Working Stiff
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Josh UrsoUrso: I got the initial idea for combining resin and fabric in college at

Carnegie Mellon, where I majored in product design. I was taking

a foundry class in the art department, casting aluminum and bronze. I used fabric as the mold, and the pieces would come out with the texture of the fabric. From that I got the idea to make a sculpture using fabric and some old resin that I found lying around. The resin makes the fabric hard by binding the fibers together and plasticizing them. It still looks like fabric, but it doesn’t behave like fabric anymore. I thought it was interesting how you could make fabric go against gravity and do things it normally wouldn’t do. It makes a fairly strong substance. We have tested our chairs to 300 pounds without a problem.

    Everything we do is the same concept of combining resin with different materials to create different products and different looks. I started off with the chairs and then went to tables. The lighting came about almost by accident. I was playing with different fabrics, including silk, which became almost glasslike when the resin was added to it. It wasn’t structural enough to make a piece of furniture, but it had a very nice look and diffused the light nicely. Combining fabric and resin enables me to create lights without a metal framework, so you get a “lighter” light fixture.
Miss Tutu.
Miss Tutu.

    For example, Miss Tutu is made out of three pieces, sort of like orange sections, with flanges that are joined together to make a sphere. We mold white mesh with epoxy resin, which enables the mesh to stand on its own, so you don’t need a steel structure inside. It keeps it very light and airy-looking because you don’t have the hard shadows from the steel. Depending on the size of the light fixture, it takes anywhere from two to six bulbs, which are on these arms that twist and flow within the structure.

    Antfarm is made from a rope called Technora, which is five times stronger than steel and used primarily by the military. Each pod is individually lit with LEDs. It is meant for wall and ceiling installations.


    The Puff light, which looks like puffs of fabric coming out of a sphere, is made from an upholstery-grade fabric that looks like a sport fabric. The underlying fabric is one color, and the top layer is a little different, which gives it a nice two-tone effect. It really transforms when the light is turned on.

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