Marcel Wanders’s metal skins play with perspective in an ephemeral performance of light, color, and texture

Optical Illusions

Marcel Wanders' new collection for Pure+FreeForm, The Chameleon Collecti(Courtesy Marcel Wanders)

Dutch designer Marcel Wanders teamed up with the architectural metal walls design studio, Pure+FreeForm, on a collection of metal panels that constantly change within the context of their environment. The collaboration takes on one of Modernism’s quintessential existential questions: Can ornamentation transcend function?

(Courtesy Brennan Photography)
Titled "Feather", a motif in the collection features a melange of plumage. (Courtesy Brennan Photography)

Lace features an overlapping latticework of flora and fauna texturized a series of interconnected hexagons. (Courtesy Brennan Photography)

Mirage features a network of circles in a playful composition. (Courtesy Brennan Photography)

Like some sort of material ephemeral performance, these panels shape-shift in response to their surroundings. Aptly dubbed, the Chameleon collection comprises eight metallic sheets adorned with various nature-inspired motifs. Refractions of light, according to the time of day, alter the perceived appearance of the metal sheets. At different angles, the surface perceivably transforms, taking shape in different colors, dimensions, and textures.

Marcel Wanders creates a perceived texture that transpires dynamic visual interest. (Courtesy Marcel Wanders)

In what is more than a demonstration of Pure+FreeForm’s technical abilities, the partnership explores the limitations of metal as a material and as a surface. In a dialogue between the mise en scène and the enveloping metal skins, nonspecific design is upstaged by dynamic visual ephemera. Wanders likened it to “a mediation of social relationships that can only be done through site-specific design.” Cue the applause.