Good design solves practical problems with aesthetic conviction. But can good design be compounded by other disciplines? We believe so. A simple example is how a well-crafted tagline is compounded by precise messages and effective storytelling. Another where our developers use pure mathematics to build elegant visual solutions. In fact we’ll take a brilliant concept from any discipline and apply it to design.

Neri Oxman is a designer, architect, and professor of architecture at MIT Media Lab

Neri Oxman is a professor of architecture at MIT Media Lab. She works with designers, scientists, architects and artists in MIT’s model which is to create solutions to problems that don’t yet exist and cataclysmic issues such as sustainability and environment.

Oxman’s cross-disciplinary theory is one of entanglement “Krebs establishes a tentative, yet holistic, cartography of the interrelation between these domains, where one realm can incite (r)evolution inside another; and where a single individual or project can reside in multiple dominions.”

The application of this was seen last April with Aguahoja I, the MIT sculptural pavilion; a 3-metre-high cocoon made with dissolvable panels. Less than 10 percent of the billions of tons of plastic ever produced has been recycled, with much of it ending up in the Earth’s oceans disrupting ecosystems. Oxman’s team devised new materials that go “from water to water.” Panels, comprising a top layer of chitosan and cellulose with a bottom layer of apple pectin and chitosan, were 3D-printed in various compositions to give different possibilities for load bearing, stretch etc. The substances are derived from cellulose, chitosan, and pectin, some of the most abundant biopolymers on earth.

Oxman’s essay The Age of Entanglement can be read on MIT’s Journal of Design & Science.

Observation Conversation: How do you problem solve? Who observes your work? Do you have a methodology when you’re blocked? Does it involve sharing, writing or something else entirely? We’re inviting women who love problem-solving from science, arts, design, finance, engineering, philosophy and mathematics backgrounds for an evening of collaborative conversation and drinks. Get in touch for the March session with