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Shimmering Wood by Structural Colour Studio

Nature’s brightest colours – like those found in peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are created through microscopically small nanostructures.
Wood-based structural shimmering wood colour has no colour pigments. Photo: Valeria Azovskaya
Photo: Valeria Azovskaya

Nature’s brightest colours – like those found in peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are created through microscopically small structures. When light hits these structures, our eyes perceive intense and vivid colours. Unlike traditional pigments or dyes, this colour arises only from the physical structure of the material, without the need for chemical compounds. 

Wood is usually associated with shades of brown, grey and green, humble colours that feel down to earth. Here, we are changing this narrative by turning wood into iridescent colours.

The colour presented here is nontoxic and produced 100% from wood in an economically viable process.  Shiny or glittery effects – very popular in fashion and design today – are usually created using toxic pigments, plastic-based materials or metallic foils. This structural colour presents a sustainable alternative to these traditional colourants. Also, unlike most existing dyes, structural colour does not fade in sunlight. 

    The Structural Colour Studio is a platform for collaborative projects between design and materials science in the field of bio-based structural colour. The key members of the platform are designer Noora Yau and materials scientist Konrad Klockars. Together, using methods from both disciplines, they develop wood-based structural colour and explore its potential in real-life design applications, such as architecture and furniture. This exhibition showcases the possibilities of the colourant in a material collection of samples and prototypes. It demonstrates the technical properties as well as the sensorial experiences this nanocellulose-based structural colour can provide. 

    The team:

    • Doctoral Candidate Noora Yau, Department of Design in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture
    • Doctoral Candidate Konrad Klockars, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems in the School of Chemical Engineering
    • Dr Blaise Tardy, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems in the School of Chemical Engineering
    • Professor Orlando Rojas, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems in the School of Chemical Engineering
    Shimmering Wood-based Structural Colour by Noora Yau. Photo Eeva Suorlahti

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