A short unpublished description of what i-Mesh is and where it comes from, in Italy or abroad, what sector or industry does it come from?
i-Mesh is an innovative technical fabric for architecture, the brainchild of naval architect Alberto Fiorenzi. His thirty years of experience in the aerospace and nautical sectors have led to the creation of i-Mesh, an innovative material for architecture, as light as fabric but resistant and durable as steel. All this in Numana, an ancient village nestled between Monte Conero and the blue Adriatic Sea. A unique landscape that has shaped the company's DNA.
What material is it made of? Is it a natural fibre, of vegetable origin, other?
i-Mesh is a material composed of mineral fibres, held together by a resin veil a few microns thick, which can be separated and recycled. The fibres we handle are glass fibre, carbon fibre, basalt fibre and a unique blend of volcanic minerals that we call Volcano.
Is it sustainable material?
The sea and the extraordinary natural heritage surrounding the company are the tremendous inspirational muse of i-Mesh, the natural element behind the birth and development of the material. And it is this extraordinary natural heritage that has given rise to the company's deep respect for the environment.
The circularity of i-Mesh derives from a series of choices imposed upstream of the invention of the material, especially in terms of design and production. i-Mesh produces its panels with a "just-in-time" approach in quantity needed and only when required. There is no stock or waste of any kind. It is recyclable, durable and lightweight. It is undyed and does not change its colour over time because nature itself makes it shine.
Research into materials has always been an essential part of the profession of designers and architects; what feedback have you received from the design sector, architects and designers? What is the most common use?
The attention to this new material has been great since its debut in 2012, during the Made Expo for the project "Green Home Design - How to live the present to preserve the future". Shortly afterwards, in 2013, the German colossal Walter Knoll set its sights on i-Mesh and used it as curtains and partitions in numerous showrooms and trade fairs.
The first large-scale projects took place in interiors, where the i-Mesh fabric was used as a partition by prestigious design and fashion brands such as Dior and Natuzzi. Within a few years, i-Mesh attracted the interest of the world's largest architectural and engineering firms: Foster and Partners, Gensler, Perkins & Will, HOK, Priedemann, Wong Tung and Partners, Rockwell Group, BDP, Ippolito Fleitz Group, Werner Sobek, Transolar, Blocher and Partners, Migliore + Servetto, ABDR, Arup, Bureau Happold. And it attracts the attention of giants such as Apple, BMW, and Google.
How do you present the i-Mesh brand to architects?
Mainly online. i-Mesh is a 4.0 industry because of its contemporary approach to communication and marketing. On the world wide web, we have succeeded in making ourselves appreciated by a massive audience of architectural firms worldwide. After the first contact, we immediately sent a sample to make the architects aware of the feel & touch of i-Mesh. From then on, love for the material often takes hold, and architects continue to surprise us with new and exciting ideas, and we support them in realising their dreams.
What uses of i-Mesh do you recommend?
In interiors, i-Mesh is used to make high-tech curtains, permeable and customised room dividers, suspended ceilings, tapestries and scenery. Outdoors, i-Mesh filters and reflects excessive solar radiation, so we recommend its use as a solar cover, as it provides both thermal and visual comfort.
When people talk about 'fabrics', they think of yarn fabrics, but in fact, i-Mesh is more of a comprehensive or tightly woven weave, a technical fabric with high performance; what are they?
Durability, tensile strength, the immutability of colour over time, lightness, recyclability and, even better, its ability to stand the test of time and be reused again and again are its most important technical characteristics. Let's not forget the possibility of completely customising the weave: the installation for Expo Dubai is an exceptional example of how form and function are closely linked.
It allows air and incredibly light to pass through, making it exciting material to explore. How far do you think the designer can go?
With i-Mesh, there are no limits to exploration. The only limit is the courage of the designers to go beyond the already seen, towards the unusual, the unexpected. Otherwise, we would not be able to call ourselves serious innovators.
The i-Mesh fabric initially evokes Japanese places and interiors; it elicits an exotic style, it recalls distant atmospheres through its weaving. In reality, the various interpretations in different styles and a specific contextualisation of i-Mesh products can interpret and enhance them according to other languages and achieve different results.
The attention that the architect pays to the material, and therefore the understanding of the material, is the paradigm of an approach to design that i-Mesh calls "Soft Architecture", an awareness of design that we believe is necessary to place humanity at the centre of architectural intent and to build with minimal environmental impact. A transparent, light architecture that connects people is also a metaphor for the transparency of intentions, actions and results. Transparency and visual language are also the characteristics of ancient sun protection techniques, such as the Middle Eastern Mashrabiya or the Indian Jaali, identity models for sun protection that are a constant source of inspiration for us.
Finishes and colours, from natural to total black. Use in the fashion and store sector to mention? Do you have an episode of a unique project to report?
We love to relate to the fashion world because it allows us to come into direct contact with creative directors and designers of great value. As for the use of i-Mesh in its most common form, we cannot fail to mention the collaboration with Christian Dior that has been going on since 2018. With Maison's creative team, we redesigned the iconic "cannage" using mineral fibres and created a scalable pattern covering the French brand's shops worldwide. We also hit the catwalks in collaboration with Giorgio Di Salvo, who used the threads in some of United Standard's garments. Another major brand has now set its sights on us, so we suggest you follow us on the various channels to find out what this is all about.
Is it possible to have customised, project-specific panels?
As we said before, when talking about sustainability - design and sustainability are deeply linked; i-Mesh produces its panels only in quantity needed and when required. Its production system allows total customisation, not only in size but also in texture, within the same material.
A project to be told with significant scenic impact
Let's look at a masterful example of Soft Architecture, the famous sunshades at Expo Dubai 2020, probably its most innovative intervention in terms of experimentation. Commissioned to create public comfort on the Expo City waterfront in Dubai, the longest textile sunshade ever made was designed by Werner Sobek with a determination to exploit i-Mesh's customisation potential and unique structural features. The Thematic Concourse is an example of how comfort can be created in the hot environment of cities. Furthermore, it consists of the most extensive beamless pergola module ever built. This was made possible by the possibility provided by i-Mesh to create fibre patterns in total freedom, where the fibres run on load paths. All cross beams typically found in similar installations were omitted in doing so. From a sustainability point of view, this means 30 km of extruded aluminium profiles, avoiding a global warming potential of 31 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.