The conference

Materials by Design

The biological material structures across nano, micro, meso and macroscales have been always a source of inspiration to engineers and designers. With 3D printing and other advanced digital manufacturing techniques, designers are able to approximate nature’s process of shaping things at micrometer scale. This bottom-up process blurs the boundary between a product and a material, where the function of a product can be specified by material design rather than assembly. In this talk, Jifei Ou wishes to share some of his research works at the Media Lab that takes the advantage of high resolution 3D printer to produce a series of material like hair, foam and hinges, with sensing and actuation capabilities. He would also like to share some feedback from design’s perspective on the current limitation of software and hardware for 3D printing, and how designers can play a role of collaborator, instead of end user, in a future manufacturing.


Learn more about

Jifei Ou

Jifei Ou (欧冀飞) is a designer, researcher and PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab, where he focuses on designing and fabricating transformable materials across scales (from μm to m). Physical materials are usually considered as static, passive, and permanent. Jifei is interested in finding ways to redesign physical materials with the characteristics of digital information, such as the ability to change shape and and to be programmable. Such new materials could be used to construct a responsive living environment, accelerate the process of design and manufacturing, and enhance our existing interaction with products. As much as his work is informed by digital technology, he is inspired in equal measure by the natural world around him. He has been leading projects that study bio-mimicry and bio-derived materials to design shape-changing packaging, garments and furniture.

An adventurer at heart, Jifei was born and raised in southwest China and has brought his design practice and scientific research to Asia, Europe and the U.S. His works have been published in academic conferences such as User Interface Software and Technology, Tangible Embodied and Embedded Interaction and Computer-Human Interaction; interviewed and featured in publications such as Forbes, Discovery and Science Friday; awarded by design competitions such as A’ Design Award (2016, 2017), IXDA award (2016), CORE77 design award (2015), iF design award (2015), etc. He has been organizing workshops on shape-shifting materials with researchers, high school students and artists around the world. He is also deeply involved in the manufacturing community in Shenzhen in order to facilitate the real world application of his research.