfaces are used in geometrical alignments as on the example of Fifa’s headquarters or are draped around building as organic and fluid fabrics as per Sunac’s head office design.
The artist of Absent Matter, Edoardo Tresoldi, is an Italian sculptor whose inspiration and fondness of metal mesh lead him to designing a myriad of creative structures using the material. Etherea, latest project of his, was commissioned by Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and exhibited during recent edition in California. In this design, Tresoldi explored intangible and the ephemeral sensuality of space by setting Renaissance elements against incredible optical effects of Californian skies.
Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic have too been creatively driven by the exciting semi-transparency of metal mesh. Their choice of scene to engage the sense of sight was rather extraordinary. Setting their installation titled ‘Quintessenz’ in the Ancient Greek Ruins on the island of Paxos, they cleverly manipulated surface finishes to create suspended layers of colourful pixels.
Translucent spectrum of hues is achieved by consistent geometric shapes, which are suspended in grids and rows. Such layout provides spectator with varying visual experiences that depends on the viewing angle. Faced from front, the porous mesh seems to blur and merge into soft gradients that stand in contrast to aged greyness of ruins. When viewed from the side, the installation appears as modernist paining that floats on air, while challenging the viewer’s perception of the space.
In reflection on Berger’s quote, description versus physical experience of presented case studies will hardly create the same sensorial outcome. All above illustrated examples ‘sight excite’ as they play with transparency of light and shadow using a tactile material to visually surprise through the creation of original perceptions. Transcending pre-defined linear and dimensional structures, these concepts build a dialogue between solid and elusive experiences of matter. They are an aesthetic statement that tangibly pushes the boundaries of fade-out physicality of surroundings by mixing classical values with contemporary aspirations of arts.
If you are interested to find out about other exciting opportunities for designing for sense of sight with colours, materials and finishes in mind, or you would like to book one of our London Design Festival 2018 workshops, please feel free to get in touch.
Below: Inspirational Metal Mesh Surfaces
Case Study 1: Metal Mesh in Aoe for Sunac’s Headquaters (below)
Case Study 2: Architectural Sculpture at Coachella California 2018 Colorado Desert – ‘Etherea’ by Edoardo Tresoldi
Case Study 3: Coloured Metal Mesh in Ancient Greek Ruins by Thomas Granseuer and Tomislav Topic
Below: Metal Mesh in Fashion (Designed by Fannie Schiavoni)
Below: Metal Mesh in Products
Below: Metal Mesh LED Facades
Below: Metal Mesh in Architecture and Interiors including Fifa’s HQ facade