arielle blonder + shira shoval's art piece explores nanocellulose at the eretz israel museum

arielle blonder + shira shoval's art piece explores nanocellulose at the eretz israel museum

‘fleeting’ is a series of over one hundred crafted butterflies, showcased as a meticulously arranged zoological collection, or a display of precious jewelry. the delicate butterfly-shaped objects, of lacy texture and metallic iridescent colors, are pinned and marked methodically in a collectors’ box. it is an art piece of creative material exploration, taking place at the scientist’s lab. the work is currently on show as part of the israeli paper exhibition ‘on the edge’, taken place at the muza eretz israel museum in tel-aviv until october 31, 2017.

segment of fleeting 1200 x 450 mm, a parametric array of 122 butterflies arranged by ascending energy levels
image by leonid padrul



the collaborating duo of arielle blonder and shira shoval, architect and textile designer, meets the chemist dr. tiffany abitbol, to explore the magic of nanocellulose. nanocellulose or ncc is a biopolymer of nanometric size, enhancing nature’s extraordinary properties of cellulose. found in paper and textile waste, cellulose is the most abundant fiber on earth, being the main component of the plants’ cell wall. its high strength, flexibility and resilience make it an attractive resource for various industries and applications.

paper waste becomes precious: nanocellulose



isolated from cellulose in a lab process, the resulting colorless liquid of varying viscosity presents attributes such as excellent mechanical, electrical and optical properties. some types of ncc can be cast, making a thin film-like membrane that exhibits birefringence, the variable refraction of light depending on light polarization that results in a vibrant iridescent color. this phenomenon is the underlying principle of the beauty of iridescence found in surfaces of natural organisms such as butterfly and beetle wings or mother of pearl.

a meticulously arranged zoological collection, or a display of precious jewelry



‘fleeting’ takes the butterfly as a means of exploration and representation of the optical effect, and the ability to control its coloration parametrically. through careful variation of ultrasonic energy in the material fabrication process, the appearance of the colorless liquid varies gradually. shifting from cold, blueish-silvery colors to warm orange-red golden shiny surfaces, its material resembles precious minerals rather than paper. this work sets the starting point for future exploration of the interfaces between biodesign, parametric design and new materiality.

from lab to studio; ariel blonder and shira shoval assembling the butterflies into the finished composition

process: making the material at the lab, in collaboration with dr. tiffany abitbol

cast nanocellulose, a thin film-like membrane that exhibits birefringence

process: hand casting the once colorless material in silicone molds

organizing the butterflies according to ultrasonic energy, date of manufacturing, drying conditions

colored expression of different energy levels; blue – low energy, red/orange – high energy
image by leonid padrul

butterfly dimensions: 50 x 35 mm
image by leonid padrul



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: apostolos costarangos | designboom

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