Foam Follies

Material ResearchInstallation DesignFabrication
Team: Margaret Bunke, Xiwen Wei, Lauren Drew, Wellington Chew, Jenny Pranskevich, Juan Jofre

Foam Follies was an interactive installation designed as part of an intensive summer workshop with students from the University of Texas at Austin for the exhibit Fortlandia, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Wildflower Center requested an installation that would engage its visitors and create opportunities for imaginative playscapes. We approached the project as an opportunity to investigate new and innovative materials as well as different modular systems that provided inventive constructed forms. Research on multiple material compositions was conducted before arriving at a product that fit our main goals: a castable, lightweight material that would withstand the elements and be safe for children to use.

The result is a new composition of expandable foam with integrated cork granules. The material deforms under weight but has shape-memory, and can be cast at varying densities depending on the quantity of cork aggregate, and can be dyed to produce a multiplicity of colors. The modules, six distinct shapes that fit into each other in a variety of directions, provide relational stability and the opportunity to create larger objects. In the end, we produced over 100 units for the exhibit.