Aalto University: Multidisciplinary project Shimmering woodshortlisted in Fast Companys 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards

Aalto Universitys multidisciplinary project Shimmering woodhas been selected as finalist in the Art &Design category and has received an honorable mention in the Experimental category of the leading innovation media Fast Companys 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards.
The awards draw attention to projects, concepts, businesses and policies with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all. Shimmering wood is an innovation of designer Noora Yau and materials scientist Konrad Klockars and their Structural Colour Studio.
It feels great that our research made it to this prestigious list. I hope that this achievement sheds more light to the environmental impacts of colours and materials , says Noora Yau.
It’s fantastic to be recognised in this way. We want to show the world that it’s possible to produce high-value products out of wood-based materials and with very little volume of raw material”, says Konrad Klockars.
A truly sustainable material
Shimmering wood is a structural colour. In nature, the brightest colours – like those found in peacock feathers or butterfly wings – are created through microscopically small nanostructures. Unlike traditional pigments or dyes, this colour arises only from the physical structure of the material, without the need for chemical compounds. Shiny or glittery effects – prevalent in fashion and design today – are usually created using toxic pigments, plastic-based materials, or metallic foils. This structural colour presents a sustainable alternative to these traditional colourants.
Shimmering wood is nontoxic and produced 100% from wood, in an economically viable process. Unlike most existing dyes, structural colour does not fade in sunlight.

Nanocellulose is non-toxic, environment-friendly and renewable. It is used in, for example, medical applications and composite materials. It can also form a nanostructure that yields structural colour – if you know how to process it.
The colouring experiments of Yau and Klockars have extended into coating metal, plastic, wood and fabric.
The best innovations are created together, through trial and error. This could not have been possible without the support of the whole research team. A special thanks goes to professor Orlando Rojas and postdoctoral researcher Blaise Tardy, Noora and Konrad say.

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